TRAILBLAZER THURSDAY: Reese Witherspoon
by Melanie Roberts
We all know Reese Witherspoon as the academy-award winning actress who stole America’s heart in her adolescence. Since her acting debut as Dani Trant in 1991’s The Man in the Moon, Witherspoon has cultivated a wide-ranged film career.
However, Witherspoon’s accomplishments soar above her status as a film darling. Over the decades, she has developed into an amazing businesswoman and entrepreneur, who now owns her own clothing stores, media company and still acts in various films and television shows.
Her biggest accomplishment has been her ability to give voices to women-focused stories through media and shed light on the need for such projects in our culture.
In 2012, encouraged by her mom who said, “if you want something done honey, do it yourself,” Witherspoon set off on a mission to create a film production company that was female driven. She saw an industry in crisis. There were no solid stories being told about women in film or television. In the media, there weren’t discussions of real issues women faced. She aimed to share stories that would change the narrative for women.
When media execs wouldn’t take action, Witherspoon took charge by creating her own production company, Pacific Standard.
She didn’t give up when people in the industry told her there wasn’t a market for female-driven material, or that the company wouldn’t make it past its first year. She produced Gone Girl and Wild in 2014, which both grossed over half a billion dollars worldwide. They also received three Academy Award nominations that year.
So, I guess it's safe to say THERE IS a market for female-driven media and in fact, it’s in high demand.
As one of Glamour Magazine’s Women of the Year 2015, she addressed the crowd with a bold statement.
“Films with women at the center are not a public service project,” she said. “They are a big time, bottom-line enhancing, money-making commodity.”
She closed out the speech, “Ambition is not a dirty word, it’s just believing in yourself and your abilities.”
Her films, tv shows and docuseries have since featured women of different ages, races and occupations in lead roles.
In 2017, Pacific Standard fell under the umbrella of Hello Sunshine, Witherspoon’s full media company aiming to tell female-driven stories in any way possible. The podcast, called How It Is, is marketed as “women telling our own stories in our own words.”
In addition to her role in media production, Reese also has a list of of other accomplishments including motherhood, her recent book release Whiskey in a Teacup and her line of clothing stores. My personal favorite though, is her virtual book club on Audible.
The book club is called “Reese’s Book Club x Hello Sunshine,” where she chooses a new audiobook to feature each month. On the site, members can download and discuss their thoughts on the book with fellow readers.
Let me just say, I’ve listened to 4 of her picks already and have yet to be disappointed.
The inspiration behind her clothing line is pretty cool too. Named after her beloved grandparents, Draper James is Witherspoon’s lifestyle clothing brand honoring her Southern heritage in Nashville, Tennessee. She wanted to capture the grace and style that her grandparents taught her. “Be charming if you can; witty if you must. But always have grace,” the website says.
Whether it’s sharing her voice in the #metoo movement or inspiring people to be more ambitious, Reese Witherspoon is an inspiration to women and girls everywhere who seek change in the world or in their community.
Glamour Magazine speech: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JKKRBnpDpBY
Just for fun, because I couldn't resist...
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