Reese Witherspoon: ‘I do think I’m very good at what I do…I know what I’m doing’


In early August, Reese Witherspoon sold her media company Hello Sunshine for $900 million. It’s sort of mind-blowing and I’m still pretty proud of her – she built a thing for a decade, parlayed it into influence, awards and critical success, and she got paid. That’s partly what Reese’s InStyle cover story is about. At 45 years old, Reese is owning who she is and she’s owning her success in the industry. She chatted with Gayle King about all of that and more:

Owning her badassery: “I’ve said this to Oprah before, but LeBron James doesn’t go, “I’m kinda sorta good at basketball.” He’s like, “I’m the best there ever was.” So, yes, I do think I’m very good at what I do. I’ve been doing it for 30 years. I know what I’m doing. Give me the ball.

Women have humility: “Another important difference is that women have humility. I have no problem saying to people, “I don’t understand what you’re saying, can you please explain it to me?” Self-doubt is a good tool. You shouldn’t know everything. Turn to somebody, but advocate to learn more and do better.

Biases against women: “Actresses, they’re infantilized. People don’t talk to them about money or deals; they say, “Oh, don’t worry about that, we have that.” Not empowering someone with information is a form of control. So at a certain point in my career, I kind of took back the reins. I finally picked up the phone and said, “I’m not excited about this one part of my deal,” and my agent was like, “Well, let’s change it.” Sometimes you have to pick up the phone. Don’t assume. You don’t know the answers.

Selling Hello Sunshine for $900 million: “It was two, maybe three months of negotiations on the phone all day. Calls at one o’clock in the morning. I didn’t know a lot about private equity. I’d never sold a company in my life. I learned so much. I was really clear about what women’s stories mean in a marketplace. So it had to be a number that signified that it’s big business because women are big business. Female audiences are big business. Female filmmakers are big business. You can’t ignore half of the population of the world and say that they don’t economically matter; they do.

What it felt like when the deal went through: “I cried. I cried, and I thought about my grandma, and I cried more. I thought about all of the women who haven’t gotten these opportunities, and I just feel really lucky that I’m standing in a path that other women created for me. [Starts crying] Sorry…. I grew up in a military family, so it’s about how you serve others. This is the way I do it. By hopefully making art more equitable and accessible.

On ‘The Morning Show’ & asserting power: “I think there’s people who have understood that they should not be treated poorly and have decided not to go to work because they didn’t want to be treated poorly. Look, people know their power; people know their influence. There’s an entire new world order, too…. We weren’t allowed to exert power. Let’s just be clear: Until fairly recently, no one was listening to anything a woman said, and then with the emergence of social media, women have a voice that is undeniable. Women are also hyperaware that they are the buying majority. They hold the purse strings. They also consume much more media than men. When you’re talking in terms of my business, it only makes sense to cater to an audience that consumes more than anyone, right? The economics are just so empirical that you can’t not listen to women anymore. Enough is enough.

[From InStyle]

This reminds me of what Jennifer Lopez said recently about her realization that she IS a scarce asset, that what she brings to the table is unique, worthy and different than anyone else. That’s what Reese has grown to understand too: what she is and what she does has enormous value. That women are creators and consumers, that women can build their own valuable power. And this is the model for so many industries: “You can’t ignore half of the population of the world and say that they don’t economically matter; they do.” So much of entertainment, media, publishing and business is driven towards only half of the population. Women are not a niche market!!

PS… Reese looks so different in these photos but I think it’s just hair & makeup. She looks so much younger with fluffy hair!

Cover & IG courtesy of InStyle.

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33 Responses to “Reese Witherspoon: ‘I do think I’m very good at what I do…I know what I’m doing’”

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  1. JustMe says:

    That doesn’t look like Reese???

    • Amy Too says:

      Right. That is not a picture of Reese Witherspoon, it can’t be, can it?

      • elle says:

        She’s got the “Japanese potato” jawline.

        When I saw this cover, I thought it was refreshing that a magazine had gone back to using models instead of celebs!

    • Jezz says:

      It’s Meghan Trainor!

    • bettyrose says:

      Hopefully it’s just shopped and she hasn’t had massive cosmetic updates. She doesn’t need them (she doesn’t need to be shopped either, but editors will edit).

    • shanaynay says:

      Is that Reese? It looks nothing like her. Terrible photoshopping.

  2. Andrew's Nemesis says:

    Absolutrly. The idea that women should be centred via the male lens and be demure is profoundly damaging to half the human race. I once challenged someone who stated that they ‘like[d] a woman to BE a woman, you know?’ with ‘no’. He was dumbfounded and never spoke to me again. This toxic idea that you renounce your femininity if you’re a hard headed businesswoman belongs in the Regency era.

  3. Sarah says:

    Isn’t this her daughter? Either that or the pics are heavily photoshopped.

