Reese Witherspoon talks southern culture and women empowerment at Magnolia book signing

NEW HORIZONS | Waco’s Church Under the Bridge is moving its weekly location to the Magnolia Silos. Baylor file photo

Bridget Sjoberg | Staff Writer

Hundreds of fans gathered at Magnolia Market on Thursday as actress Reese Witherspoon discussed her new book Whiskey in a Teacup, which contains a combination of recipes and stories from her childhood in Tennessee.

Witherspoon has been promoting Whiskey in a Teacup on a book tour for the past ten days, making stops everywhere from New York to Nashville. The book premiered at No. 1 on the New York Times Best Seller List.

At this stop, Witherspoon was interviewed by journalist and news personality Jenna Bush, who asked her about everything from her biggest female role models to what she admires most about Elle Woods, Witherspoon’s iconic character in the movie “Legally Blonde”.

Witherspoon said that Whiskey in a Teacup is a love letter to her grandparents and a dedication to her childhood growing up surrounded by southern culture.

“Whiskey in a Teacup is an analogy from my grandma,” Witherspoon said. “She believed that southern women are beautiful and ornamental on the outside but fiery on the inside.”

Witherspoon talked about how picking Magnolia Market as a stop on her book tour comes from her love of the hit TV show Fixer Upper. She said that she especially appreciates Magnolia Table’s key phrase “everyone deserves a seat at the table.”

“I absolutely love that as a mantra,” Witherspoon said. “It promotes inclusion – there’s so many good people that are the backbone of this country, and people need to be reminded of that.”

Witherspoon has starred in a variety of movies and television shows, but Bush noted how Witherspoon’s most known role to this day seems to still be Elle Woods.

“Legally Blonde taught me the power of movies. So many young women told me they went to law school because of Elle Woods,” Witherspoon said. “Elle has a message of positivity and feeling empowered – we all need to continue reaching out to be leaders to lead the next generation.”

Another highlight of the interview came from Witherspoon discussing her media brand Hello Sunshine, which helps promote women as the center of their own stories both in film and throughout life. She also discussed her book club, her talk show “Shine on with Reese”, filming “Big Little Lies” with Nicole Kidman, and a new fictional project with Jennifer Aniston based off of talk shows like Good Morning America and the Today Show.

Betsy Carts, a Waco native and attendee of the event, admires Witherspoon’s promotion of female empowerment through the projects she takes on.

“I love that she’s a strong voice for equal pay for women,” Carts said. “In my line of work, I just love that there’s no glass ceiling for women, and I hope more women can experience equality. I love how Reese also promotes that.”

Sarah Evans, who resides in Austin and was another attendee of the event, appreciates Witherspoon for her authenticity and how she’s stayed grounded through her involvement in the entertainment industry.

“I like that she stays centered around her family and is honest to her roots,” Evans said. “She hasn’t been steered away from that – she’s reinvented staying true to her southern culture and has made it cool again.”

Bush concluded her interview by asking rapid-fire fun questions, allowing the audience to learn that Witherspoon’s favorite holiday is Easter, her favorite southern city is Charleston, and her favorite movie she’s acted in is “Walk the Line.”

Ultimately, Witherspoon tied everything related to her career and her family back to her southern roots, and she sees her upbringing as something that will always play a significant part of her life.

“After all this time I still say ‘y’all’ – people told me to change my accent or I’d never find work in the industry, but ironically I’ve gotten the most work because of my accent,” Witherspoon said. “Southern traditions never leave you – they’re something formed and passed down through generations.”