Reese Witherspoon Sells Hello Sunshine for $900 Million to Continue Uplifting Women Storytellers
By Samantha Molina
Triple-threat Reese Witherspoon brings clear eyes to the full heart of modern American entertainment. While her early Hollywood endeavors largely took place on film, in recent years, Witherspoon has also transformed the narrative for females — both on and off of the screen.
Witherspoon founded the media company Hello Sunshine to shed new light on intersectionality within female storytelling. Weaving the threads of community, film, television, and books, Witherspoon has created ties for females across the globe to share their truth. Her adaptations between the screen and the written word have proved themselves especially successful, bringing Big Little Lies, Little Fires Everywhere, and The Morning Show, among other hits, to life.
While some would solely celebrate the accomplishments of Witherspoon’s five-year-old Hello Sunshine, Witherspoon chose to look ahead towards the next five years and what it would mean for females in the entertainment empire moving forward.
As of early July 2021, Witherspoon began considering a sale for Hello Sunshine. By early August 2021, Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine sold to a media venture to be run by former Walt Disney Co. executives and backed by Blackstone Group for approximately $900 million, according to initial reports by The Wall Street Journal.
Why is Hello Sunshine’s sale a step in the right direction?
In a society that is, to this day, reluctant to grant females the same rights and privileges as their male counterparts, locating valor to convey female stories remains ever-challenged. Just examine the disparities between the two industries that provide females narrative platforms: publishing and entertainment.
On the one hand, the diversity in publishing survey released by Lee & Low Books in 2019 highlighted that women made up 74% of the industry’s executives, editors, sales specialists, marketing & publicity teams, book reviewers, literary agents, and interns. Interestingly, as seen in The Atlantic, 80% of National Book Critics Circle nominees in 2019 for autobiographical pieces were written by female authors, as were 60% of fictional pieces, 40% of nonfiction pieces, 40% of biographical pieces, and 40% for poetic pieces.
On the other hand, the percentage of top-grossing films with female protagonists drastically decreased from 40% to 29% between 2019 and 2020, and in the top 100 grossing films at the time, women made up only 21% of directors, editors, executive producers, producers, and writers, according to the Center For The Study of Women in Television at California State University, San Diego.
Although Witherspoon and Hello Sunshine certainly do not carry the responsibility of Hollywood as a whole, the media sensation found a niche unlike any other entreprenista. By blending the strong female presence in publishing and lacking female representation in the entertainment industry, Witherspoon has begun expanding a more equitable path for future female storytellers. Still, as Hollywood slowly betters its female representation, countless industries leave room for the same improvement. That work is not just for those with star power — it primarily lies in the hands of the greater public.