  4. Greenfingers says:

    That’s a photoshop fail, for me

  5. olliesmom says:

    Holy photoshop! That looks just like her daughter Ava, who looks a lot like Reece but also looks like her dad Ryan. Or did they put Ava’s photo on the cover in error?

  6. Becks1 says:

    I like this. I like her point about saying she’s good at what she does. I think that is so important for us as women. Acknowledge your strengths. don’t be afraid to say “I know what I am doing here and I’m good at it.” It reminds me of what Nancy Pelosi said to Trump about not underestimating the strength she brought to the table.

    And yes, part of our strength as women is our buying power.

  7. Karelli says:

    InStyle is SO BAD at photoshop !

  8. Rhiley says:

    She looks completely different here. Maybe she has a new nose?

  9. Twin falls says:

    Not empowering someone with information is a form of control.

    I love this statement.

    • Ania says:

      Exactly! I always felt uncomfortable when someone said „don’t worry about it”, „it” being sth important to me and she precisely named it.

    • iconoclast59 says:

      This is SO common in the business world! I call it the Mushroom Treatment: Keep you in the dark and feed you b—s—.

  10. Jan90067 says:

    The photoshop is SO heavy I had NO idea it was her, even after reading the headline I was skeptical (I thought, did they use her daughter for promo?). The profile b/w looks like her; but the rest? They took off half her chin and gave her a different nose!

  11. Ennie says:


  12. FeedMeChips says:

    Is this Miranda Lambert?

  13. ClaireB says:

    I am always so torn on Reese, because I loved her movies and love that she built a business empire that recognizes and tries to empower women, but she gives me serious Karen vibes sometimes.

    • livealot says:

      I kinda see how you may get that but “Karen” is rooted in racism and i think her past behavior is more of an entitled diva (the cop incident) than racist as*hole. As far as race is concerned she appears to be more of an ally than most.

      I thought this was her daughter which means Instyle used the baby face filter for these photos. Shame.

      • Hyrule e says:

        “Karen” is rooted in white supremacy, white privilege, white woman fragility & white woman tears.

        Reese “don’t you know who I am?” Witherspoon is absolutely a Karen.
        A southern Karen, born & raised in it.

        She can wax poetic about empowering women but you be clear, she means women like her.

  14. bettyrose says:

    I love this! (Not the shopped pictures but the sentiment). It’s taken me decades to say “I’m good at what I do.” And I friggin’ am. I’ve worked hard to get here. I have found myself recently feeling insecure about the younger staff who have better tech skills than me (that used to be me) but I have way better management and problem solving skills. Those things aren’t as sexy as a flashy website, but they matter a LOT.

  15. Lena says:

    Reese had to have control over these pictures as that has everything to do with what she was interviewed about. Shame because it takes away from the whole article-it’s just too distracting. People just want to see the real you Reese. Anyway, things have changed since the aughts when movie studios said they had one female led movie that year and they couldn’t have another, and how no one wants to see female superhero’s bcause cat woman bombed. I think she was at the forefront of not waiting for male writers to make a “pitch” but took book adaptations where now female protagonist books are the leading best sellers and then turned to streaming which is starting to turn it around. Although I still think there are 3 male roles for very female role so we have a ways to go.

  16. Molly says:

    No. Nope, nuh uh. That bottom pic, in the doorway? No way that’s “just hair and makeup” and it ain’t camera angles either. The entire shape of her face/eyes is different. Very similar to how Renee Zellwegger popped up a few years ago looking the same … but somehow also completely different.

    Zellwegger’s look “calmed down” with time. Hopefully Reese’s will too.

    Sad that the lesson here is ambition, accomplishment and empowerment, but yet again, all anyone will talk about is how another insecure actress messed up her face to try to stay young and relevant.

    • milliemollie says:

      I don’t think she had anything major done. It’s just bad and too much photoshop. She looked like she always did when she promoted the second season of the Morning show.

    • chai35 says:

      You know, you have the option to not talk about it and center the ambition.

      • Kcat says:

        Thank you. I know this is a gossip web site. I know the photos are terribly shopped, but damn that half the comments are about this is disappointing.

  17. Laalaa says:

    It took me to be doing a crossword puzzle and coming to “croatian conductor”, trying to think of every colleague and conductor I know until I looked at the answers and realized I was the conductor in question … to admit to myself I know what I’m doing.
    I love Reese and I find her inspiring.

    • Noo says:

      Wow @laalaa I have never met anyone who was the answer to a crossword clue. Way to go, you are a *boss*!

  18. lucy2 says:

    I know she’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but I like her – I admire what she has built, I like her work as an actor, and it’s nice to see she isn’t downplaying her successes and abilities.

    Also, for everyone thinking she got a new face, it’s very clearly photoshop. Go on her instagram, she posts photos of herself all the time, looking totally normal. This is just bad In Style photoshop.