Reese Witherspoon: Women aren’t encouraged to talk about financial literacy

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I don’t even have words for how much I dislike this Interview Magazine cover of Reese Witherspoon. The Mary Janes with socks, the hiked up dress, the pose. What a terrible shot and what terrible styling. Thankfully, the interview is a lot better than the photo editorial. Tracee Ellis Ross interviewed Reese and their conversation was really good and substantive. They spoke at length about selling movies and TV shows internationally, the nitty-gritty of producing and financing projects and whether there is an audience for female-led projects. You can read the full piece here. Some highlights:

How Reese defines herself: “Oh, gosh. I’m a mom first. I’m somebody’s daughter. I’ve worked around teams since I was 14 years old, so I definitely think I’m a team leader at this point. I can safely say that. I’m a doer. I don’t like to talk about things for too long, I like to just do them. If they can’t be done, I like to do them and move on.

Reese on passion & having female friends: “I now know what I’m good at, and I know what I’m not good at. My passions have become more intensified as I’ve gotten older. I truly believe that like-minded people who get together and push toward a greater good can create real change in this world. I only believe that because of the friendships I’ve made with extraordinary women like you over the past, I’d say, four years. Before that, I felt so lonely, and it was really hard for me because a lot of the conversations I was having in rooms in Hollywood, well, I felt like I was the only one having them. When we all started getting together and meeting, I realized that women were having the same conversations across town in a different boardroom or on a different set, and it was enormously comforting to know that I wasn’t pushing a rock up a hill. It’s still a lot of effort, but it felt more effortless with you guys involved. And since then, the support that’s been created by this group of women feels like I have a chorus behind me.

Women need to talk about money: “The other thing that really drives me nuts is that women aren’t encouraged to have conversations about financial literacy. And when things drive me crazy long enough, I feel like I’ve got to go do something about it, and it takes me a while to figure out what to do, but I’ll bring it up to literally everybody who crosses my path. You know me as the “How will this make money?” and “Where is the revenue stream?” girl.

Artists have more power than they realize: “We’re in a really unique time where streaming has emerged and social media has become such an important tool for marketing and connecting to audiences. There are so many ways for artists to monetize. But it’s a maze to navigate. I’m always looking for solutions to help build wealth not just for white women, but for Black women, for Latinx women.”

How should women invest: “I truly believe if women have more money, they invest it in themselves, in their families. And when you look at the stats on what women own, whether it’s home ownership or having any assets, we have got great lengths to go to find equity. Even if we’re making more money, are we getting educated about how to invest? When I first started making money, no one would bring me business opportunities. I was watching my peers, who were men, constantly investing in things like Uber and Google because they hung out with the founders. And I asked other high-profile women, “Were you offered this opportunity?” The answer across the board was no. How you use the money that you get is just as important.

[From Interview]

Reese also talked a lot about the skewed perceptions and overreliance on biased data within Hollywood, which I found fascinating but I’m a nerd that way. She emphasized that when she has gone into meetings with studios and mega-producers, she’s been told repeatedly that “women-led projects won’t sell overseas” or that only male consumers count, and then there’s all of this skewed, biased data to back up those perceptions because Hollywood has spent decades reinforcing it. As for what she says about financial literacy and women needing to invest like men… I completely agree. Women need to talk about money a lot more. We need to talk about money with each other, and we need to talk about money with men too. There *are* male allies who want women to get paid, who want to be able to have these conversations openly with women too.

Cover and IG courtesy of Interview Magazine.

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16 Responses to “Reese Witherspoon: Women aren’t encouraged to talk about financial literacy”

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  1. kronster says:

    For whatever reason, it is believed that if a woman talks about money, or wants more money, she’s greedy, or a gold-digger. That needs to change.
    I talk about money a lot. But I also work my a$$ off. I’m not a gold-digger, I don’t expect someone to GIVE me that money. I earn it. I still make less than my male co-workers (for sure!), and whenever I start the discussion about equal pay, they smile and tell me I should be grateful for what I have. That makes me lol and really angry at the same time. They still believe men do a better job than women, and that we don’t deserve to be paid fair. *sighs*

    • lucy2 says:

      I’m not sure if you’re in the US, but if you have proof you are being paid less than males doing the same job, you could pursue it through the Equal Pay Act. Document everything.

