Reese Witherspoon emphasized that she and her production company Hello Sunshine go after women’s stories on purpose at Hello Sunshine’s very first Shine Away event, a conference between the different brands under Hello Sunshine as well as authors of previous book selections for Reese’s Book Club.
In a panel with actress and writer Mindy Kaling and actress Jennifer Garner, who starred in the Hello Sunshine television adaptation of Laura Dave’s novel “The Last Thing He Told Me” on Apple TV+, the three women each recounted how Hollywood has changed since they began their careers. One of the commen threads between them involved the themes of women’s voices.
“Women’s stories are good business. There’s a movie that happened this summer with a pink costume that I wasn’t in, but that movie made over a billion dollars globally,” Witherspoon said.
The actress’ dancing around the mention of “Barbie” by name reflected the other swerves both Garner and Kaling had to make among with other projects in light of the actors strike, which forbids Screen Actors Guild members from promoting struck work, even if it involves past projects.
“People are starving for it. There is an incredible singer named Taylor Swift who’s gonna have the highest grossing musical tour of all time — I think it’s like $3 billion. We are starving for our stories to be told. None of that is possible without everybody who shows up and watches the movies and goes to the concerts and dresses in the costumes and tells their children. You are part of the change that we’re seeing in this world.”
Witherspoon remarked earlier in the panel that the types of stories she and her team tell don’t fall into the same categories of serious, dark or horror, and she’s okay with that.
“I was always obsessed with comedy and things that were real life and optimistic and I think ‘That’s the kind of stuff I want to put in the world.’ I came to this realization and I’m sure you guys are like this shocking — I’m not meant to be doing dark, heavy, intense, heightened, horror, darkness movies,” Witherspoon admitted. “People like to see me do light movies. It doesn’t put you in the cool kid club a lot. I don’t care. I really don’t. I want to make optimistic stuff that makes girls excited to be women in this world because it is a wonderful thing to be a woman in this world.”
Hello Sunshine’s Shine Away event also contained an exclusive announcement for those who follow Reese’s Book Club — the title of the November pick, more than ten days early.
“Maybe Next Time” by Cesca Major has already been optioned by Hello Sunshine for a movie adaptation with Apple TV+, announced in March of this year.
“It’s a book that goes back in time. It’s almost like Groundhog’s Day, but for this woman who has made all these decisions in her life, and she prioritizes work and she has been ignoring a lot of the really key fundamental relationships in her life,” Witherspoon summarized. “The ending of this book is so beautiful. I was sobbing when I read it in a good way. It makes you remember what’s really important about family and your partnerships.”
Author Cesca Major flew from London to give a brief summary of her novel, which plays on the themes of time twisting and reversible decisions. Major described the novel as part romance, part mystery, with a big twist that she did not delve into.
“It’s about a very, very stressed woman who is a working mother. She has a full time job as a London literary agent. She has a partner and she has two kids. She has colleagues. She has a sister-in-law. She has friends. She has people on Facebook and Whatsapp pinging her about things,” Major said. “We meet her on a normal Monday, where we see all the stresses that so many women in this room understand where you’re just running around putting out fires, your phone is pinging,”“And you’re always feeling like you’re not quite there and getting to it.
“Her husband’s in a really bad mood. And she’s like, ‘Why is he so grumpy?’ She hasn’t got time to think about it. That night, she discovers that she’s managed to forget the date [of their] anniversary again. She’s forgotten to write the letter — they swap letters on their anniversary of the day they met,” Major continued. “This is the second year that she has forgotten the date and they have a big row and he storms out and catastrophe happens.”
The next day, the woman wakes up and it’s the same Monday over again, so she has a chance to do it over, and as Major puts it, “disover all the secrets going on and all the many people’s lives and whether she could change the course of that day and maybe even the course of her life.”