+
upworthy
More

Reese Witherspoon revealed she was sexually assaulted at 16, in a powerful speech.

Reese Witherspoon's three decades in Hollywood have been peppered with prestigious awards, a long list of blockbuster successes — and, she shared recently, several incidents of sexual assault at the hands of powerful men.

The A-lister was on stage at ELLE's Women in Hollywood event on Oct. 16, introducing her "Big Little Lies" co-star Laura Dern, when she revealed she's been sexually harassed numerous times throughout her career. One instance, she said, occurred when she was just 16 years old.

Inspired by the dozens of women who've come forward in recent days alleging disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein harassed, assaulted, or raped them, Witherspoon joined the chorus of those demanding more needs to be done.



"I didn’t sleep at all last night," Witherspoon began, reflecting on a difficult week of news for many survivors of sexual assault.

"I have my own experiences that have come back to me very vividly, and I found it really hard to sleep, hard to think, hard to communicate," Witherspoon told the crowd. "A lot of the feelings I’ve been having about anxiety, about being honest, the guilt for not speaking up earlier or taking action. True disgust at the director who assaulted me when I was 16 years old and anger that I felt at the agents and the producers who made me feel that silence was a condition of my employment."


Reese Witherspoon and her daughter Ava Phillipe at the ELLE Women in Hollywood event. Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for ELLE.

Witherspoon continued:

"I wish I could tell you that that was an isolated incident in my career, but sadly, it wasn’t. I’ve had multiple experiences of harassment and sexual assault, and I don’t speak about them very often, but after hearing all the stories these past few days and hearing these brave women speak up tonight, the things that we’re kind of told to sweep under the rug and not talk about, it’s made me want to speak up and speak up loudly because I felt less alone this week than I’ve ever felt in my entire career."

Witherspoon instructed the room of Hollywood influencers on how to advance the cause in their own lines of work.

Namely, she said, they need to do whatever they can to help put more women in positions of power.

She continued (emphasis added):

"There’s a lot of people here who negotiate quite frequently with different companies and heads of companies, and I think maybe during your next negotiation, this is a really prudent time to ask important questions like, who are your top female executives? Do those women have green-light power? How many women are on the board of your company? How many women are in a key position of decision-making at your company? Asking questions like that, I found, it seems so obvious, but people don’t ask those questions."

Witherspoon isn't just talking the talk either. She's been changing the game for women in Hollywood for years.

In 2012, Witherspoon launched Pacific Standard, a production company focused on creating more women-led entertainment projects. It's produced blockbusters like "Wild" and "Gone Girl," as well as the critically acclaimed miniseries "Big Little Lies," in which Witherspoon starred alongside Dern, Nicole Kidman, and Shailene Woodley. The series was widely praised for drawing attention to issues surrounding domestic abuse and sexual violence.

[rebelmouse-image 19529704 dam="1" original_size="750x530" caption="The cast of HBO's "Big Little Lies." Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images." expand=1]The cast of HBO's "Big Little Lies." Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images.

After the 2016 presidential election, Witherspoon also decided to launch Hello Sunshine — an online platform aimed at allowing women from across the country to share their own stories and be heard.

But so much more is needed.

We desperately need more people like Witherspoon working behind the scenes in Hollywood.

A study released in January found women made up just 7% of director roles across the industry's top 250 films in 2016 — down 2% from the year before. If filmmaking wants to be a more inclusive and less abusive industry for women, men need to become allies in action, advocating for more women to take up space behind closed doors, where deals are made and movies are green-lit.

But Witherspoon — who's "really, really encouraged that there will be a new normal" after the Weinstein allegations went public — believes change is on the horizon.

"For the young women sitting in this room, life is going to be different for you because we have you, we have your back," Witherspoon said. "And that makes me feel better because, gosh, it’s about time."

Pop Culture

Two brothers Irish stepdancing to Beyoncé's country hit 'Texas Hold 'Em' is pure delight

The Gardiner Brothers and Queen Bey proving that music can unite us all.

Gardiner Brothers/TikTok (with permission)

The Gardiner Brothers stepping in time to Beyoncé's "Texas Hold 'Em."

In early February 2024, Beyoncé rocked the music world by releasing a surprise new album of country tunes. The album, Renaissance: Act II, includes a song called "Texas Hold 'Em," which shot up the country charts—with a few bumps along the way—and landed Queen Bey at the No.1 spot.

