Reese Witherspoon is one of Hollywood's most famous actresses. However, after realizing that women are underrepresented and underpaid in the film industry, she decided to found her own production company: Hello Sunshine.
The Woman Post | Carolina Rodríguez Monclou
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Witherspoon is an Academy Award-winning actress for her role June Carter Cash in Walk the Line. She is well-known for starring in the acclaimed film Legally Blonde. The Cruel Intentions star was also nominated for an Academy Award for Wild and won awards for the Golden Globes and Emmys for Big Little Lies.
In her acceptance speech of Glamour’s Woman of the Year, Witherspoon said that she wanted to bring women to the front of their own stories. Hello Sunshine's CEO started her acting career when she was 14 years old.
In an interview with Upfront Ventures, she reflects on how while she was growing up she was the only woman on a movie set. As she got older, the actress noticed how that narrative just kept perpetuating.
There were so few parts for women that she didn't get to meet her actress's peers. When Witherspoon turned 33, she realized that Hollywood stopped using big budgets for women's movies. At that time, the actress received a questionable script about two women fighting over a male lead. She reveals "both the parts were offensive, and there were tons of boob jokes."
The actress called her agent and denied participating in such a project. Nobody was developing movies that put women at the center of the story. For this reason, Witherspoon decided to spend her own money and founded Hello Sunshine.
A recent study in Axios revealed that women consume more media. They are watching 76 hours of television every week as compared to 60 hours a week for men.
So, why don't we make women the center of stories written by women as well? Witherspoon says that "women are the largest captured consumer audience in the world," however, the film industry is still making content with men at the center.
Hello Sunshine's CEO highlights that Hollywood is still living in old systems, and it needs to evolve. Her company made the film adaptation of the New York Times Best-Selling Books Gone Girl and Wild before achieving great success in libraries and book stores. Those films grossed over half a billion dollars worldwide, and they got three nominations for Academy Awards for women in acting performances.
All of Hello Sunshine's productions have female leads of different ages, races, backgrounds, and jobs. These protagonists are strong and triumphant like real-life women. Witherspoon's success as an entrepreneur demonstrates that female-driven films work.
The actress's company started in 2016. Along the way, she joined forces with Sarah Harden, a media and technology executive with deep experience building video-led modern media brands for specific audiences. Witherspoon named her the CEO of Hello Sunshine in February of 2018. Since then, both keep leading the company to successful productions center in diverse women. With an MBA from Harvard Business School, Sarah has demonstrated her potential and efficiency to lead the company. Both are making a huge change in the entertainment industry and women's representation in media.