The first time I remember wanting to be Reese Witherspoon when I grew up, was not, actually, seeing her as Elle Woods in Legally Blonde, when she endeared herself to millions of teenage girls and became a Hollywood A-lister after years in the business.
Nor was it her perfect turn in Election, which gave rise to a type of intense, Type-A blonde lady that she would return to again and again who seemed to be telegraphing, prior to her stating it regularly in speeches herself, that ambition is not a dirty word.
As best as I can recall, my idolization of her began in about 2004, when Paris Hilton was sweeping the nation and women were, once again, famously playing dumb. Witherspoon was having none of it.
The actress doubled down and gave a similar spiel about playing to the top of your intelligence at the MTV Movie Awards a few years later, among many other appearances.
Quotes like this are commonplace today among celebrities (as they should be!), but that was so not the Hollywood playbook 15 years ago. That Witherspoon so consistently discussed her ambitions and goals was gratifying and electric to me in high school. As she’s clearly gotten more and more comfortable with it, it’s been a thrill to continue to watch — and to see how many more women are now joining her.
Witherspoon’s now presumably enjoying a lot of praise for all she’s built over the last several years: her production company, Pacific Standard Films; her content company, Hello Sunshine; her clothing line, Draper James; her still-flourishing acting career (Big Little Lies); her Direct TV channel devoted to inspiring and lifting up women; her popular book club; her Crate & Barrel tie-in home-wear line, etc.
It’s a treat to see all those pieces she’s worked on come together in her new book, Whiskey in a Teacup: What Growing Up In the South Taught Me About Life, Love and Baking Biscuits.
The book, which dropped last week, isn’t a typical memoir of her Hollywood years. It’s a loving ode to her Southern upbringing, and the traditions and places that made her who she is.
In it, Witherspoon discusses her love of Dolly Parton and Kate Middleton, why a cake dish is the best wedding gift ever (“Cake plates remind you of fun times and good things. No one is depressed when they see a cake plate”), and why you really should be monogramming your towels.
But while any Reese-iphile (that’s a thing, right?) will enjoy flipping through this perfectly instagram-able lifestyle tome for old pics and anecdotes from the actress, a big treat for long-time fans is seeing how each venture she’s undertaken over her career clearly feed into each other to create something larger.
“A big treat for long-time fans is seeing how each venture she’s undertaken over her career clearly feed into each other to create something larger”
It’s powerful. It’s ambitious. And I couldn’t get enough.
For example, there is a chapter about how to throw the perfect book club party. Fun!
That section tells fans all about how Witherspoon was a big reader growing up. She then lays out her perfect book club meeting menu, which includes red and white wine (a woman after my heart!), baked brie, hot spinach-artichoke dip, an olive medley and a good cheese plate.
I’m thrilled to report the spinach-artichoke dip is delicious. But it doesn’t end with just a yummy app.
Did you know that Witherspoon has a very successful book club on Instagram? And also it has now taken off and partnered with Audible? And her production company is working on adapting some of these Book Club novels she touts into inevitably award-winning series? (See: Little Fires Everywhere, mentioned in Whiskey in a Teacup as a recent fave, coming soon to Hulu.)
She’s dominating every part of the game! Witherspoon’s an entrepreneurial badass and I can’t wait to see what’s next.
This charmer of a book shows the fruits of her labor all strung together. You can view, in gorgeous typeface and swoon-worthy photos, each thing she’s built over her career and the steps she’s taken to continue to grow it. It’s inspiring — even if, apologies Reese, I’m never, ever going to monogram anything.