The Hollywood Reporter did a great interview with Reese Witherspoon in advance of this honor, which is well worth a read. She is smart and a hard worker and seemingly dauntless, and she also shares some stories from when the industry was a lot less open to both her and women in general:
Witherspoon […] requested an audience with each of the town’s studio heads to get a better feel for what was really going on. She asked all seven the same question: What are you developing for a female lead? With one exception, nobody had an answer. “One even said to me, ‘We have a movie with a woman at the center of it, but we’re not going to make two this year,’ ” she says, “without any embarrassment.”
Witherspoon’s indelible performance in Election had put her at risk of being typecast. “[MGM] thought I was a shrew,” she says with a healthy smirk. And they weren’t the only ones. At another studio, Witherspoon almost landed several gigs only to be passed over when the decision reached the top office. “My manager finally called and said, ‘You’ve got to go meet with the studio head because he will not approve you. He thinks you really are your character from Election and that you’re repellent.’ And then I was told to dress sexy.”
It’s exciting to see Reese going so hard at developing both her own material, and projects for other people (she brought us Gone Girl, after all, and Octavia Spencer’s new Truth Be Told show — which, remember when Octavia was attached to a Murder, She Wrote, reboot? It died, and I wonder if this, about a true-crime podcaster solving a mystery, grew out of its ashes). In the piece, she talks about how she doesn’t just want to stand around and “admire problems,” but rather dive in and figure out how to fix them. People with resources can absolutely be lulled into resting on their laurels, but not her, and I appreciate that.
Ronan Farrow was also honored for his reporting — I forgot to get a photo of him; he looks, as you might imagine, exactly like Ronan Farrow — and said:
“As I stand before the Women in Entertainment Gala, let’s face it: I don’t belong on this stage for a pretty obvious reason. I’m not in entertainment,” he said, to laughs in the room. “In all seriousness, any award I’ve gotten, it’s because of brave women who were sources in my reporting.”
Farrow then named some of the many sources in his #MeToo stories: Ally Canosa, Ambra Gutierrez, Annabella Sciorra, Brooke Nevils, Christine Peters, Daryl Hannah, Deborah Green, Deborah Morris, Debra Williams, Debra Kitay, Dinah Kirgo, Emma de Caunes, Emily Nestor, Habiba Nosheen, Illeana Douglas, Jane Wallace, Janet Jones, Jennifer Laird, Jessica Barth, Jessica Pallingston, Karen McDougal, Katrina Wolfe, Linda Silverthorn, Lucia Evans, Maxine Page, Michelle Barrish, Mira Sorvino, Mo Cashin, Phyllis Golden-Gottlieb, Rosanna Arquette, Rose McGowan, Rowena Chiu, Sophie Dix, Sarah Johansen, Sophie Gayter, Tanya Selveratnam and Zelda Perkins.
The journalist concluded his speech by taking a step back to the women in the room at the gala. “Thank you for this award. I’ll leave it there. As a man on this stage I’m well aware of the importance of shutting up and listening,” he said.
There’s a larger piece about him here.