Reese Witherspoon is one of the most recognizable faces in Hollywood as she has box office hits such as Legally Blonde, Sweet Home Alabama, and Cruel Intentions. She also won an Academy Award for her performance in ‘Walk the Line’ as June Carter in 2005, the movie Johnny Cash’s Bio-Pic.
In 2012, Witherspoon partnered with fellow producer Bruna Papandrea, forming the production company Pacific Standard. Their focus in starting their company was to highlight women creatives and support the visual content with material written by women to facilitate the authenticity of female representation in movies.
Witherspoon was recently on Clubhouse with Zoe Saldana and Tiffany Haddish in the BESE Clubroom as they discussed Diversity in storytelling.
“Well, I think we have an essential problem. When I started my company in 2013, I self-financed the whole company because the material was not being created with women in mind, not to mention no women of color, like creating or directing maybe one or two. So, the storytelling was just very narrow, but yet at the same time, we are seeing the emergence of all these streaming platforms that desperately need content. But, still, the content wasn’t diversified yet, and it was not reflective of reality,” said Witherspoon.
“To go back to what Zoe said and first all, don’t like to call it Diversity; I like to call it a reality. Hollywood is reflective of reality, and if you want children and young women to see themselves on film, you need an incredible spectrum of the female experience. That means you need; storytellers, screenwriters, directors, producers, editors, and musicians. Everybody across the board, and you weren’t seeing it. You were seeing the same 200 people hired.”
She added, “So, I started going back to books as IP [Intellectual Property] and saying the publishing world is dominated by women buying books. So, a lot of women are the center of the story. I started buying books that I thought would be good and engineering from there, trying to find female writers and directors… There’s a tremendous amount of momentum around female creatives right now, and it is a really great time to be a creator.”
In 2016, Witherspoon and Papandrea would decide to go their separate ways, and Witherspoon would create Hello Sunshine. A media company blends podcasts and club reading and producing movies and television.
Earlier this year, Witherspoon sold the company to Blackstone Group Inc for $900 million.
“Today marks a tremendous moment for Hello Sunshine,” Witherspoon said in a statement. “I started this company to change the way all women are seen in media. Over the past few years, we have watched our mission thrive through books, TV, film and social platforms. Today, we’re taking a huge step forward by partnering with Blackstone, which will enable us to tell even more entertaining, impactful and illuminating stories about women’s lives globally.”
However, according to Todd Gilchrist of Los Angeles Business Journal, she will stay with the company as a board member, along with Hello Sunshine Chief Executive Sarah Harden, who will continue to oversee the day-to-day operations.