Meaningful Change at Last? Women Gain Ground in Hollywood
Women in Hollywood are finally starting to exhale. Two years after sexual misconduct allegations against Harvey Weinstein first broke, turbocharging the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements, there’s a growing sense among women in showbiz that meaningful change is underway — though much remains to be done before true parity is reached.
“There have been some good inroads,” says Donna Langley, chairman, Universal Filmed Entertainment Group, whose studio was the first major to sign on to USC Annenberg Inclusion Institute and Time’s Up’s 4% Challenge for female directors in January. “It’s never going to feel like it’s enough. It’s never going to be enough — this is work that is going to be ongoing.”
Langley’s views were echoed by other women surveyed by Variety for its annual Women’s Impact Report. They reported increased opportunity behind and in front of the camera.
“I think we’ve made an incredible amount of progress just by opening up the conversation,” says Reese Witherspoon. She was so frustrated about the lack of substantial roles for women that she founded Hello Sunshine, a media company dedicated to female storytelling, three years ago. She is now producing and starring in some of the projects in its pipeline, including Apple TV Plus’ “The Morning Show” opposite Jennifer Aniston.
“Female directors are working so much, and it’s enormously encouraging,” she says. What’s more, their authority is better respected on set and elsewhere. “I used to work with female directors and people would just talk over them,” but now “there’s a real consciousness to listening to women that was never here before.”
To promote the November premiere of The Morning Show, Reese can be seen on the cover of the new issue of Harper’s Bazaar magazine! The magazine features a brand new photoshoot themed around ‘facing your fears’, and Natalie Portman interviews Reese about The Morning Show and some of her other upcoming producing work. In the behind the scenes video, Reese talks about her favourite books, including Wild. Find all the content within this post!
From boldly addressing the nuances of #MeToo on her new Apple TV+ drama, The Morning Show, to canoodling with a five-foot python for BAZAAR, the 43-year-old actress and producer takes risks without even wobbling in her stilettos. Friend Natalie Portman talked to the star about how she makes it all look so easy.
NATALIE PORTMAN: Hi! I’m so happy to talk to you for Harper’s BAZAAR’s Daring issue. Was it scary to be shot with a spider on your face?
REESE WITHERSPOON: The spider didn’t scare me, but there was a snake at the photo shoot that did. This is going to sound weird, but I like insects and spiders. I was kind of a tomboy growing up. It grosses everybody out, but I like to pick up bugs.
NP: What, if anything, are you actually afraid of?
RW: I get scared of being on really tall buildings and looking down.
NP: And you did that too for your Bazaar shoot! I’m impressed. Speaking of impressed, I watched the first three episodes of The Morning Show last night. It’s wonderful!
Reese and Jennifer Aniston are featured on the cover of the October issue of Entertainment Weekly, to promote their upcoming series The Morning Show! The two are photographed in character for the issue, and the interview reveals the real-life inspiration behind the series and tells us more about the characters. Read the interview below or on Entertainment Weekly, and find the cover and photoshoot in high quality in our Gallery. We’ll have scans for you when the issue is available.
Stream Queens: Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon on their TV reunion and how The Morning Show changed after #MeToo
Reese Witherspoon isn’t about to cause a scene. But she is freaking out a little bit. “Diane Sawyer came to visit and oh my God, it was amazing!” Sitting in a Los Angeles restaurant on a balmy August evening, the Academy Award winner throws her hands over her face to muffle her excitement. (There will be no Elle Woods-esque squeal here.) She’s recalling the day that the legendary broadcast journalist stopped by the set of her upcoming series with Jennifer Aniston, The Morning Show (Nov. 1). Her face still in her hands, Witherspoon continues in disbelief: “She sat at the monitor and watched me and Jen read the news!” The pair have come a long way since trading barbs at Central Perk.
The Morning Show — which marks Aniston’s major return to TV after Friends ended in 2004, and the pair’s first project together since Witherspoon guest-starred on the NBC comedy as Rachel’s spoiled little sister Jill in 2000 — takes viewers inside the world of daybreak news. “There’s something sort of bulletproof about morning shows,” Witherspoon says. “They’re a stalwart part of American culture.” After all, every day millions of Americans wake up and turn on the Today show, or any number of other programs, and are greeted by familiar faces they trust to deliver the news with just the right amount of personality. At least that’s the expectation. As you brew your morning coffee, they update you on the latest from the White House. As you pick out your clothes for the day, they let you know how the weather is looking. And as you prepare to head out the door, they amuse you with fun anecdotes about the internet’s buzziest viral video. “These shows are some of the last programming in the country that still tries to appeal in Los Angeles and New York and Des Moines and Mississippi,” says Morning Show executive producer Michael Ellenberg. “You have to introduce an idea of what America is that works for blue states and red states.” It was Ellenberg who brought the idea for The Morning Show to Witherspoon, whom he worked with on Big Little Lies, and Aniston in late 2016. (“I said to him, ‘I’m not completely closed down to television because it’s been pretty good,’” Aniston recalls.)
He can trace the idea back to 1989, when he saw Jane Pauley get replaced on Today. (It’s widely believed to be because she was “too old.” She was 39 at the time.) Then in 2012, Today’s veteran newsreader Ann Curry was reportedly driven off the program after less than a year as a cohost, a subject explored in journalist Brian Stelter’s 2013 book Top of the Morning, which Ellenberg quickly optioned. (Stelter is a consulting producer on the show, which uses his book mostly for background research.) “These are some of the most powerful women in America, and we watched them get screwed publicly, basically,” Ellenberg says. Witherspoon adds: “I was astounded by how honest a lot of female anchors were with myself and Jen. I think most people would find it shocking that women in that position, of what we perceive as power, are looked at as expendable.”
