Almost two years after her powerful speech at Glamour's 2015 Women of the Year gala, Reese Witherspoon is continuing her mission to encourage women to embrace their ambition—this time with a handy piece of relationship advice.
In a new essay to accompany her cover shoot for the October 2017 issue of Glamour, Witherspoon shares her own journey of learning to trust her instincts and do everything in her power to get more women both in front of and behind the camera, and she also explains what a healthy, mutually beneficial relationship looks like. She describes her own marriage, to talent agent Jim Toth, whom she wed in an intimate Ojai, California, ceremony in 2011, writing: "Anytime I feel defeated, my husband says, 'Come over here, you're the best! You're going to do this movie, and you're going to be great!' He gives me pep talks with a lot of sports metaphors that I don't always understand. He says, 'Did [golfer] Jordan Spieth quit after he imploded on the final round at Augusta?' I'm like, 'Ummm…I don't know, did he?' And then he says, 'No. When you're great, you don't give up. And he went on to win the British Open this year.' Then I understand! He took that experience and turned it into success. You gotta love my sports-loving husband."
If your own partner isn't quite as supportive as Toth, the Big Little Lies star has some simple, straightforward advice: "Run away from a man who can’t handle your ambition. Run. So many men think ambition is awesome and sexy!"
Witherspoon, 41, adds that she's also taught her two oldest children, 17-year-old Ava and 13-year-old Deacon, to embrace female ambition. "It means a lot to me to have two kids who support my ambition to change perceptions of women. As moms, we have a unique opportunity to keep changing this attitude that ambition is an ugly quality in women. That it makes you unlikable. What is likable, anyway? I'm allergic to that word." She continued, "We have to do our part to change the idea that a woman with passion and ambition is out only for herself. So talk to your kids about ambition as a positive trait in men and women."
And although Witherspoon admits that her own ambition sometimes leaves her "exhausted," she has no intention of slowing down anytime soon. "I started a production company five years ago to create more roles for women onscreen and behind the scenes. Today I have something like 23 projects in the works driven by great female characters of different ages and races," she writes. "I think it's worth noting, I self-funded my production company for years. I think there's this fallacy that because I've been an actor, people are going to hand me stuff. Nobody hands me anything. I'll wake up earlier; I'll stay up later. I will put my money where my mouth is. I have to read faster, and I respond quicker than other producers. I have to call and call and call executives until they say yes to my projects." The Oscar winner adds, "All we can do to create change is work hard. That's my advice: Just do what you do well."