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Reese Witherspoon - The World's Richest Actress - Photo Vanity Fair

Reese Witherspoon becomes the world's richest actress with the sale of her Hello Sunshine media company.

Reese Witherspoon’s decision to bet on herself and women-led stories is paying off richly: The actress is now worth $400 million, Forbes estimates, following Monday morning’s news that a Blackstone-backed media company is purchasing a majority stake in her production company Hello Sunshine.

Reese Witherspoon’s Early Life

Laura Jeanne Reese Witherspoon was born on March 22, 1976, in New Orleans, Louisiana. When she was born, her father John Draper Witherspoon was in medical school at Tulane University. He was an otolaryngologist in private practice.

Her mother, Betty (Reese) Witherspoon obtained her Ph.D. in education and was a professor of nursing at Vanderbilt University.

When she was seven, Witherspoon was cast in some TV commercials or a local florist, which motivated her to take acting lessons.

When she was 11, she took first place in the Ten-State Talent Fair.

Witherspoon was an exceptional student and loved reading. She graduated from the all-girls' Harpeth Hall School in Nashville, where she was a cheerleader. She enrolled at Stanford University as an English literature major.

She dropped out to pursue a career in acting.

Reese Witherspoon's Net Worth

Photo Forbes
Photo Forbes

Reese Witherspoon is an American actress, producer, and entrepreneur. Reese Witherspoon's net worth is $300 million. She has won an Academy Award and an Emmy Award. Reese is also one of the most-popular and highly-paid entertainers in the world. She easily earns $20 – $40 million per year.

Salary and Earnings Highlights

Reese Witherspoon has consistently been one of the highest-paid actresses in Hollywood since the early 2000s. One of Reese's biggest early paychecks was the $200,000 she earned for 1996's "Fear." Three years later she earned $250 thousand for the role that arguably put her on the map, 1999's "Cruel Intentions." Her first multi-million paycheck came from 2001's "Legally Blonde." The success of Legally Blonde bumped her paycheck for 2002's Sweet Home Alabama to $12.5 million. In 2003 she earned $15 million for Legally Blonde 2. She also earned her first Executive Producer credit for the sequel. From this point on, Reese earned a standard $15 million minimum base salary per movie. Between 2001 and 2012 alone she earned more than $120 million in base movie salary. To date, her film salary totals top $250 million.

Apple TV Salary

For her role on the Apple TV show "The Morning Show" both Reese and her co-star Jennifer Aniston earned $1.25 million per episode. As of this writing, that's the fifth-highest amount of money ever paid to an actor on a per-episode basis.

Between August 2017 and August 2018, Reese earned $20 million between film salaries, producing income, and endorsements. Between August 2018 and August 2019 she earned $35 million.

Reese Witherspoon Real Estate

In 2014 Reese spent $12.7 million for a large home in the Pacific Palisades neighborhood of Los Angeles. At the time of purchase, construction was not fully complete. Reese proceeded to spend additional millions on upgrades that included a guard station that was manned 24-hours a day, much to the chagrin of her neighbors. She listed this home for sale in 2016 for just under $20 million without success. Fast forward to April 2020 and she finally found a buyer for $17 million.

In August 2019 Reese spent $6.25 million to acquire a home in the hills of Malibu. She owns several properties in her native Nashville, Tennessee, and a multi-million-dollar mansion in the Bahamas located within a members-only gated community.

Production Company Founding and Sale

In 2000 Reese founded her own production company, Type A Films. In 2012 she merged with a company called Make Movies which was founded by Bruna Papandrea. The new company was renamed Pacific Standard. Pacific Standard produced the Oscar-nominated movies "Gone Girl" and "Wild." In 2016, several major events occurred at Pacific Standard. First, the company began producing the HBO series "Big Little Lies." Secondly, Reese became the majority owner and Bruna Papandrea exited the company. And third, Reese and a private equity executive named Seth Rodsky formed a new company called Hello Sunshine as a joint venture with Otter Media. Pacific Standard became a subsidiary under Hello Sunshine.

In February 2019, Steve Jobs' widow Laurene Powell Jobs made a major investment in Hello Sunshine. At the same time, Otter Media increased its stake.

On August 1, 2021 it was announced that a private equity firm backed by the Blackstone Group had acquired Hello Sunshine. The company reportedly sold at a $900 million valuation. According to reports, Blackstone paid $500 million in cash to buy out Laurene Powell Jobs and Otter Media and the remaining equity stakes owned by Reese and other insiders have been rolled into the newly formed entertainment company.

READ MORE: Top 8 Richest Actresses in Bollywood - India

Reese Witherspoon's Career

Reese Witherspoon began her career in 1990 in a film called "The Man in the Moon." The role earned her a nomination Best Young Actress at the Young Artist Awards. Later that year she starred in the cable TV movie "Wildflower." In 1992, she appeared in another TV movie "Desperate Choices: To Save My Child," and in the next year on a CBS mini-series titled "Return to Lonesome Dove." In 1996, she starred in two major movies, "Fear" alongside Mark Wahlberg, and "Freeway" with Brooke Shields.

