Reese Witherspoon is reflecting on a public moment from her past that had apparently slipped her mind.
The actress was a recent guest on podcast The HFPA in Conversation, where host and journalist Margaret Gardiner asked about a moment from the 2002 Oscars telecast. During that ceremony, Reese was presenting an award with then-husband Ryan Phillippe, who quipped that Reese should speak before him because, as he put it, "You make more money than I do."
As the 44-year-old Legally Blonde star recalled, the line was not planned ahead of time and caught her off-guard.
"You're reminding me of that!" she replied on the podcast. "I forgot that ever happened. But you're right, he did say that, and no, it wasn't scripted, and he didn't tell me he was going to say that before it happened on air. So I was a little bit flummoxed in the moment, too."
The Big Little Lies star, who announced her split from Ryan in 2006, admitted that she still doesn't know what led him to say that. But she said she does believe that women face increased pressure when they achieve financial success.
"There's so few women that make a lot of money that sometimes they're shamed for it, and sometimes they are expected to give more and do more and be more to others in the same position that, say, a male movie star would not be expected to," the Oscar winner for 2005's Walk the Line continued. "But I do think gender norms have changed quite a bit since that moment in 2000 or something."
While stressing the importance of feeling proud of one's financial independence, Reese recalled a moment when now-21-year-old daughter Ava came home from second grade in tears. Ava's classmates had told her that her mom is "one of the highest-paid actress in Hollywood," leading the young girl to feel "so embarrassed."
Reese shared, "I said, 'Don't ever feel ashamed of a woman making money. There are women all over this world who don't have an opportunity or an education or the ability to make money. And the more women who make more money, will give more money away, will take care of their societies, will take care of their communities, will do more with that money. So don't ever feel bad about your mom making money, and don't ever feel bad if you make money, and don't be embarrassed or ashamed if its more than your partner.'"
The actress, who has become a prolific Hollywood producer, concluded by saying that she has "an interesting relationship with the word 'power,' and all I can think of is I just hope in my lifetime, I can help more women make more money. Financial stability is freedom."
This is not the first time that Reese has spoken out about the importance of shifting how society talks about pay inequity. In a December 2019 interview with The Hollywood Reporter, she said she was confused as to why it seemed "bothersome" to some people that she earned a reported $2 million per episode to star in Apple TV+'s The Morning Show.