The Hollywood Reporter’s 2019 Women in Entertainment Power 100: How Reese Witherspoon Took Charge of Her Career & Changed Hollywood by 30Seconds Mom

The Hollywood Reporter has published its Women in Entertainment issue, which includes Hollywood’s annual list of the female players pulling in box office billions, running the streamers, sealing innovative deals and charting the future of an industry in flux. Joining OprahShari RedstoneMichelle ObamaJennifer AnistonShonda Rhimes and dozens of new faces on this year’s list is cover star Reese Witherspoon, the Oscar®-winning actress, producer, entrepreneur and activist who built her own empire. "I don't want to leave this business the same way I found it," says Reese.

Reese sat down with The Hollywood Reporter to discuss everything from her past roles to double standards in Hollywood. “What, men are entrepreneurs but how dare we be anything more than actresses?” Reese asks. “We, as women, are expected to stay in our lane.”

Photo: The Hollywood Reporter (photographed by Melodie McDaniel)

Here are some excerpts from the candid interview in The Hollywood Reporter with Reese Witherspoon:

On criticism to the size of her paycheck for “The Morning Show”: “I guarantee these companies are real smart, and if they agree to pay us, they’re doing it for a reason. They probably had a lot of lawyers and a lot of business people decide on that number because they knew that they were going to make more than that back. Does it bother people when Kobe Bryant or LeBron James make their contract?”

On convincing the industry of her creative chops: “I was in this position where I was making studios a lot of money, and I had for years and years, and they didn’t take me seriously as a filmmaker. Somehow, they didn’t think that 25 years of experience could add up to some inherent knowledge of what movies work and how to keep them on budget. And you think about the kind of guys who come out of Sundance and get gigantic jobs off of one, like, ‘Oh, I see the potential.’”

Photo: The Hollywood Reporter (Reese Witherspoon with Jennifer Aniston in Apple TV+’s Morning Show)

On how giving birth to her daughter, Ava, changed her whole world: “I had to grow up really fast and figure out what woman I wanted to be for my daughter.”

On how her indelible performance in "Election" had put her at risk of being typecast: “They thought I was a shrew … My manager finally called and said, ‘You’ve got to go meet with the studio head because he will not approve you. He thinks you really are your character from Election and that you’re repellent.’ And then I was told to dress sexy. And you’re 23, you have a baby at home, you need the money and you’re being told that by people who know what they’re doing. It’s funny to think of all the things we were told to do back then because now you’re thinking, ‘Oh God, if somebody told my daughter to do that, she’d be like, I really hope you’re joking.’”

On auditioning for “Legally Blonde”: “I remember a room full of men who were asking me questions about being a coed and being in a sorority … even though I had dropped out of college four years earlier and I have never been inside a sorority house.”

Photo: The Hollywood Reporter (Timothy A. Clary/AFP via Getty Images)

On her career paralysis following “Legally Blonde”: “I was so used to being underestimated that when I was somehow accepted, I didn’t know how to look at material. I didn’t know how to make decisions and I didn’t know what I wanted to say.”

What do other actresses have to say about Reese's ambition?

“She’s one of the most determined people I know," says Jennifer Aniston. "She knew what she was up against and she never put that sword down. She had a message and stories to tell and she was just like, ‘Uh-uh, you can’t tell me no and you can’t pat me on the head and say, oh, aren’t you cute.’”

“It’s like watching the hummingbird in my garden," says Meryl Streep. "Her wings move so fast that she gives the illusion of holding still but she is quicker and brighter and faster than the eye can catch.”

Photo (main): The Hollywood Reporter (photographed by Melodie McDaniel)

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Elisa Schmitz, 30Seconds
I absolutely love Reese. She has created an incredible career for herself, and is a role model for other women in media and business. I am thrilled for all she has accomplished and can't wait to see her grow and shine even more!

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