The $120 Million Woman: How Reese Witherspoon Conquered Hollywood
What’s more impressive: winning more than 50 awards in movies and television — including an Oscar, a BAFTA and a Golden Globe — or having a net worth of approximately $120 million?
While that net worth may not have been possible without the awards, Reese Witherspoon is certainly more than just a talented actress. The 42-year-old Hollywood A-lister is also an accomplished entrepreneur with a keen eye for business. She’s been working hard since she was just a kid.
If you’ve ever wanted to know more about the Southern belle from “Legally Blonde,” check out these 18 facts about Witherspoon’s life and lifestyle.
She Started Her Career Early
Witherspoon made her big screen debut at just 14 years old.
She played the main role in “The Man in the Moon,” a coming of age drama about a Louisiana girl. The film was critically acclaimed and earned four stars from Roger Ebert, who also commended Witherspoon’s performance.
Her Daughter Worked at a Pizza Joint
By contrast, Reese’s daughter, Ava, is not starring in movies just yet.
Reese sent her to work at a pizza shop in the ‘burbs of Hollywood for her summer job in 2017. It wasn’t a permanent thing, of course — Ava just became a fashion model. It was probably just a way for Reese to help her daughter build character.
As a side note, 18-year-old Ava looks much like an 18-year-old Reese.
She’s Not Just an Actor, She’s a Leader
Fortune ranked Witherspoon at No. 35 in its 2018 “World’s 50 Greatest Leaders” roundup.
The publication cited Witherspoon being an “integral player in the current golden age of TV,” as well as her involvement in the Time’s Up Movement, which led to HBO addressing its own gender pay gaps.
Her Engagement Ring Is Crazy Expensive
When Hollywood talent agent Jim Toth proposed to Witherspoon in 2010, he did so in a sparklingly expensive fashion: Toth reportedly asked the Southern belle to marry him with a rare four-carat Ashoka diamond ring from William Goldberg, which has an estimated worth of $250,000.
Her Breakout Role Paid $1 million
While Witherspoon was certainly not an unknown before “Legally Blonde,” she wasn’t yet a household name. That all changed in 2001 when “Legally Blonde” became a box office sensation, making nearly $142 million on an $18 million budget.
Witherspoon was reportedly paid $1 million for the role — which is nothing to sneeze at. Then she earned 15 times more than that for the film’s 2003 sequel, “Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde.”
She Dropped Out of College
Witherspoon only spent a year at Stanford University in the mid-1990s, where she studied English literature, before leaving to pursue her acting career.
She quickly landed roles in “Freeway,” “Fear,” “Twilight” (not the one with glittering vampires), “Pleasantville” and “Cruel Intentions.”
She’s Now One of Hollywood’s Highest Paid Actresses
Ten years ago, Weatherspoon commanded $15 to $20 million per film and earned the No. 1 spot on Hollywood’s highest paid actresses by the Hollywood Reporter. In 2015, she ranked the eighth highest paid actress, at $15 million per film by Forbes.
And Sometimes She Dresses Like It
Witherspoon wasn’t afraid to flaunt her wealth at the 2015 Golden Globes.
According to US Magazine, the actress rocked a pair of $600,000 diamond earrings, a $695,000 6.75 carat platinum ring and a $200,000 diamond bracelet. That adds up to about $1.5 million in jewelry from Tiffany & Co. — not counting the beaded Calvin Klein gown.
Whether or not she actually owns all that garb is another issue entirely.
Award ceremonies are a haven for top-end fashion designers to get publicity while loaning their wares to big name celebs. In fact, she might have even been paid: According to the Hollywood Reporter, fashion companies can pay “actresses up to $250,000 to wear a dress or up to $1 million for a piece of jewelry.”
She Owns Her Own Lifestyle Brand
Does your closet or kitchen need a touch of Southern charm? Witherspoon has your back — for the right price.
In 2013 she founded Draper James, a clothing and lifestyle brand that stamps Southern charm on everything from iPhone cases to wicker handbags and sun dresses. The store does cater to more affluent shoppers. Case in point, those iPhone cases cost $40 each.
However, she did recently announce more “accessible prices” for her new spring lineup.