As the first Black female artist to have a song hit No. 1 on Billboard's country music charts, Beyoncé once again proved her popularity, versatility and ability to break barriers without missing a beat. In one fell swoop, she got people who had zero interest in country music to give it a second look, forced country music fans to broaden their own ideas about what country music looks like and prompted conversations about bending and blending musical genres and styles.

And she inspired the Gardiner Brothers to add yet another element to the mix—Irish stepdance.

Keep ReadingShow less

Kellogg's CEO tells people to eat cereal to save money

It doesn't matter if you're a single adult or married with children, there's nothing quite like having cereal for dinner or a late night snack once in a while.

Something about it feels nostalgic but it's also really easy to fall back on when you're too exhausted to cook a full meal. There's nothing wrong with grabbing a bowl of cereal for a meal outside of breakfast. You're feeding yourself or your family a food that contains some of the vitamins a body needs.

Maybe that's the thought process Kellogg's CEO Gary Pilnick was going with when he unintentionally sparked some serious backlash. Pilnick was interviewed by CNBC's "Squawk on the Street" discussing the cereal giant's new commercial featuring Tony the Tiger. The commercial itself isn't really the problem. It features a mom holding a box of cereal with kids excitedly awaiting their cereal for dinner chanting along with Tony the Tiger's call to eat the sweet meal.

The backlash came followeing Pilnick's comments about why his company felt the need to create a commercial advocating families eating cereal for diner.

Keep ReadingShow less


We all know that Americans pay more for healthcare than every other country in the world. But how much more?

According an American expatriate who shared the story of his ER visit in a Taiwanese hospital, Americans are being taken to the cleaners when we go to the doctor. We live in a country that claims to be the greatest in the world, but where an emergency trip to the hospital can easily bankrupt someone.

Kevin Bozeat had that fact in mind when he fell ill while living in Taiwan and needed to go to the hospital. He didn't have insurance and he had no idea how much it was going to cost him. He shared the experience in a now-viral Facebook post he called "The Horrors of Socialized Medicine: A first hand experience."

Keep ReadingShow less
Pop Culture

Monica Lewinsky reclaims the office power suit in new voting campaign

The activist teamed with apparel brand Reformation to combat voter frustration in a fabulous way.

Lewinsky partnered with Reformation for their "You've Got The Power" voting campaign

Monica Lewinsky knows a thing or two about reinvention.

The former White House intern became the source of media obsession after her affair with former President Bill Clinton become public. It solidified her place in history against her will, but through her actions since, Lewinsky has transformed her public persona into a feminist icon and champion of a powerful anti-bullying campaign.

Now, the 50-year-old Lewinsky is lending her household name to sustainable fashion brand Reformation and Vote.org in hopes to encourage people to vote this year.
Keep ReadingShow less
Pop Culture

Don't worry, Wendy's isn't raising prices during the busiest times. But changes are coming.

People were very upset after hearing that surge pricing may come to the local drive-thru.

A combo meal from Wendy's.

In a world where prices are continuously increasing, prominent companies are turning to surge pricing to raise prices even further during peak demand times. Uber charges people more for a ride when demand is high. Hotels have been changing prices based on demand for years and Amazon uses AI to keep prices constantly in flux.

Recently, Ticketmaster, known for charging high fees, has been charging customers even more for tickets as demand rises.

On Monday, February 26, news reports began circulating that Wendy’s, America's 5th most popular fast-food chain, would implement dynamic pricing at its restaurants. Many assumed that meant a Dave’s Double burger would cost an extra $3 during dinner time or medium fries would cost an extra buck during the lunch rush.

Keep ReadingShow less
Pop Culture

What is in its 'golden age' but not enough people know about it?

There's so much good out there if you know where to look.

Canva

From astronomy to knitting, some fields of human endeavor are having a heyday.

When you peruse the news headlines or dive into discussions on current events on social media, it's pretty easy to feel despondent. Doom and gloom sells, unfortunately, and our natural negativity bias that's meant to protect us can be overworked by a 24/7 bombardment of humanity's challenges.

There is an anecdote to all of that, though: Curating and cultivating the good. Sometimes it's just knowing where to look to find examples of problems being solved, discoveries being made, innovation taking huge leaps and other evidence that humans are moving our collective life forward in incredible ways.

Someone on Reddit asked, "What is currently in its 'Golden age,' but not enough people know about it?" and thousands of people responded. Reading through the answers is an enlightening and uplifting glimpse of things we might not personally be involved with but are happy to see having a heyday. Like, who wouldn't like to know that we're in a golden age of astronomy and paleontology. Space and dinosaurs? It's like realizing our 5-year-old selves' ideal future.

Keep ReadingShow less