Reese Witherspoon Talks ‘Weak’ Female Characters And One Thing Women Should Focus On In 2014
What does it take to get to the top — without losing your center? Our “Making It Work” series profiles successful, dynamic women who are standouts in their fields, peeling back the “hows” of their work and their life, taking away lessons we can all apply to our own.
Reese Witherspoon attended a young women’s conference at her teenaged-daughter’s school in Los Angeles, Calif. last month and was in good company: she brought along her own mother, her good friend Mindy Kaling and joined notable women like Maria Shriver and Lisa Leslie for a day of events and discussions.
Witherspoon said of her 14-year-old daughter Ava, “I don’t need to teach her much. She has a lot of self-confidence. I came from a very long line of very strong, hard-working women. So I think she gets a lot of inspiration from her grandmothers on both sides.”
But Witherspoon’s children must certainly garner a healthy dose of inspiration from their own mother, too. Witherspoon won an Academy Award for her performance as June Carter (another fierce woman) in 2005’s “Walk The Line” and currently has four films in post-production, including the smash bestsellers “Gone Girl” and “Wild.” Witherspoon has two children with actor Ryan Phillippe and a toddler with new husband and agent Jim Toth. She might have won Hollywood’s heart in “Legally Blonde,” but she has since proven herself as an extremely talented actor, singer and producer.
The Huffington Post spoke with Witherspoon, 37, about accomplishing everything you want, taking on the challenging role of Cheryl Strayed in “Wild” and what the most important thing women can do in 2014 is.
How do you define success and do you consider yourself successful by that measure?
I think more and more for me, it’s about finding balance between work and family and finding time for myself. I think it’s sort of 30/30/30 — or trying to be at least. Right now it’s sort of like 50/20/5 [laughs]. I think it takes time. You just learn, as you get older, to carve out time for yourself and still accomplish everything that you want. And I’m still in the process of having huge goals and things that I want to accomplish. But I’m trying to do those things while still maintaining a little balance.
Reese Witherspoon & Mindy Kaling Prove They Have The Best Friendship
Reese Witherspoon and Mindy Kaling had a heart-to-heart conversation on Saturday; it just happened in a gymnasium full of teen girls and parents at Brentwood School in Los Angeles. For the school’s second Young Women’s Conference, the two actresses interviewed each other, and spoke bluntly about being underestimated, what their lives were like as teenagers and how one of them (read below!) is a “freeloader.”
Reese Witherspoon: I asked Mindy to do this with me because I’m terrible at speeches. I thought it would be interesting because we have been good friends for a while and when we talk, we run the gamut of conversations that women have about business and life. I just find her so inspirational, so we have prepared some questions for each other.
Mindy Kaling: We’re kind of the same age but you’ve been working for such a long time and you’re so accomplished. You act, produce and you’re a busy mom and wife. If you were a man, no one would ask you how you balance it all. They would just assume you can handle it. So I’m not going to ask you how you balance it all. But I will ask you what one thing is that you do just for you and for fun? My answer would be nail art. Like a 14-year-old girl.
RW: Few people know this about me, but I like to take hip-hop dance classes. I’m not saying I’m good at hip-hop dance classes, I just enjoy taking them.
MK: What level are you at?
RW: I’d say a one or a two. That’s the bottom. I liked taking dance classes when I was in high school and I was never any good at it. But they would bring three girls to the front and they’d say, “Okay, watch Sarah for her arms. And watch Lily for her legs. And watch Reese for her personality.”
Reese graces the cover of the new issue of UK Red magazine, with photos from her 2012 Elle magazine photoshoot alongside what seems to be a new interview. Check out the cover in our Gallery, and the interview below. I’ll be on the hunt for scans!
Reese WitherspoonNew baby, new production company and two of the best roles of her career – Reese Witherspoon is at the top of her game. She talks ambition, inspiration and why her girlfriends keep her sane, with Rosamund Dean.
There are some actresses who are so adored on screen, you almost don’t want to meet them, in case the reality doesn’t live up to the fantasy. Reese Witherspoon is one. This is the woman who taught us the ‘bend and snap’ in Legally Blonde, played Rachel’s little sister in Friends, and won an Oscar as resilient, conflicted June Carter in Walk The Line.
Sitting in the bar of the Beverly Hills Hotel where we are to meet for afternoon tea, I wonder: how can the real Reese Witherspoon possibly compete? Then, she strides in, all impenetrably dark sunglasses and stylish black sweater thrown over a red Carven dress.
For a second, she looks intimidating, but then the glasses come off, that megawatt smile comes on and I relax. She actually is the charming southern belle we know and love, her conversation peppered with ‘y’know’ and ‘y’all’.
‘Yeah, people definitely hug me a lot, and hand me their babies,’ she says of her girl-next-door image. ‘But it’s better than people throwing stuff at me, right? I’m always met with smiles.’
Keen-eyed visitors will notice that I updated the Gallery with a new-old photo of Reese last weekend – the picture was taken for the New York Times in 1998 whilst Reese was promoting Pleasantville. It’s a simple but pretty picture of Reese, and a rare one too.
See the photo in the Gallery, and read the accompanying interview from 1998 below.