      • Kronster says:

        No, I’m not in the US. Here no one gives a toss about equal pay and we have no regulations whatsoever 🙁

  2. candy says:

    So many perceptions are based on lies that suit the patriarchy, especially the white patriarchy. Time and time again they proven wrong. I agree women need to talk about financial literacy and especially how to empower themselves to reach economic security. It took me until I was 35 to learn about index funds.

  3. Kat says:

    Reese is right on. Financial literacy needs to be taught, and it’s not just for the wealthy.

    Financial literacy needs to be taught from grade school onwards. So many millions of folks would have a better quality of life, make better decisions, etc if only they were able to access financial literacy education.

    • Snuffles says:


      I was just coming in to say the same thing. They need to teach financial literacy from elementary school. And it should be REQUIRED, like math and English.

      It’s shocking how little your average 20-something knows when they go off to live on their own.

    • Eurydice says:

      Several years ago I was chatting with the director of Boston’s Museum of Science, who is a major advocate of technological literacy. He was saying kids learn how to make volcanos in school, but when are they ever going to run across a volcano? But they’re surrounded by technology and they don’t know how any of that works. The same is true for money.

  4. CV says:

    If I hadn’t found a job on a trading desk at 24 I am 100% sure I would not have understood how to invest and grow my wealth. Now, almost 30 years later, I am reaping the rewards of learning those lessons early and having had time to compound those returns.

    Reese is great for highlighting this, more women need to hear it.

  5. Theothermia says:

    “and then there’s all of this skewed, biased data to back up those perceptions because Hollywood has spent decades reinforcing it”

    This is so true in so many fields.

    Bro science is a thing

  6. lucy2 says:

    I’m going to have to read the full piece later, it sounds interesting. They are both smart, accomplished women who have surely seen and experienced a LOT over their years in the business.

  7. Eurydice says:

    I’m in a different career now, but most of my working life has been on Wall Street. A fiction I had to battle was “we’re all a team.” Women get sucked into that – thinking “team” means doing all the shitwork while the guys play golf. And the fiction about “financial literacy” is that it’s about literacy first – no, it’s about money first . It’s about “me” and it’s about money. You’re never going to get what you’re worth (or near to it) unless the “me” and “money” are in the front of your mind. It’s not a pretty thing to acknowledge.

    About being offered investment opportunities – this is where the literacy part comes in. It takes work, as much work as the career you already have. It takes focus, education, making connections, understanding risk – it’s not just waiting for Google to drop in your lap.

    • Twin falls says:

      Women get sucked into that – thinking “team” means doing all the shitwork while the guys play golf.

      Too true

      • EllenOlenska says:

        Over and over again. I used to mentor women in B-school. They’d always say “ oh the guys are great, we don’t have that problem now.” Then I would point out that they had done all the work on the “ team” project and those “ great” guys made sure they ( the guys) would be presenting that work in the competitions where hiring managers were the judges. Ditto the start up world. I look at the excellent episode “ The Other Woman” in MadMen. Very little has changed.

  8. Tiffany says:

    The suit Reese is wearing should have been the cover shot. That look would have gone a lot better with this great interview.

  9. Elisa says:

    I’ve been educating myself about personal finance and money recently. It’s so important! Some women friendly recommendations:
    1.Jean Chatzky and HerMoney. Podcast, FB group, books
    2. You Need a Budget (YNAB) App. Also had a great FB group and podcast. And book.
    3. Tiffany Aliche, the Budgetnista.
    4. JL Collins, the Simple Path to Wealth.
    5. The Financial Diet. YouTube videos and webinars.
    There’s much more, but these are good starting points. Stay away from Dave Ramsay!
    honorable mention – Ask A Manager website, for great work related questions!

    • Lex says:

      I’ve started reading The Barefoot Investor. Wildly popular method here in Aus.