THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 100: Reese Witherspoon, Actor/Producer

Welcome to THE BALANCE PROJECT: a series of relevant and refreshingly candid interviews featuring inspiring and accomplished women talking about balance. I’ve always been curious about how women I admire manage the tragically glorified “doing it all” craze. So I asked them. As I suspected, no one really does “it all.” Everyone’s making sacrifices somewhere. And that should make us all feel a little better. I hope the conversation will be steered toward that reality rather than toward the flawed and dangerous assumption that we should try—or even want to try—to perfectly do “it all.”

By the way, looking for THE BALANCE PROJECT novel that was inspired by these interviews? It’s here.

No. 100: Reese Witherspoon, Actor/Producer

Age: 39
Where I live:
 Los Angeles, CA
Job: Actor/Producer
Kids: Two sons, Tennessee (2) and Deacon (11), and a daughter, Ava (15)

090023_09_113-FINAL.tifHave you changed jobs or adjusted anything in your career to have more balance?
When my kids were little, I definitely traveled less and did fewer films. Now that they are older, I find it a bit easier to travel. But I try and balance every busy time with a period of no work and just dedicate that time to my kids.

Is the job you have now the same one you had before kids? If not, how and why did you change directions?
Yes, I’m still an actor. That is my passion. But I’ve added producer and entrepreneur to the work roster. I think the busier you are, the more you get done. It has been a lot of work starting a new business, but it has been exciting learning something new and challenging myself.

Do you think having “it all” is realistic or overrated and why?
No one has it all. No one… Even if it looks that way from the outside. You do the best you can and try and not worry (haha)!

What part of “balance” can you just not seem to figure out?
Sleep… I never sleep enough. I haven’t slept well since 1999, when my daughter was born.

What part of “balance” are you getting better at?
Stress… letting go of things I can’t control.

What was the best advice you ever heard on balance?
From a mentor/co-worker? Someone once told me to always say something positive about your work to your kids at the end of the day. It gives them a sense that work can be a positive thing.
From your mother?
 “You can do anything.” and “Hard work pays off.”
From your spouse? “Don’t wait to be asked to start a charity, produce a movie, or begin a new business. Just do it!”
From your kids? My kids always encourage me, particularly on challenging days. They understand what I do, and they appreciate that I love my job.

If you had one extra hour in each day and you couldn’t work or be with your family, how would you spend that hour?
In a yoga class with friends or maybe taking a nap.

What do you wish you’d known when you were 20?
Not to worry about my body.

What do you hope to know by time you’re 60?
Not to worry about my body.

Whose job do you wish you had?
I always wanted to be a pediatric cardiologist.

Whose job are you glad you don’t have?
A politician’s.

Favorite books?
East of Eden by John Steinbeck, The End of the Affair by Graham Greene, and Birds of America by Lorrie Moore.

What are you reading right now?
Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson and Suite Française by Irène Némirovsky.

Biggest vices…
Activity? Shopping at Bed Bath & Beyond—I’m obsessed.
Food? Cookies! Cupcakes! Donuts! Coffee!
Website? Fashion blogs and funny YouTube videos—I can spend hours.

How many hours do you generally sleep at night during the week?
5 or 6.

What do you read every morning?
theSkimm.

Complete the following sentences:
I think I: am enjoying life more as I get older….
I wish I: had more free time.
My kids: are my greatest joy.

Do you have a personal motto or favorite saying?
“You gotta make hay while the sun shines.” My dad said that a lot.

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Anything else you’d like to add?
I love this project. Women should share their stories so we all feel more connected… And so we know we aren’t alone. 🙂

Screen Shot 2015-06-29 at 1.33.23 PMAbout Reese:
Academy Award winner Reese Witherspoon has created the kinds of unforgettable characters that connect with critics and audiences alike, making her one of Hollywood’s most sought after actress, with her box office tally in excess of $1 billion worldwide in critically and commercially successful films such as LEGALLY BLONDE, FOUR CHRISTMASES, and WATER FOR ELEPHANTS, among others. Witherspoon has also transitioned into a formidable producer: in 2012, she partnered with producer Bruna Papandrea to launch Pacific Standard Films, which has gone on to produce the critically and commercially successful films GONE GIRL and WILD, the latter for which she received Academy Award, Golden Globe, SAG, and BAFTA Award nominations for her portrayal of Cheryl Strayed. In 2006, her extraordinary performance as June Carter Cash in the 20th Century Fox bio-pic WALK THE LINE, earned her the Academy Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role, as well as the BAFTA, Golden Globe Award, Screen Actors Guild Award, New York Film Critics Award, Broadcast Film Critics Award, People’s Choice Award, and 11 other awards. She is also cofounder of the production shingle Pacific Standard (WILD, GONE GIRL) and Draper James, a retail brand with a focus on fashion, accessories, and home décor inspired by the American South.

Find out more about Reese:
www.DraperJames.com
Twitter: @rwitherspoon
Facebook: ReeseWitherspoon
Instagram: @reesewitherspoon
Pinterest: pinsbyreese

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WANT TO READ MORE ABOUT WORK-LIFE BALANCE? CHECK OUT MY NEW NOVEL THE BALANCE PROJECT!

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