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.
The deal values Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine, which was founded in 2016 to tell women-driven stories, at $900 million, thanks to its track record of hits like Big Little Lies, The Morning Show and Little Fires Everywhere, and a promising pipeline of adaptations of popular books. The new media firm, which will be run by former Disney execs Kevin Mayer and Tom Staggs, bought out existing investors in Hello Sunshine, including AT&T and Laurene Powell Jobs’ Emerson Collective, as well as a piece of Witherspoon’s stake.
Witherspoon will retain an ownership stake of at least 18% and will collect an estimated $120 million, after taxes, from the sale of about half of her preexisting roughly 40% stake in the company. The rest of her fortune is tied to her (after tax) earnings from her 30-year-long career as a successful actress and producer. Witherspoon is one of Hollywood’s most bankable stars, and can command sky-high pay. She earns at least $1 million an episode for her television work—she’s getting $1.2 million per episode for producing and starring in Apple TV+’s The Morning Show, according to industry insiders—and millions more for film roles. She’s a popular endorser, earning top-dollar for her work in commercials for companies like Crate & Barrel.
Prior to the #MeToo movement and widespread calls for gender equity in show business, Witherspoon was frustrated by the roles offered to her and the dearth of women-led stories in Hollywood. In 2012, she founded Pacific Standard, which produced the films Wild and Gone Girl. In 2016, her production efforts morphed into Hello Sunshine. The company has a number of projects in development, including the forthcoming Netflix series From Scratch, starring Zoe Saldana, and Apple TV+’s The Last Thing He Told Me, starring Julia Roberts. On the film side, Hello Sunshine is adapting the best-selling novel Where the Crawdads Sing.
Read the full profile on Forbes: forbes.com/sites/dawnchmielewski/2021/08/02/how-reese-witherspoon-has-become-the-worlds-richest-actress/?sh=54df2feb4d9b
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