She Likens Pitching Venture Capitalists to Acting
Draper James began as a startup.
While Witherspoon may have been able to fund the entire thing herself, she went about funding the business like any other startup: By getting money from venture capitalists. She likened it to acting, and also said it didn’t matter that she was an A-lister.
“I had to go into lots of different meetings with lots of different venture capitalists and I [had] to pitch the company," Witherspoon told The Today Show. “That was a scary time because they don't care who you are. It's whether your business is viable and it's robust."
It must have been viable. In 2015, she raised $10 million for Draper James.
She Renovated a Nashville Mansion
Nashville is where Witherspoon grew up, and it seems to be where she may ultimately want to live.
According to Variety, the star owns “at least” four homes in the city. Most recently, she bought a fixer-upper mansion: a run-down 3,855-square-foot mansion on 6.5 acres she purchased for $1.95 million in 2014, according to Variety. While certainly stately, the home clearly needed some work. Witherspoon was up to the task.
Check out the before photos and head on over her Instagram for sneak peeks inside this property.
She Lives in a $12.7 Million Mansion
While Witherspoon’s heart may be in Nashville, her premier property is in that ridiculously wealthy neighborhood of Pacific Palisades in Los Angeles, California.
According to Variety, Witherspoon and Toth bought the then-under-construction mansion for $12.7 million in 2014. Then in 2017, Variety reported that the couple were looking to offload the property for about $20 million, although there’s no other indication that it sold or that the couple is still looking for a buyer.
She’s Raking in Cash from HBO
The award-winning show “Big Little Lies” is a honeypot for Witherspoon, who, along with co-star Nicole Kidman, will earn about $1 million per episode for the upcoming second season.
Prior to the pay bump, Witherspoon was making $250,000 for the pilot season (Kidman made $350,000).
She’s a Big Part of Apple’s Move into Original Series Production
Witherspoon is a big part of Apple’s $1 billion foray into original programming. The tech giant is reportedly set to release 10 shows in 2018, and one of them is a show starring Witherspoon.
It’s a morning show drama that will co-star Jennifer Aniston. Both stars will reportedly make $1.25 million per episode, and Apple has already ordered two seasons at a 20-episode commitment. That’s $25 million just for Witherspoon’s acting chops.
But she’s making much more than that from Apple.
She’s Involved in Two More Apple Shows
Just how much of that $1 billion is going to Witherspoon? Apple has also ordered one 10-episode season of a comedy show starring Kristen Wiig and produced by Witherspoon.
On top of that, Apple is also making “Are You Sleeping,” a thriller drama about a podcast that reopens a murder case. So out of 10 shows, Witherspoon is directly involved with three of them.
She’s CEO of Her Own Film Production Company
Witherspoon has always been entrepreneurial.
She started her first production company, Type A Films, back in 2000. The company produced five movies, including the entire “Legally Blonde” series, before the studio became known as Pacific Standard in 2012. Pacific Standard produced the award-winning films “Wild” and “Gone Girl.”
The driving force behind her film production company is to create films with female-driven storylines.
But Starting Her Production Company Wasn’t Easy
Starting a film production company and keeping it going is a difficult thing, especially for a young female actress. As she wrote in Glamour:
“Some people are realizing that projects with female leads are big-time money making commodities, but I’ve also 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.’”
“I self-funded my production company for years. I think there’s this fallacy that because I’ve been an actor, people are going to hand me stuff. Nobody hands me anything. I’ll wake up earlier; I’ll stay up later. I will put my money where my mouth is. I have to read faster, and I respond quicker than other producers. I have to call and call and call executives until they say yes to my projects.”
She’s Also a Multimedia Producer
Not one to be constrained to just film, Witherspoon launched the multimedia production company, Hello Sunshine.
The driving force behind Hello Sunshine is the same as Witherspoon’s film production ideals, only instead of focusing on film, it branches out into television, podcasts and other digital content.
Another snippet from her article in Glamour:
“Women directors, writers, and producers still face considerable challenges just getting hired in the first place. Only about one in four people working in those roles in TV are women; in film it’s even worse — 17 percent. This is what I’m really trying to change.”