PASADENA, Calif. — Tired of others influencing her career choices, Reese Witherspoon launched her own production company eight years ago. She has been calling the shots on both sides of the camera ever since, often in collaboration with other high-profile actresses.
“I didn’t see a place to exist within the industry that we had,” she said. “There just wasn’t a spectrum of storytelling for women that I felt like was representative of the world that we walk through.”
Her company Hello Sunshine generates most of what Witherspoon does when she isn’t working with streaming services like Hulu. Starting in March, it airs “Little Fires Everywhere,” based on Celeste Ng’s 2017 bestseller, with Witherspoon and Kerry Washington playing mothers living in Ohio in the late 1990s. Both women were executive producers as well.
“We really shared all responsibility. That extends to every script, every nuance, every costume design, every cut of every episode,” Witherspoon told a TV critics meeting on Friday.
Washington said, “I don’t know why we can’t be in charge of blockbusters.”
An unintentional impact of the Time’s Up movement against sexual harassment has been bringing women in Hollywood together to act, produce and direct on the same projects, Washington said.
“We’ve been able to grow our friendships and also grow our professional relationships,” she said. “As producers we get to employ hundreds and hundreds of artists and activists, and now we can do it in environments that are safe and have values that embody our values.”
Besides Washington, Witherspoon has worked with Jennifer Aniston and Nicole Kidman.
“We all remark about how much things have changed,” Witherspoon said. “We are put in a position of respect for our ideas, and that is a new world for us.”