Ava Phillippe on Finding Her Own Way Outside of Mom Reese Witherspoon and Dad Ryan Phillippe's Spotlight

In an exclusive interview with E!'s Daily Pop, Ava Phillippe talks about working with makeup legend Pat McGrath, parents Reese Witherspoon and Ryan Phillippe's best advice and much more.

By Natalie Finn Dec 21, 2021 5:00 PMTags

Ava Phillippe has heard a few times that she resembles her mother, thank you.

Asked what sort of beauty tips she's received from Reese Witherspoon, whose closet she does enjoy browsing for clothes, shoes and jewelry, Ava told Francesca Amiker in an exclusive interview for E!'s Daily Pop, which aired Dec. 21, that perhaps the most "special piece of advice" passed down from her look-alike mom is "pretty is as pretty does."

Meaning, the 22-year-old explained, "As pretty as you ever look on the outside, you're only as pretty as you are on the inside and the way that you treat other people—and if that's not a beauty tip, I don't know what is."

But genetic blessings as the child of Witherspoon and Ryan Phillippe aside, Ava has been stepping into the spotlight on her own terms, taking on the occasional modeling job while attending UC Berkeley and building a nearly million-strong social media following with a carefully considered offering of selfies, positive messages and peeks behind the curtain at her fashionable world with friends, family and her beloved border collie rescue Benji along for the ride.

And now her famous heart-shaped face can be seen in her first-ever beauty campaign, for Pat McGrath Labs x Bridgerton, a new limited-edition collection that goes on sale Dec. 26.

Photographic Evidence Reese Witherspoon and Ava Phillippe Are Actually Twins

It all started when Pat McGrath reached out directly to Ava on Instagram to ask if she'd like to work together, rendering the self-professed huge fan of the visionary makeup artist momentarily speechless (and assuming it was just PR reaching out about sending her some samples).

"This is someone I idolize as a creative and who I really, really deeply admire and respect," Ava . "And for her to reach out to me, of all people, and to think of me and be so generous in that process was just something else, so special."

And coming right after she starred in a campaign for Beyoncé's new adidas x Ivy Park collection with her 18-year-old brother Deacon Phillippe (whom she calls "a lovely, lovely human being and an even better brother")...


Let's just say, she's having quite the jolly holiday season.

"If I could put it in a word, and it still wouldn't sum it up, it's mind-blowing," Ava, her eyes made up with shades from the new collection and her pink-hued hair topped with a tiara in keeping with the Bridgerton vibe, said of her latest opportunities. "It's incredible to be able to watch both of these woman just succeed and feel so empowered and creative in their industries."

Not that she's had to look far for inspiration when it comes to a strong woman dominating her industry financially and creatively, Ava calling Reese her "best friend, role model, cheerleader, confidante, and so much more" in a Mother's Day post this year.

Ava Phillippe's College Dorm Picks

Ava is also committed to kindness on social media, where it's impossible to please everyone and seemingly just as hard to maintain a positive outlook. She admits that she puts a lot of thought into all of her posts, asking herself, "What is that going to mean to somebody else, what does it mean to me? Is this helpful? Is it important? Is it charitable? Is it something I want the world to see from me?"

"I do have a platform of some sort, for sure," she continued, "and I want to be conscious of what I am posting. I might not always get it right but I'm always going to try my best to put good out there."

Her photos tend toward the cheery and engaging, whether they're of nature, pup Benji or a glam red lip in a kitchen selfie, and even just a note telling her followers, "I hope all of you are doing as well as possible," will attract an outpouring of thanks for its simple poignancy. But she hasn't shied away from sharing her opinions about issues that matter to her, either, such as her support for DACA recipients, stopping police violence and ending racial inequity, and she links out to a slew of mental health services.

Asked by Francesca what gave her "the audacity" to speak her mind online, Ava replied with a smile, "The audacity—I have quite a bit of it, I guess."  

