Forbes names Reese Witherspoon world’s richest self-made actress with staggering net worth

Prolific actor and producer came in 59th place in overall list of richest ‘self-made’ women

Inga Parkel
Thursday 01 June 2023 17:48 BST
Trough The Years : Reese Witherspoon

Reese Witherspoon has been named the wealthiest self-made female actor in the world by Forbes.

On Thursday (1 June), the business publication released its updated 2023 list of “America’s Richest Self-Made Women”, with the prolific actor and producer coming in 59th place.

While the Legally Blonde star’s staggering net worth of $440m (£351.3m) only landed her in the lower half of the 100-person list, the actor was the only one grouped into the “entertainment” category.

Among the other women listed were TV screenwriter Shonda Rhimes, comedian Ellen DeGeneres, and singers Taylor Swift, Rihanna, and Madonna, among others. While all four of the latter have acted in films before, their primary profession has not been acting.

The rest of the list – topped by businesswoman Diane Hendricks with a net worth of $15bn (£11.9bn) – included women in fashion, healthcare, tech and more.

Witherspoon, 47, is best known for leading a number of critically acclaimed films throughout her varied, decades-long career, such as The Man in the Moon (1991), Pleasantville (1998), Election (1999),and Wild (2014).

She’s also among the highest-paid female actors in the industry, having earned a whopping $35m (£28m) in 2023, according to Women in the World’s website.

Reese Witherspoon

Although her acting salary is certainly hefty, what put her net worth over the top was the 2021 sale of her production company Hello Sunshine in a deal valued at $900m (£728.9m).

The actor founded Hello Sunshine in 2016 with the intention of telling women-driven stories to “change the way all women are seen in media”. Some of its top hits include TV shows like Big Little Lies, Little Fires Everywhere and The Morning Show. She has starred in all three.

Witherspoon still owns 18 per cent of the company’s shares.

Her source of overall wealth is labelled “self-made” through entertainment, and she received a score of eight. The publication gives this number to those identified as coming “from a middle-class or upper-middle-class background”.

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It defines self-made as “someone who built a company or established a fortune on her own, rather than inheriting some or all of it. As long as the list member didn’t inherit a business or money, she is labelled self-made.”

In order to calculate a person’s net worth, Forbes staff complete extensive research into Securities and Exchange Commission documents, court filings, probate records and news articles, as well as interviewing employees, handlers and asset managers.

Net worth doesn’t just encompass the money in a person’s bank account; it also takes into account other assets, such as stakes in public and private companies, real estate, art, yachts, planes, ranches, vineyards, jewellery, car collections and more.

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