Move over, Bezos and Musk: There’s a new billionaire on your tail! Reese Witherspoon just merged her media company, Hello Sunshine, with a new private equity firm headed by Disney executives. Reports state the deal was worth somewhere in between $900 million and $1.2 billion.
The 45-year-old is now worth an estimated $500 million. That’s more than double the $240 million net worth that was attributed to her on Forbes just 24 hours ago. Add that to her Academy Award, two Golden Globe Awards, and Primetime Emmy Award, and you have one of the most impressive actresses and businesswomen of our time.
Reese Witherspoon’s Rise As an Entrepreneur
Reese Witherspoon was on top of the world as a performer after her film hits like Election, Legally Blonde, and Walk the Line. However, her career slumped in the mid-2000s after she starred in a string of less commercially successful films, including Monsters vs. Aliens, Mud, and Sing.
Witherspoon said in the 2018 film This Changes Everything that despite her early success, she began to have an extremely hard time finding roles as a woman in Hollywood over the age of 30. In 2016, she formed a new production firm called Hello Sunshine that focuses on telling female-centric stories through film and television.
It was through Hello Sunshine that Reese was able to produce her 2014 comeback hit, Wild, which was based on the novel by Cheryl Strayed. Since then, her career has once again been on the rise. She went on to produce even more hits focused on women’s stories, including the award-winning TV shows Big Little Lies and Little Fires Everywhere.
One of Hello Sunshine’s major investors is Steve Jobs’ widow, Laurene Powell Jobs. Her company, Emerson Collective, made a significant investment in Hello Sunshine in February of 2019.
Hello Sunshine now has at least six television series in development across almost every network. Reports say that Reese’s company is producing shows for Netflix, Apple TV+, Hulu, ABC, Starz, and Amazon Prime Video. Reese herself will serve as an executive producer on each one, and she will play a lead role in at least one of them.
The Billion-Dollar Deal
Today, the news is that Reese sold a portion of Hello Sunshine to a new equity firm led by Disney executives Tom Staggs and Kevin A. Mayer. The new firm is reportedly backed by The Blackstone Group, which is an alternative investment management company with about $26.3 billion in total assets.
Hello Sunshine will no longer be a standalone company but part of a joint venture with this new Blackstone-backed group. Reese Witherspoon will join the board of the new company, and she will retain a significant piece of equity as well.
“What a tremendous day!” Reese wrote on Twitter on August 2. “I am deeply proud of the @hellosunshine team that got us to this incredible moment, and I’m thrilled to be working with @blackstone, Kevin, and Tom to grow a next generation media company.”