THE NEW SEASON/FILM: UP AND COMING: Reese Witherspoon; Commitment, Success and the Age of Ambivalence September 13, 1998
DISCUSSING her career recently, the actress Reese Witherspoon felt compelled to make a confession. ”I use this threat, whenever I get disappointed with the movie business,” she said, lowering her voice and narrowing her cornflower-blue eyes ominously. ”I say, ‘This is it — I’m going to med school!’ I would love to be a pediatric surgeon.” Chatting in a TriBeCa restaurant, Ms. Witherspoon veered from such pensive asides to moments in which she spoke giddily, even rhapsodically, about life as a fledgling 22-year-old movie star.
In one breath, she would gush about how exciting it was to work with Paul Newman and Susan Sarandon in the thriller ”Twilight,” released earlier this year, or to act opposite her boyfriend, Ryan Phillippe, in the forthcoming ”Cruel Intentions,” an updating of ”Les Liaisons Dangereuses.” In the next, she would lament the way that the news media glorify her profession. ”I’m so tired of reading about these ridiculous actors and their ridiculous lives,” she said, sounding convincingly jaded.
The women that Ms. Witherspoon has played on screen, particularly in smaller films like 1995’s ”Fear” and ”Freeway,” have also been complex, sometimes contradictory creatures; and the four characters she will introduce this fall and winter prove no exception.
Reese Witherspoon and Alexander Payne: A Starry, Starry Night in Chicago
It was certainly a starry night in Chicago on June 23 when three major cinematic forces came together for a brilliant evening of food and film. Nestled in the back of the Ritz Carlton, Academy Award-winning director and screenwriter Alexander Payne moderated an intimate post-dinner Q&A with Academy Award-winning actress Reese Witherspoon at the annual Gene Siskel Film Center benefit, which also honored Ms. Witherspoon with the Gene Siskel Film Center’s Renaissance Award.
While Witherspoon and Payne are clearly powerhouses of modern cinema, The Gene Siskel Film Center of the School of the Art Institute has been a guiding light of film programming for 40 years, “presenting independent and international cinema, film festivals, cutting edge programs, premieres, retrospectives and classic films. Recognized internationally for its original film programming, the Film Center annually presents approximately 1,500 screenings and 100 guest artist appearances to more than 80,000 film enthusiasts.” Proceeds from the benefit will support the Gene Siskel Film Center’s programs, including lecture series and discussions with visiting scholars and filmmakers.
Early in the evening, current programming director of the Gene Siskel Film Center, Barbara Scharres, was highlighted for her tremendous accomplishments in eclectic, meaningful and visionary programming. Later, Robert Downey Jr. and Gwyneth Paltrow congratulated Reese in a playful video that played before a packed room of Gene Siskel Film Center supporters. The evening concluded with the president of the School of the Art Institute, Walter Massey, and Chairman of the GSFC Advisory Board, Ellen Sandor, presenting Ms. Witherspoon with the Renaissance Award.
The previously announced ‘An Evening With Reese Witherspoon Hosted By The Gene Siskel Film Center’ took place in Chicago last night, and Reese accepted her award looking chic in a little navy blue dress. Election director Alexander Payne presented the award to her, and Reese told reporters before that he “was a big champion for me early on, and said, ‘That’s the girl I want in my movie,’ so I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for him. And we’ve subsequently become very close friends.”
Reese gave an interview to the Chicago Sun Times for the event, and you can read that below. Over 50 photos from this event – most of which are HQ – have been added to our Gallery for you!
Congratulations to Reese on this wonderful honour!
Reese Witherspoon: “My full-time job is being a mother”
Being pregnant was no obstacle for Reese Witherspoon as far as Cannes is concerned. Though she’s five months along in her pregnancy, Reese was her typically bright and energetic self when she appeared at the fabled French film festival to promote her new film, MUD, starring Matthew McConaughey as a fugitive on the run looking to meet up with his long lost love (Witherspoon). Along the way, he meets up with two young boys anxious to learn about the world. Witherspoon posed playfully with McConaughey along the Croisette, signed autographs for fans, and generally looked radiant while her husband/agent/prospective father of her child Jim Toth was at her side. “This is such a beautiful and happy time in my life and I was very pleased to be able to come to Cannes and support the film,” Witherspoon said. “I play a kind of messed-up country girl in the film but I loved the fact that the story was set in the place where I grew up and was about these two boys learning about the world. I remember what it was like riding dirt bikes and getting into mischief with my brother, and I thought it was a beautiful story that took me back home in a way.”
The 36-year-old Witherspoon was sporting a serious baby bump in her black Versace dress and pink stilettos as she was seen making the rounds of various receptions at the prestigious film festival.
Witherspoon grew up as a part of an affluent family in Tennessee. Her father was distinguished surgeon and her mother was a top surgical nurse and later teaching nurse. She was famously married to actor Ryan Philippe for nine years until their 2008. She admits to having suffered for a time until meeting Hollywood agent Jim Toth two years ago. They were married in March of last year. She has two children from her former marriage to Ryan Philippe, Ava, 12, and Deacon, 9.
The excellent Cannes Film Festival official website have posted their videos from today’s Mud photocall, press conference and premiere, as well as an interview with the cast and director. Unfortunately embedding is not available, so hop on over to the official Mud page at the Cannes website to watch them all.
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