The popular Hollywood actress Reese Witherspoon has enjoyed success in the movie industry for more than two-and-a-half decades. Over this period, she witnessed firsthand the inequality women have suffered in the business, which is why Witherspoon’s ‘Hello Sunshine’ project empowers women in Hollywood.

Women were subject to a lower pay than their male counterparts, and still are to this very day. Some women were coerced into sexual abuse to either land or keep their role in movies. In recent years, Witherspoon has become an avid campaigner to value women’s contribution in the entertainment industry. Women are an indispensable part of the business. This deserves to be recognized.

Witherspoon’s Career

Reese Witherspoon started acting on the big screen in 1994, at the age of 18. While she was lucky enough to be featured in many movies, she was still seen as just another blonde girl. That is until, ironically enough, she starred in Legally Blonde in 2001. This movie propelled her to fame, and set the tone for her development into one of the most formidable individuals in the Hollywood filmmaking business. To this day, she gets many messages from fans who praise her performance and the film and thank her for inspiring them to be comfortable in their choices. She has since starred in many movies and won a fair share of awards, including an Oscar.

“I didn’t even understand when I was making it that it was a bit of a modern feminist manifesto. Seeing a woman who is interested in feminine attitudes—getting her nails done—but who is also interested in promoting herself and accomplishing things was a new idea of feminine.”

Reese Witherspoon on her character in Legally Blond

Reese Witherspoon means business when it comes to her beliefs. The major issue she held with the roles given to women was that women were not celebrated in the industry. Even as lead characters. This prompted Witherspoon to set up her own media brand Hello Sunshine. Reese created this brand to combat the second-rate parts women were getting. As well as to create a platform that gives women more recognition in the movie industry.

When the project was first introduced, many cynics questioned its purpose and simply excused it as her way to monetize on the #MeToo movement. But her company came about a year before the movement began. In fact, seeing her fellow actors come forward with their stories gave her power to come out as well.

Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine Project

Hello Sunshine works by creating better content for women to work with. According to Witherspoon, improving the types of roles women play will help to close the gender gap in the industry. Hello Sunshine focuses on crafting storylines and plot points that put women in center focus on the big screen. Hollywood, as an industry, has not done much to support and empower its female artists. The industry has a long history of churning out scripts that are sexist, racist, and patriarchal all in the name of entertainment. Witherspoon’s company is working to dismantle these institutions of prejudice by creating a space for women to be heard and appreciated for their work. Hello Sunshine strives to achieve this goal while remaining diverse. Both among the industry professionals they support, and the characters they put in their stories.

This act by Witherspoon to combat inequality in the entertainment industry has received a lot of accolades and media attention. She has even been on several talk shows expressing her passion for getting women the value they deserve on screen. Her campaign’s approach is so successful because it seeks to create a better representation of women as a whole. Rather than depicting them as side characters only there to prop up the central male figures.

Initially many studio executives had told her that her efforts would go to waste as there is no market for female-driven movies and shows. But she proved them wrong as she saw the hunger and delivered. Witherspoon’s women right’s campaign and successful Hollywood releases has brought more established female actresses to her side. Actresses are now lining up to collaborate with Witherspoon, proving that her efforts are working. Reese has even produced the widely popular productions Gone Girl, Big Little Lies, and Wild. Her projects are garnering more momentum because working with Reese’s media company means that female actresses, producers, and writers are finally getting the attention they deserve. She draws a majority of her work from her bookclub which allows female writers of all race and ethnicity to share stories. many of the films and television shows she has worked in have been adaptations of books with strong, independent female protagonists written by similar female authors.

Witherspoon’s Efforts in Breaking Down Barriers

As if creating a more empowering working environment for women in the entertainment business wasn’t enough, Reese Witherspoon recently premiered a new talk show. She wanted her own talk show to give women who have succeeded a platform to talk about their success. She wants to encourage the women watching to follow in her guest’s footsteps. By showcasing powerful and flourishing women on her show not only does she provide women everywhere with new role models, but she also gives girls an opportunity to learn from these women’s stories.

“It’s embedded in our mission. This isn’t about changing the world for white women. It’s elevating intersectional voices.”

Sarah Harden, CEO

Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine is taking steps towards developing more central role for women in movies. While there are female-led companies out there that promote content for women by women, Hello Sunshine is taking it to a whole new level. Witherspoon is building a premium independent film/television production company within a direct-to-consumer brand which functions across various platforms.

This project will inspire younger generations to join in the fight to give women equal rights, and a proper place in the entertainment industry. Women across all industries are beginning to use their voice and their power to create a better future for themselves and each other. It is because we are lucky enough to have the examples that we do, women like Reese, that women everywhere are rising together. 

Interested to learn more about amazing women taking steps to break down barriers for the next generation of females?