Reese Witherspoon has established herself as one of the most powerful people in Hollywood. Not only is she an Oscar-winning actor touting a slew of blockbuster and beloved films including Legally Blonde, but she’s also become a producer of hit films (Gone Girl, Wild) and television shows (Big Little Lies, The Morning Show)—and yet somehow she’s still taking heat for getting paid what she’s worth.
Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston are currently starring in Apple TV+’s first marquee program, The Morning Show, where they are each reportedly making $2 million per episode. The salary has drawn criticism, leading the actor to address the issue recently in a lengthy interview with The Hollywood Reporter.
“There seemed to be a resentment, as if we weren’t worth it or it was bothersome, and I thought, ‘Why is that bothersome?'” she said.
“I guarantee these companies are real smart, and if they agree to pay us, they’re doing it for a reason,” Witherspoon continued. “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. Does it bother people when Kobe Bryant or LeBron James make their contract?”
And there it is: The inherent sexism that so often occurs when women fight for salaries equal or more than that of their male counterparts. Aniston and Witherspoon are two the most famous women in the world—and extremely good at their jobs—so why shouldn’t they ask for every penny that someone is willing to pay them?
The lack of interesting roles for women is one of the reasons Witherspoon amped up her production arm in the first place. “We, as women, are expected to stay in our lane—that was the inference, and I had sleepless nights over it. I remember calling one of these other women going, ‘What are we doing about this?'” she said to THR when speaking about the criticism that she and other women who had branched out of just acting received while their fellow male actors did not.
“She’s one of the most determined people I know,” Aniston said of her co-star. “She knew what she was up against and she never put that sword down. She had a message and stories to tell and she was just like, ‘Uh-uh, you can’t tell me no and you can’t pat me on the head and say, oh, aren’t you cute.'”