These days, Reese Witherspoon is something of a Hollywood renaissance woman: a star actress, producer, entrepreneur, author, and mother. But juggling all those roles wasn’t always a breeze for the 44-year-old Oscar winner, who opened up about how scary it was to become a mother in her early twenties.
On Tuesday’s episode of The Drew Barrymore Show, the talk show host said that she was “amazed” by Witherspoon, who welcomed her first child, Ava, in 1999.
“I was so amazed by you being this young mother who was able to take all that on,” Barrymore gushed. “How did you balance work and motherhood at that point? Because I was just trying to balance work. How did you both?”
Witherspoon responded, “To be completely candid, I was terrified. I got pregnant when I was 22 years old and I didn’t know how to balance work and motherhood. You just do it, you know?”
The Big Little Lies actress explained that, at that point in her career, she was just beginning to get noticed for star-making roles in movies like Election and Cruel Intentions. As such, she had to work even harder to juggle being a mom and a working actress.
“I didn’t know if I was going to have steady work,” Witherspoon admitted. “I hadn’t established myself as someone who could demand that [a project] shoot close to my kids’ school. I didn’t have any real power or leverage within my industry, so I was just like every other mom trying to figure it out.
“There’s a lot of compromise,” she continued. “You take the food out of your mouth, the clothes off your back, the sleep out of your life. But every bit of that sacrifice is truly worth it because that’s what makes me wake up on a Sunday. It’s not movies or my job. It’s my kids.”
The sacrifice seems to have paid off. Along with raising 21-year-old daughter Ava, 16-year-old son Deacon, and four-year-old son Tennessee, Witherspoon runs her own media business, Hello Sunshine, and has most recently starred in the critically adored TV series The Morning Show and Little Fires Everywhere. The balancing act has clearly worked in her favor.