How Reese Witherspoon Has Become The World's Richest Actress

Hello Sunshine Productions, her production company, is valued at approximately $900 million. WireImageReese Witherspoon's gamble on herself and women-led stories has paid off: Forbes estimates that the actress now stands at $400 million. This is following Monday morning's news that Hello Sunshine, a Blackstone-backed media firm, purchased a majority stake.The deal values Hello Sunshine, a 2016-founded company that tells women-driven stories at $900million. Its track record of success, including hits like Big Little Lies and The Morning Show, as well as a promising pipeline for adaptations of popular books, has helped it to be valued at $900 million. Former Disney executives Tom Staggs and Kevin Mayer bought out Hello Sunshine investors, including AT&T, Laurene Powell Jobs Emerson Collective and a portion of Witherspoons.Witherspoon will keep at least 18% of the company's ownership and will receive an estimated $120million after taxes from the sale of approximately half of her 40% pre-existing stake. Her (after-tax) earnings over her 30-year-long, successful career as an actress and producer will be the rest of her fortune. Witherspoon, one of Hollywood's most successful stars, can earn astronomical salaries. According to industry insiders, she earns at most $1 million per episode for her television work. She is paid $1.2 million per episode for producing and staring in Apple TV+'s The Morning Show. Film roles are worth millions more. Her work in commercials for companies such as Crate and Barrel has made her a well-known endorser.Before the #MeToo movement, which has many calls for gender equality in show business and other widespread calls for it, Witherspoon was unhappy with the roles she was offered and the lack of female-led stories in Hollywood. She founded Pacific Standard in 2012, which produced Gone Girl and Wild. Her production efforts evolved into Hello Sunshine in 2016. There are a variety of projects underway at the company, including From Scratch, which stars Zoe Saldana and The Last Thing He Told me, which stars Julia Roberts. Hello Sunshine is adapting the bestseller Where the Crawdads sing.Witherspoon expanded her media empire to include Reeses Book Club. This is a natural decision considering that many of her projects are adaptations from female-penned books. It has over 2.1 million members and 42 of its 50 picks have been on the New York Times Best Sellers List, meaning that future television and film versions will have an audience.Witherspoon stated in a statement that she started the company to change how women are seen in media.Hello Sunshine will be the foundation of the new media company Mayer and Staggs created. Both have been actively searching for assets. The executives saw an opportunity to capitalize on Hollywood's almost insatiable demand of recognizable entertainment franchises, and projects that featured top talent, with the advent of streaming.Amazon's $8.45B bid to buy MGM, the home of James Bond, Robocop, and Rambo, was fueled by this desire for marquee entertainment brands that stand out in a cluttered streaming environment. Other notable transactions include Universal Pictures' $400 million deal to create a new trilogy based on Exorcist horror.Mayer and Staggs recognized an opportunity in Hello Sunshine by Witherspoons, whose major stakeholder is AT&T. They are looking to exit the entertainment industry. In May, the telecommunications giant announced its plans to merge WarnerMedia with Discovery. This follows its sale of DirecTV in a private equity deal.AT&T saw a transaction that could allow them to exit quickly, and Witherspoon was interested if the deal would generate cash to support Hello Sunshine's growth. Over the summer, an agreement was reached quickly.Staggs and Mayer said that Hello Sunshine was a great fit for their vision of a next-generation entertainment, technology, and content company. We aim to empower creators with capital, innovation, and scale to entertain, inspire, and delight global audiences.Witherspoon and Hello Sunshine CEO Sarah Harden will be joining the board of the new media company. They will continue to manage the day-to-day operations.