Laura Jeanne Reese Witherspoon (born March 22, 1976) is an American actress, producer, and entrepreneur. She is the recipient of several accolades, including an Academy Award, a Primetime Emmy Award, a BAFTA Award, a Screen Actors Guild Award, two Golden Globe Awards and two Critics’ Choice Awards.
Born in New Orleans, Louisiana, and raised in Tennessee, she began her career as a teenager, making her professional screen debut in The Man in the Moon (1991), for which she was nominated for a Young Artist Award. Following roles in Desperate Choices: To Save My Child (1992), Jack the Bear (1993), Freeway (1996), and Pleasantville (1998), Witherspoon’s breakthrough came with her portrayal of Tracy Flick in the black comedy Election (1999), for which she was nominated for a Golden Globe Award.
She achieved international recognition with her role as Elle Woods in the comedy Legally Blonde (2001), for which she received her second Golden Globe nomination. The following year, she starred in the romantic comedy Sweet Home Alabama, which emerged as her biggest live-action commercial success. In 2005, her portrayal of June Carter Cash in the biographical musical film Walk the Line, received critical acclaim and won her the Academy Award for Best Actress. Her other films include Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde (2003), Monsters vs. Aliens (2009), Water for Elephants (2011), and Sing (2016). In 2014, Witherspoon produced the thriller Gone Girl and received praise for her portrayal of Cheryl Strayed in the drama Wild, which earned her a second nomination for the Academy Award for Best Actress. In 2017, she co-produced and starred in the HBO drama series Big Little Lies, for which she received two Primetime Emmy Award nominations for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie and Outstanding Limited Series, winning the latter as a producer.
Witherspoon owns a production company Hello Sunshine, a clothing company Draper James, and she is actively involved in children’s and women’s advocacy organizations. She serves on the board of the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) and was named Global Ambassador of Avon Products in 2007, serving as honorary chair of the charitable Avon Foundation. She received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2010.
2017–present: Success with television ventures
In January 2016, Witherspoon began filming her first television project since Return To Lonesome Dove, the seven-part miniseries adaptation of the Liane Moriarty bestseller, Big Little Lies. She produced the miniseries, along with her co-star, Nicole Kidman, and the show’s director, Jean-Marc Vallée, her second project under his direction. The series premiered on February 19, 2017 on HBO and finished on April 2. Witherspoon has garnered critical acclaim for her performance, with TV Line proclaiming her as “Performer of the Week” of February 26 to March 4. The Washington Post compared her performance to her previous work in Election and Legally Blonde.
In November 2016, Witherspoon began production on the romantic comedy Home Again, the directorial debut of filmmaker Nancy Meyers’ daughter, Hallie Meyers-Shyer, which was released on September 8, 2017. A few months later, she began filming Disney’s A Wrinkle in Time, the film adaptation of Madeleine L’Engle’s classic novel of the same name, where she plays Mrs. Whatsit. The film was released in March 2018, co-stars Oprah Winfrey and Mindy Kaling, and is directed by Ava DuVernay.
In July 2018, Witherspoon began hosting the talk show Shine On with Reese on DirecTV. The show is a one-on-one interview between Witherspoon and a female guest focussing on how the guest achieved her dreams. Like Big Little Lies, the show is produced by her production company Hello Sunshine. The show marks Witherspoon’s first unscripted role in television.