Reese Witherspoon has always worn her feminist credentials on her sleeve, slamming gender inequality in Hollywood, championing women’s stories (think Big Little Lies, Gone Girl and Legally Blonde) and establishing her own production company in order to see “different, dynamic women on film” – despite the fact that studio heads have told her time and time again that they’re “not interested in female-driven material”.
All in all, Witherspoon is a woman who knows what she wants and goes after it – and not just in her professional life, either.
In a new interview with Glamour, Witherspoon – who is married to talent agent Jim Toth – stresses the importance of finding a partner who isn’t threatened by your strength.
“Run away from a man who can’t handle your ambition,” she advises fans. “Run.”
And, for those tempted to stick with the person who holds them back because they’re worried they won’t find anyone else, Witherspoon insists that it’s better to be happy and single than unhappy and in a relationship.
Plus, obviously, there really are ‘plenty more fish in the sea’ – and there’s more than one shoal who can recognise the inherent awesomeness of a driven woman.
“So many men think ambition is awesome and sexy,” says Witherspoon.
In the candid interview, Witherspoon called Hollywood out on its misogynist bulls**t.
“I've had studio heads say to me, ‘We don't want to make biopics about women,’ or more simply, ‘We're not interested in female-driven material,’” she says.
“My first go-round as a producer with Gone Girl? Every studio passed but one. When the book hit number one on the bestseller lists, it was a different story.”
However, while Witherspoon admits she has struggled, she made sure to recognise her privilege as a white woman in the film industry.
Recalling a conversation she had with good friend and A Wrinkle In Time co-star, Mindy Kaling, Witherspoon reveals: “Another thing I think about a lot is how it feels to be a minority woman in America, so rarely seeing yourself onscreen, and it's unconscionable.
“When I asked Mindy, ‘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 colour is in today's society.’”
Big Little Lies – which also starred Nicole Kidman and Shailene Woodley – was praised by critics for its endlessly gripping story and strong, complex female characters.
However, while there’s no denying that the feminist drama series created incredible roles for women, it came under fire from some quarters for its majority-male film crew.
Addressing this, Witherspoon told Variety: “Any woman who’s trying to lift other women up and create more work for women is literally just looking for parity.
“We’re not looking to completely take over projects. It’s just nice to have 50-50. You need male energy and female energy on every project. You need different races on every project.
“The deep mission to understand each other is what creates great art.”
Images: Rex Features