Reese Witherspoon may just be one of the most successful entertainers of our time. From her iconic and beloved character Elle Woods to the hard-balling Bradley Jackson on The Morning Show, she's played some extremely formative female characters over the years — while becoming a major player in real life.
In August, Witherspoon sold her production company, Hello Sunshine, for an astronomical amount of money. And she's not slowing down anytime soon, with projects like Your Place or Mine (with co-star Ashton Kutcher) and Legally Blonde 3 both in the pipeline. But despite what seems like nonstop hustle, on this week's episode of Ladies First with Laura Brown, our December cover star tells InStyle's editor in chief Laura Brown that, just like anyone else, she has off days.
"I 100% have those days where I go, 'I'm just going to lay in bed and watch streaming shows,'" she tells Brown. "And I just need to listen to a podcast and eat junk food. I hate that social media sort of presents [everything] as always sunny and always perky. I wish somebody took a picture of me on the floor lying down. I think [that would] be really funny."
Most of the time, of course, she does get out of bed, and she credits a calling to serve others.
"Everything aligns to the purpose of my life to help people make their lives better, to be in service of others," she says. "Even if it's just for making them laugh over a dumb dance that you did on TikTok."
Reese Witherspoon On the Days She Just Wants to Lie Down Flat: Episode 46: November 9, 2021
This podcast may contain cursing that would not be appropriate for listeners under 14. Discretion is advised.
But her job didn't always bring her this much joy because the actress and producer used to find the amount of pressure on her to be nearly crippling. "I used to beat myself up a lot about performing, and I would get really tense and have really bad panic attacks in my thirties," she tells Brown. But with years of wisdom, experience, and therapy, comes more peace and certainty with what you bring to the table, she says.
Now, she says, "I can handle this. I can handle the pressure of it. I'm always going to perform, because that's what I do, but instead of beating myself up and pressuring myself, I let it go."
And she wants other women to follow suit and take "more ownership of their work." "I'm really in support of anything that helps women own more."
Which is goes hand-in-hand with another uncomfortable subject — one we often avoid mentioning and can take some getting used to: money. Witherspoon says everyone needs to get more comfortable talking about money, so that when it comes to asking for the compensation you deserve, you know the facts.
"I think women do not discuss [money] enough," she says. "They don't share enough, and they don't help each other enough because they are scared of discussing it. I don't know a woman who hasn't had a devastating financial story in her life, whether it's her personal life, her mother's life, or her grandmother's life."
She continues, "I'm not money driven, but I do see it as a piece of value in a marketplace. If I think about what women earn, sometimes their salaries get sort of amplified in media because it seems so enormous, but if you measure it against a man's salary in the same profession, it's usually pretty uneven, certainly in Hollywood. The amount of money that I make on movies is not the same amount that men make on movies, still to this day."
But Witherspoon is getting better at asking for what she deserves, with the help of her husband Jim Toth's advice. "Just pick up the phone," she says, adding that there was a time when she was afraid to go to heads of studios because she felt like there was a barrier between them until she decided to take Toth's suggestion.
"We text and email too much, and you can't figure out what people are really trying to say. So the personal relationship is still really important especially if you're upset about something.
She adds, "I will say I can get pretty much anybody on the phone. That's a power flex, that's a power move."
Listen to the full episode and subscribe on Apple, PlayerFM, Spotify, Stitcher, Amazon Music, or wherever you find your favorite podcasts. And tune in weekly to Ladies First with Laura Brown hosted by InStyle's editor in chief Laura Brown, who speaks to guests like Michelle Pfeiffer, Emily Ratajkowski, Cynthia Erivo, Naomi Watts, La La Anthony, Ellen Pompeo, Rep. Katie Porter, and more to discuss current events, politics, some fashion, and, most importantly, the major firsts in their lives.
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