Reese Witherspoon Talks About Her Southern Lifestyle Site Draper James
Reese Witherspoon may dazzle the general populace–People Magazine recently named her the Best Dressed Person of 2015–but venture investors weren’t star-struck when the actress first pitched them on her idea for Southern-lifestyle startup Draper James.
In fact, Forerunner Ventures founder Kirsten Green–an investor in Bonobos Inc., Birchbox Inc. and Dollar Shave Club Inc.–said she initially put Ms. Witherspoon’s celebrity status in the “con category.”
“Founding a company is the hardest thing you can possibly do. It takes an enormous amount of sheer will, and with celebrities who have so many things they could spend their time doing, you question whether you can count on them being there,” Ms. Green said.
After a series of meetings with the star of “Walk the Line” and the “Legally Blonde” movies and questioning a handful of Hollywood executives who knew her well, Ms. Green said she was convinced Ms. Witherspoon would be deeply involved for the duration. Ms. Green quickly decided to lead a $10 million round to bankroll the startup’s expansion.
The infusion comes a few months after Draper James launched its e-commerce site and marks the latest in a series of celebrity led consumer Internet startups to capture venture cash and confidence.
The Wall Street Journal spoke with the actress-turned-startup founder about her responsibilities as creative director and what it means to dress Southern. The following interview has been edited for length and clarity.
What prompted you to launch Draper James?
About three years ago when I was traveling between Atlanta and Nashville, I started noticing how much was happening culturally in the South with museums, music venues and restaurants. At that same time I was approached by two Northeast brands to represent them. I don’t know the Hamptons, but I do know the South and I realized there was a white space to tell that story.
Reese Witherspoon on Portraying Hillary Clinton, Finding Great Roles for Women
Reese Witherspoon offered plenty of encouragement to fellow producers on Saturday morning by stressing the need to focus on the female audience — as demonstrated by her recent producing efforts, “Wild,” “Gone Girl” and “Hot Pursuit.”
“Women make up 50 percent of the population,” she said. “We should make up 50% of the movies we see.”
Speaking at the Producers Guild of America’s 7th annual “Produced By” conference on the Paramount lot, Witherspoon said the success of her Pacific Standard company stems partly from Hollywood knowing what to expect from the shingle. Witherspoon noted that she and partner Bruna Papandrea created the banner out of frustration with a lack of interesting roles for actresses.
“It is great to have specificity because people know what to send you,” Witherspoon noted. “We are looking for great female parts.”
But Witherspoon also noted that Pacific Standard wants to succeed on the basis on story. “The films we make are not chick flicks,” she insisted. “‘Wild’ is just about a human being.”
Speaking to a capacity crowd of more than 500 at the Paramount Theater, Witherspoon also addressed the question of whether she’d ever portray Hillary Clinton. She responded by saying that she’s been asked to do so several times and wryly pointed out that she portrayed a young version of Clinton as Tracy Flick in 1998’s “Election.”
“When I did meet Hillary Clinton she said, ‘Everybody talks to me about Tracy Flick in ‘Election,’” Witherspoon added.
Asked by moderator Will Packer if they believed they had made any mistakes with “Wild,” Witherspoon responded: “Shooting 55 locations in 30 days was probably not the best way to start, but we were determined.”
Both producers noted that they were also pregnant at the time. Papandrea said being a mother is not a disadvantage.
“I make better decisions because when I’m leaving my children, I want to do something I love,” she said.
Harper’s Bazaar UK start our year off with a bang with Reese on the cover of their January issue! She looks beautiful in a new photoshoot for the magazine, and talks to them about the production of Wild.
The magazine is available on newsstands tomorrow – pick up a copy!!
‘I would have fired myself a couple of times during rehearsals because I was so scared, oh my God. I got my shit together, but it took me a while.’ – Reese Witherspoon
Reese Witherspoon is Bazaar’s January Cover Star
Far from the cliché of the all-American blonde, Reese Witherspoon is a sophisticated, intelligent star who revels in making tough choices, in work and in life.
Reese Witherspoon is doing what she does best: playing up for the camera. In this case, that means dancing to hip-hop on the Bazaar photo-shoot, dressed in an A-line Michael Kors skirt that jiggles about her like a starched crinoline. Here she goes again, dipping, bopping and shimmying. Watching her from the sidelines, I have to say she’s fantastically entertaining, her face a rolling cartoon strip of perky expressions. Photo-shoots don’t come easily to all actresses but Reese is, as you might expect, handling herself like a pro.
In keeping with the shoot’s vague premise – a 1950s Beverly Hills housewife going about her day – Witherspoon cranes her neck to look past the assembled crew here in the kitchen towards the front porch. Suddenly, she’s the picture of wifely anticipation, her ears pricked up as if her imaginary husband were just now pulling into the driveway and about to barrel through the door with a cheery ‘Honey, I’m home.’
It’s impressive to see and gratifying to have one’s expectations borne out. Because isn’t this the Witherspoon we know and love? Bright, breezy and boundlessly energetic, the seasoned crowd-pleaser who has been at it since the age of 14, the Southern gal with a gift for comedy. Yes, it is, to an extent. But getting the full measure of this 38-year-old, we’d better not reduce her to that. There is a cautionary tale being told here about Hollywood and the media, and Witherspoon is the one telling it. It goes something like this: ‘Don’t put me in that box. Or any box, for that matter. People are complex, on-screen and off. Can’t we do justice to that?’ It’s a word that comes up time and again in discussions with and about her: complex.
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.
Untitled TV Project with Jennifer Aniston
Luckiest Girl Alive
Tiny Beautiful Things
Barbie origins project
In A Dark, Dark Wood
Untitled Rob Long Project
The Thing About Jellyfish
All Is Not Forgotten
Three Little Words
Pale Blue Dot
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