Variety's Actors on Actors series has gone virtual! In this installment, Reese Witherspoon and Regina King reminisce about their past and current projects and look ahead to a more inclusive future in Hollywood.
The duo worked together on Legally Blonde 2 back in 2003. Since then, they both have had extensive careers, winning many awards. Recently, Witherspoon has starred in Big Little Lies, Little Fires Everywhere, and The Morning Show. King has recently found success in HBO's Watchmen based on the 1986 graphic novel, which deals with racism and the police in a world of masked heroes.
As both actresses have assumed producer roles on their projects, they understand the importance of fighting for a more inclusive Hollywood for both women and people of color. Speaking to that, Witherspoon says:
"People don't want to see the same 20 people making movies over and over again with the same 20 actors...It's an amazing time. It's actually audiences who have changed everything...They choose what they want to see and they chose better storytelling by a more diverse group of storytellers...It's amazing to see those opportunities open up for women. Honestly, I didn't think I'd see that in my lifetime."
Witherspoon then turned to King to ask her if she ever expected this changing landscape of film and television that allowed space for women in executive roles, to which she responds:
"Being so young starting in the business, no, I did not actually go into it thinking that this is what I'm going to do. I am going to get behind the camera. I am going to have representation that is diverse or a reflective background of a lot of people...I was just doing what I enjoy doing and it was probably motherhood that had a big deal to do with being conscious of the need to be a part of creating a space that is telling more stories...that are reflective of the world that we live in."
Both being mothers, the two connected on how motherhood changed their perspective of their careers and the entertainment industry. King elaborated her point about motherhood pushing her to create more diverse stories by saying:
"When you know that things aren't right beyond the wall that you're in. As a mother you can't help but [think] okay, I can create this space here that is safe. How can I illuminate that [and] make that bigger so that other women, other people...can feel the need or the desire to make their spaces bigger...My purpose is more than just being an actress."
The two continued discussing making the leap from actress to producer or director and how making that change was difficult as a woman in Hollywood. Witherspoon explained this difficulty by saying:
"I was told just be happy to have a lane and when I was first trying to produce, it wasn't easy. People didn't want to just be helpful. I had to work twice as hard. I had to have twice as many hits to say, oh she really is getting good books...It took me three successes for people to saying, oh that's a real thing. She is a real producer."
In the 50 minute interview, Witherspoon and King continue discussing the strides women have made in Hollywood and the long road ahead. The entire interview can be watched here.
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