by Amber Richards
Reese Witherspoon is not only an absolutely stunning and talented actress, she is a role model for many teenage girls and women across the world, including myself. From her home-grown roots, she is as down-to-earth and Southern as she comes across in movies like Walk The Line or Sweet Home Alabama.
Laura Jeanna Reese Witherspoon (which is her real name) was born on March 22, 1976 in “New Orleans, Louisiana but raised in Nashville, Tennessee. She is the second child Dr. John Draper Witherspoon, “a military surgeon specializing in ear, nose and throat,” and Mary Elizabeth “Betty” Witherspoon, “a registered nurse who later became a pediatric nurse.”  Living in Nashville, Reese was surrounded by famous country musicians, inspiring artists trying to make their way, and actors and actresses that had made it successfully, which somewhat helped her choose acting as a career.
Reese’s story is not close to any “rags to riches” tale; she was an upper-class young lady who “attended an all-girls private school and was later a debutante,”  but she had the ambition and motivation to earn fifty-one awards (including an Academy Award for Best Actress in 2005) and be nominated for eighty-seven awards. Although acting was not her first choice for a career—“Reese went to Stanford University for her freshman year in college (which she did not complete)”—she took a leap of faith and put her whole education on hold for to pursue acting, which would soon impact her life in the most positive and rewarding ways. As an actress, she chooses roles that empower women; through her roles, such as those in Legally Blonde, Walk the Line, Sweet Home Alabama and Cruel Intentions, she shows that any woman can accomplish any dream that comes to mind. “I choose the roles I do because I want my daughter to see what strong, accomplished women are like,” Reese stated in an interview. With three children now, one girl and two boys, she says that they “get the point” on how important it is to follow their dreams and not let anyone or anything stop them, and this is a message she strives to share with the whole world as well. In another interview, she said that if she had one quote she would like the share with other women, it would be, “The thing about ascending is that you have to keep going. The thing about going beyond, is that you have to go. You have to keep rising.” This is truly inspiring, helping and motivating women all across the world with progressing toward any goal, and Reese Witherspoon herself lives by the same quote daily and shows how true it really is.
Personally, my favorite role of hers is the 2001 hit that really put her on the map, Legally Blonde, where she plays Elle Woods. Throughout the whole film, Elle Woods smashes anyone that doubts her becoming a killer lawyer with perfectly manicured fists. She shows that most girls have to go through the Elle Woods crying-alone-in-a-bunny-costume phase to get to your Elle Woods kicking-ass-at-law-school/life phase. Needless to say, Elle Woods is unapologetically ambitious, just as many young women should aspire to be. My other all-time favorite is Walk the Line. Witherspoon takes on a huge role of playing June Carter, wife of the famous country musician, Johnny Cash. June Carter is a woman that doesn’t settle and is incredibly fierce, Witherspoon plays her just like the shoe fits, as if she was born for the role. She brings her own sweet, sassy, and classy charm into the role and helps relive one of the creators of country music today, June Carter. And of course, she also shows the beautiful love story between June Carter and Johnny Cash. She plays the role, portraying how independent, loyal, and strong-minded June was.
With these and other roles, Reese says, “I don’t play any weak characters because I’ve never seen a weak woman! And it’s like we are all scared of being marked as the girl who is really ambitious—as if it was a bad thing!” She wants every woman to feel the importance they have and believes that they should never apologize for being magnificent at everything they do, that instead of hiding it, they should embrace it so much more to show how powerful we are as women and, most importantly, be proud of it.
Reese Witherspoon does more than just show her feminism through her acting; she also has a beautiful heart in the real world. Even though many people are not aware, she is a philanthropist for many notable charities and foundations across the country. She also supports causes for “abuse, adoption, civil rights, and gender equality.” She receives very little recognition for her acts of servitude and kindness, but still continues to carry them out for the greater good. Not many people even know that she was picked to be Global Ambassador for Avon, a widely known company, in 2007. “Avon contributes to women’s causes for domestic violence and empowerment,” which shows everything Reese supports and strongly believes in. As a global ambassador for Avon, Reese has the honor of speaking all over the country about what Avon stands for, and she has kept this honor for nearly ten years. Keep in mind, “she is an actress and not a public speaker”, so this is a whole new ballpark for Reese. However, she still speaks flawlessly and powerfully about the causes she advocates.
She acts for and stands for what she wants her daughter to see growing up, and this shows throughout the many roles she plays as an actress and her career with Avon. Whether she is Elle Woods, June Carter, or a renowned spokeswoman, Reese Witherspoon is a successful philanthropist and role model for women of all ages.
 “Reese Witherspoon.” Biography.com, A&E Television Networks, 6 Jun. 2016.
 “Reese Witherspoon: Awards.” IMDb, 2016.
 "Reese Witherspoon."
 “Quotes.” Glamour Reese Witherspoon, 2011.
 Bronner, Sasha. “Reese Witherspoon Talks ‘Weak’ Female Characters And One Thing Women Should Focus On In 2014.” The Huffington Post, 4 Mar. 2014.
 “Reese Witherspoon: Charity Work, Events and Causes.” Look to the Stars, 2016.
 Avon Products, Inc. “Avon Signs Reese Witherspoon as First Ever Global Ambassador.” PRNewswire, 1 Aug. 2007.
 “Reese Witherspoon: Actress and Global Ambassador.” Lean In, n.d.