In 1998, Witherspoon had starring roles in three films "Overnight Delivery," "Pleasantville," and "Twilight." In "Pleasantville," a film Celebrity Net Worth's Amy Lamare also worked on, Reese starred opposite Tobey Maguire in a story about teenage siblings from the 1990s who are magically transported into the setting of a television series set in the 1950s. She won the Young Hollywood Award for Best Female Breakthrough Performance for her role in "Pleasantville."

In 1999, Witherspoon co-starred with Sarah Michelle Gellar and future husband Ryan Phillippe in the drama film "Cruel Intentions." That same year, Reese starred in the film adaptation of the novel "Election," for which she won Best Actress from the National Society of Film Critics and the Online Film Critics Society. She also earned a Golden Globe and Independent Spirit Award nomination. In 2000, she appeared in "American Psycho" and made guest appearances in "Little Nicky," and an episode of season six of the TV show "Friends," where she played Jennifer Aniston's character's sister.

After co-starring in the 1999 film "Cruel Intentions," Reese began dating Ryan Phillippe. They soon married and were together until 2006 after having two children together. Their divorce was finalized in 2008. She then dated Jake Gyllenhaal for a period.

Photo Today Show
Photo Today Show

In 2001, Witherspoon's career made another peak with the feature film "Legally Blonde," for which she won a Golden Globe for Best Actress. Her next feature film was "Sweet Home Alabama" in 2002, which starred actors Josh Lucas and Patrick Dempsey.

The sequel to "Legally Blond"e released in 2003 grossed $90 million at the box office and paid Witherspoon $15 million, making her one of Hollywood's highest-paid actresses. In 2004 she starred in the film "Vanity Fair," which received excellent reviews. In 2005, she starred in "Walk The Line," the film portrayal of the life of singer/songwriter Johnny Cash, for which she won several awards including a Golden Globe, Academy Award, and awards from the Screen Actors Guild and BAFTA.

In 2011, Reese married entertainment executive Jim Toth. Toth formerly served as the co-head of Creative Artists Agency's motion picture talent division where he represented clients like Matthew McConaughey and Scarlett Johansson. They met at a party and were engaged less than a year later. In March 2019, Toth left CAA to become the head of content acquisitions at short form video platform Quibi.

In 2014, Witherspoon produced and starred in the film adaptation of Cheryl Strayed's memoir "Wild." Witherspoon portrayed Strayed on her 1,000-mile hike along the Pacific Crest Trail.

In January 2016, Witherspoon began filming 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.

Witherspoon produces and stars in the Apple TV+ drama series "The Morning Show" alongside Jennifer Aniston and Steve Carell. Witherspoon was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Television Series Drama and a Golden Globe Award for Best Television Series – Drama for her work in the series. Witherspoon also serves as an executive producer on the Apple TV+ drama series "Truth Be Told" starring Octavia Spencer which premiered in December 2019 and was renewed for a second season in March 2020. Witherspoon stars and serves as an executive producer on the Hulu drama miniseries "Little Fires Everywhere" opposite Kerry Washington, the televised adaption of Celeste Ng's 2017 novel of the same name.

Recently, Reese broke into the television world.

In the past few years, Reese has switched to the small screen and gone back to her roots in drama. Her first big TV project, Big Little Lies, netted her "less than $5 million," per Forbes. But for the show's second season, Reese reportedly raked in $1 million per episode.

Then came The Morning Show, in which Reese plays a morning news anchor alongside Jennifer Aniston. Both actresses made $20 million each for the show's first season—which some people were less than pleased about. But Reese wasn't fazed, she told The Hollywood Reporter.

Photo Etonline
Photo Etonline

"There seemed to be a resentment as if we weren’t worth it or it was bothersome, and I thought, ‘Why is that bothersome?’ I guarantee these companies are real smart, and if they agree to pay us, they’re doing it for a reason. They probably had a lot of lawyers and a lot of business people decide on that number because they knew that they were going to make more than that back," Reese said. "Does it bother people when Kobe Bryant or LeBron James make their contract?" she added.

Reese also made $1.1 million per episode for her role as Elena Richardson in Hulu's Little Fires Everywhere, according to Business Insider.

Making headlines for selling her production company, Hello Sunshine.

Reese has started a few different production companies over the years, the most successful being Hello Sunshine. Hello Sunshine was born in 2016 because Reese wanted an outlet to tell stories centered around women. "My lifelong passion has been to tell women’s stories with authenticity and humor," she said in a statement.

"Hello Sunshine is deeply committed to creating content that will reach women where they spend time, whether it is at a movie theater, at home or on their mobile device. Women are looking for entertainment that speaks to them about what they value. Hello Sunshine will make content that entertains, educates and brings women together."

Photo Forbes
Photo Forbes

On August 2, it was announced that Reese was selling Hello Sunshine to a media company headed by former Disney executives Kevin Mayer and Tom Staggs for around $900 million, per CNBC.

"Today, we’re taking a huge step forward by partnering with Blackstone, which will enable us to tell even more entertaining, impactful and illuminating stories about women’s lives globally. I couldn’t be more excited about what this means for our future," Reese said.

She'll still have an 18% ownership stake in the company and should collect around $120 million from the sale, per Forbes.

And she still has plenty of other side projects.

As if all of that wasn't enough to keep Reese busy, she's also written a New York Times bestselling book, Whiskey In A Teacup. She has her own book club and an app to go along with it.

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