She'll share something, she says, if "it feels like a human experience and it feels right. That gut feeling of, someone might need to hear this. It makes me feel good, in more ways than one, to be able to share and be real with people on social media as much as is possible. We do see a lot of the falsified sides [of people] or the facades, and it's just not completely true of everyone, and I think a little truth is good sometimes."

Stars & Their Mini-Me Kids

A part of her life she does keep primarily away from the public eye is her relationship with boyfriend of two years Owen Mahoney, whom she met at Berkeley and has shared the occasional photo of when the mood strikes. ("These two," Reese commented on a June 21 post of the couple, not missing the rare chance to weigh in with a heart-eyes emoji.)

But while she didn't want to delve into her love life, Ava did tell Daily Pop that "a sense of empathy" is something that all those who are closest to her seem to share.

"People that are able to be that honest and tap into that empathy in such a real way, there's nothing like it to me," she explained. "My friends, I think they all have their own ways of doing it, I love that about them. And in my romantic life it's also important, for sure."


She figures it translates through what she shares online, but when asked if there was something her fans might not know about her, Ava emphasized, "I really value my connections with others and it's, like, really, extremely important—almost to a detriment—but I really care about the feelings of others, and it really matters to me that I can make somebody happy."

Ava also credits her parents and stepdad Jim Toth, whom Reese married in 2011, with surreptitiously providing her with advice on a daily basis. "It's just seeping into my life whether I know it or not, I think," she shared. And what they've taught her "grows and evolves in ways that just continue to serve me."

But if she had to single out one significant life lesson that's been passed onto her, it's still the golden rule about doing unto others. "Treat people with kindness and do the best you can and understand that [you having] problems doesn't mean anybody else doesn't have problems, it doesn't mean they're bigger or smaller, they're not to be compared." She added, "We've all got stuff we're dealing with and to be humble and gracious about that is just so important."

Hollywood Kids That Are Upstaging Their Famous Parents

Though Reese and Ryan have been in the public eye since the mid-1990s and spent a decade as an It-Couple after starring in Cruel Intentions together, modern fame is a whole other kind of animal. So when it comes to helping their daughter navigate the wilds of being a famous child-of-celebrities, "I think my parents are honestly learning all the time what the right way to do it is," Ava observed. "I will say, they really do their best to guide me just day-to-day…If they think there's a problem that's going to arise, they're there to coach me through it—whether I like it or not—but in the end it's always really supportive and helpful energy, and I'm grateful to have somebody else who understands that."

Instagram / Ava Phillippe

What her parents are not doing is pushing her in one direction or another as far as her career is concerned.

"My parents have always encouraged me to choose the path that's right for me and, you know, guide me along the way to make better choices than I might make," she explained. "I'm so grateful for that. That is such a privilege to have parents that support you in that way and to want you to be who you truly are meant to be. So I think I'm trying to do that."

And while working with Pat McGrath was a dream come true ("With makeup as her medium, she has created some of the most beautiful art I have ever seen"), Ava isn't sure what she wants to do next. She hasn't ruled out venturing into acting one day—"I don't see it out of the question, certainly"—but she isn't putting all of her eggs in any one basket.

"I'm not so sure on where I'm going yet," she explained, miming a winding road with her hands. "That's kind of what I'm trying to figure out in this stage of my life, what's the right fit for me and what's going to do the best for others within that context, and what can I be most impactful with."

At school, she's really learned "not to take everything personally, especially socially," she said. "We can get wrapped up in our heads that everything is about us in some way or another, in hurtful ways, in helpful ways and everything in between. But I really think the lesson I'm learning is, let people be who they are and do your best with what you know."

Her next job is in all likelihood just around the corner, but in the meantime, "I'm exploring," she said, "and that's so awesome. I'm so lucky to be able to do that and to find things that work for me. I can't wait to see what's next."

The Pat McGrath Labs x Bridgerton collection is on sale Sunday, Dec. 26.