To celebrate their 25th anniversary, In Style have gathered several of their most famous cover stars from the past 25 years to each take a trip down memory lane and look back at their previous In Style covers. As well as talking us through their covers, the stars have been photographed for the current issue in a way that reflects their current selves. Reese tells us about her covers from 2002, 2004, 2009, 2015, 2016 & 2019, and for the latest photoshoot was snapped in May in New York City.
You can browse through all of the featurettes at InStyle.com. Read Reese’s article at InStyle.com or below, and find the photo in our Gallery. We’ll have scans for you asap.
Reese Witherspoon Doesn’t Want You to Worry
“In my early 20s I used to worry a lot. I was worried about being a good mom. I was worried about being a good actress. I worried about whether or not people respected me, or if I was kind enough. But in the end it all works out. Really!”
I was on my first InStyle cover in 2002, when I was 26. I had always been a fan of the magazine, so it was a big deal. Looking at that cover now, I can’t help but feel tender toward baby Reese and anyone else who’s going through that phase of life when they’re discovering who they are, especially in the public eye. I know what she’s about to go through and endure and triumph over, but she has no idea what’s to come, despite the fact that she does look all coy and knowing. I’m an actor: I might look like I know things sometimes, but I don’t.
Since then I’ve been on the cover of InStyle five more times. I guess you could say I’ve been swimming in the soup. It’s been a huge privilege and an honor. Sometimes I do cringe when I look back [at images of myself], but it’s only because I can’t believe I cut my hair or plucked my eyebrows a certain way. More than that, I usually just think about what a lovely way it is to remember milestones in my life, like finishing a project I was really proud of or having kids. It’s crazy how time flies, but I’ve learned so much about myself over the years. There’s a pretty good quote in my 2002 cover story where I said, “Listening to other people’s ideas about who you are can eat you up. Do they like me? Do they hate me? You could think about it all day long.” That’s something people say in their 20s. Once you’re in your 40s you don’t care what people think.
I came up in a time when Hollywood was about one body type, one beauty standard [blond hair and blue eyes]. Still, I was confident that the substance of what I had to say was more important than any external validation. I was always just being myself: a young mom, a comedian, a goofball. I’ve always been a goofball. I feel more comfortable making funny faces than serious faces, and even at 26, I wasn’t appearing on the covers of men’s magazines. That kind of hypersexualization made me feel awkward, and if I felt that way, I didn’t want to make other women feel that way.
Reese Witherspoon spills the beans on friendship with Big Little Lies co-star Nicole Kidman
Friends and business partners, Big Little Lies co-stars Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman share an intense and complex bond.
In an candid new interview with news.com.au, Witherspoon lifts the lid on their relationship, which — like that of so many female co-stars in Hollywood — has faced many a tabloid report of “secret feuding”.
“We’ve gotten along, we’ve had fights, and we’ve gotten over it,” explains Witherspoon.
The Oscar-winning actresses and producing partners clearly spend a lot of time together. “We’ve had every kind of experience together. We’ve been on vacation, we’ve worked together and we’ve disagreed about things, but I think that’s the beauty of having a real partnership with someone. Ours is a real friendship. It’s not a fake, phony Hollywood picture, you know? I really value that about our friendship.”
Prior to their collaboration as producers on Big Little Lies, they knew each other socially but became close friends once they started working together on the award-winning series, which is available to stream on Foxtel.
“Nicole and I were talking today about how fortunate we are to have each other through this (Big Little Lies) process. It’s the biggest success I’ve ever had with another woman, in my entire career, and hers. For me, to have that experience with her, to be in the trenches with her, it’s been everything.”
Both actresses are hands-on producers and were on-set much of the time.
We continue to fill up the TV Appearances section of the Gallery, and in recent days have completed the Talk Shows from 2011-2013. Reese made many appearances in 2011 & 2012 to promote Water For Elephants and This Means War, but only a couple in 2013 when Mud was released. I loved seeing her with Amy Adams on Jimmy Kimmel Live in 2013! We had photos from a lot of the talk shows from these years but a few more have been added where we’ve been able to find them. Enjoy!
In between all the Big Little Lies promotion, we’ve been continuing our work on the TV Appearances section of the Gallery. Since that last update, we’ve completed (as much as possible – depending on photos/videos available!) the years of 2008, 2009 and 2010. Reese did a lot of TV interviews in these years, to promote big budget movies Four Christmases, Monsters Vs Aliens and How Do You Know – and a few for the lower-budget Penelope! In between movie promotion, she also made some appearances to highlight her work with Avon. I particularly loved her looks on Leno & Jonathan Ross in 2009! Lots of screencaptures and stills in the Gallery for you:
Reese is featured in ‘This Changes Everything’, a new documentary about the under-representation of women in media from the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media. She is interviewed within the documentary, to talk about how she “started developing these projects with smart, articulate capable women” due to the lack of projects for women. The documentary will be shown on July 22nd in New York and California – find more information at the official site. Watch the trailer below (although Reese is not featured in it):
Told first-hand by some of Hollywood’s leading voices behind and in front of the camera, THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING is a feature-length documentary that uncover what is beneath one of the most confounding dilemmas in the entertainment industry – the underrepresentation and misrepresentation of women. It takes an incisive look at the history, empirical evidence, and systemic forces that foster gender discrimination and thus reinforce disparity in our culture. Most importantly, the film seeks pathways and solutions from within and outside the industry, and around the world.
To celebrate our 16 years online, here we are spotlighting 16 of our favourite Reese things from the past 16 years. You will see a new one upon refreshing or changing the page.
"It took me years to be the woman my mother raised. It took me 4 years, 7 months and 3 days to do it, without her. After I lost myself in the wilderness of my grief, I found my own way out of the woods."
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