Reese Witherspoon has always been an advocate for ambitious women everywhere.
You may recall that Reese Witherspoon gave an inspiring speech about ambition back at Glamour’s Women of the Year Gala in 2015. And now she’s taken to Glamour magazine to write an entire essay on the topic.
She highlights the achievements of women in the entertainment biz like Felicity Jones, Patty Jenkins, and Gal Gadot, whose films’ financial achievements should prove that females in the industry deserve equality. But she also explains,
“I get defeated when I see news that major corporations are paying top male executives significantly more than top female executives, or that women are marching for the same rights they were marching for 45 years ago. It definitely feels backward for women to be fighting for fundamental health care. I mean…really?”
Reese continues on to explain that although the industry is getting (slightly) better in terms of women involved in front of and behind the camera, the low statistics of women in the field is staggering.
She states that although the statistics are upsetting, it’s important to carry on. This is where ambition especially comes into play. She uses her ambition to carry on and continue producing and acting in female-focused films and shows, despite what the industry says. She encourages other women in the industry (and across other fields) to do the same. Keep writing, producing, directing, acting, etc. Make a voice for yourself and others. Let ambition take the wheel.
As much as we are totally rallying behind Reese, we can’t forget the opportunities she has been given as a conventionally attractive, cisgender white woman in the industry. But she does take a moment in the piece to briefly acknowledge this place of privilege she holds. She states.
“When I asked Mindy Kaling, ‘Don’t you ever get exhausted by always having to create your own roles?’ she said, ‘Reese, I’ve never had anything that I didn’t create for myself.’ I thought, Wow, I feel like a jerk for asking that; I used to have parts that just showed up for me. I can’t imagine how hard it is to write your own parts and simultaneously have to change people’s perceptions of what a woman of color is in today’s society.”
We are glad that Reese acknowledges and realizes her position of privilege within the industry.
A lot of what Reese says is easier said than done. The narrative of “if you work hard enough, you’ll get it” can be destructive in certain ways. But we definitely agree with her sentiments that we need more women in the entertainment industry, whether they are directing and starring in blockbuster films, or smaller independent pieces. We need to literally flip the script on gender inequality in the entertainment business.
And obviously, Reese’s words can and should be applied to other industries, especially male-dominated professions.
Probably our favorite nugget of wisdom from Reese comes from the end of the piece. She states,
“Run away from a man who can’t handle your ambition. Run.”
Read Reese’s complete essay on Glamour’s website.