Laura Jeanne Reese Witherspoon (born March 22, 1976) is an American actress. The recipient of various accolades, including an Academy Award, a British Academy Film Award, a Primetime Emmy Award, and two Golden Globe Awards, she has consistently ranked among the world's highest-paid actresses. Time magazine named her one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2006 and 2015, and Forbes listed her among the World's 100 Most Powerful Women in 2019 and 2021. In 2021, Forbes named her the world's richest actress with an estimated net worth of $400 million.
Witherspoon began her career as a teenager, making her screen debut in The Man in the Moon (1991). Her breakthrough came in 1999 with a supporting role in Cruel Intentions, and for her portrayal of Tracy Flick in the black comedy Election. She gained wider recognition for playing Elle Woods in the comedy Legally Blonde (2001) and its 2003 sequel, and for starring in the romantic comedy Sweet Home Alabama (2002). In 2005, she gained critical acclaim and won the Academy Award for Best Actress for portraying June Carter Cash in the musical biopic Walk the Line.
Following a career downturn, during which her sole box-office success was the romantic drama Water for Elephants (2011), Witherspoon made a comeback by producing and starring as Cheryl Strayed in the drama Wild (2014), which earned her a second nomination for Best Actress at the Academy Awards. She has since worked primarily in television, producing and starring in several female-led literary adaptations under her company Hello Sunshine. These include the HBO drama series Big Little Lies (2017–2019), the Apple TV+ drama series The Morning Show (2019–present), and the Hulu miniseries Little Fires Everywhere (2020). For the first of these, she won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Limited Series.
Witherspoon also owns a clothing company, Draper James, and she is involved in children's and women's advocacy organizations. She serves on the board of the Children's Defense Fund (CDF) and was named Global Ambassador of Avon Products in 2007, serving as honorary chair of the charitable Avon Foundation dedicated to women's causes.