Reese Witherspoon knows her worth and isn’t afraid to speak about it.
During a recent chat with journalist Margaret Gardiner on The HFPA in Conversation podcast, the 44-year-old actress touched upon the 2002 Academy Awards, where she presented on stage with her then-husband, Ryan Phillippe, 46. While announcing the Oscar winner for achievement in makeup, the actor told Witherspoon that she could read out the winner’s name, saying, “You make more than I do, so go ahead.”
Admitting that she had forgotten about the on-screen moment, Witherspoon told Gardiner, “You’re reminding me of that! I forgot that ever happened. But you’re right, he did say that, and no, it wasn’t scripted.”
The Oscar award-winning star added, “He didn’t tell me he was going to say that before it happened on air. So I was a little bit flummoxed in the moment, too.”
Later in her candid conversation with Gardiner, Witherspoon continued to speak on the moment, detailing “a double standard that exists in our society.”
“There’s so few women that make a lot of money that sometimes they’re shamed for it, and sometimes they are expected to give more and do more and be more to others in the same position that say a male movie star would not be expected to. And that’s just a double standard that exists in our society,” she said. “But I do think gender norms have changed quite a bit since that moment in 2000 …”
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“I do think there are more women making money. I think there’s more conversation around the division of domestic labor and that men are capable and happy and willing to do things that maybe their fathers didn’t do when they were growing up,” Witherspoon continued. “But I think it all gets back to the point that we need to talk.”
She added, “Women need to talk about money and how they made money and not feeling ashamed of it.”
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The Legally Blonde star then shared a story about how her daughter once came home from school in tears, explaining that she felt “so embarrassed” when her classmates brought up that her famous mother was one of the highest-paid actresses in Hollywood.
The actress said that she sat Ava down and told her there was no shame in her success, adding that Ava should never “feel bad about your mom making money.”
“I said, ‘Don’t ever feel ashamed of a woman making money.’ There are women all over this world who don’t have an opportunity or an education or the ability to make money,” said Witherspoon, who is also mom to 8-year-old son Tennessee with husband Jim Toth. “And the more women who make more money, will give more money away, will take care of their societies, will take care of their communities, will do more with that money. So don’t ever feel bad about your mom making money, and don’t ever feel bad if you make money, and don’t feel embarrassed or ashamed if it’s more than your partner.”
Witherspoon added, “And that’s a lesson that I had to learn because my mother certainly wasn’t in that situation and neither was my grandmother. I’m still navigating that as a woman.”