(LOS ANGELES) — Reese Witherspoon has an empowering message for financially successful women — don’t be ashamed. 

While appearing on a recent episode of the The HFPA in Conversation podcast, the 44-year-old actress reflected on a comment her ex-husband Ryan Phillippe made when they attended the 2002 Oscars. During the awards ceremony Phillippe told his then-wife that she should speak first because “you make more money than I do.”

“I forgot that ever happened. But you’re right, he did say that, and no, it wasn’t scripted,” Witherspoon recalled. “He didn’t tell me he was going to say that before it happened on air. So I was a little bit flummoxed in the moment, too.”

“There’s so few women that make a lot of money that sometimes they’re shamed for it, and sometimes they are expected to give more and do more and be more to others in the same position that maybe a male movie star may not be expected,” she added. “But I do think gender norms have changed quite a bit since that moment in 2000 or something.” 

Elaborating on the topic the Little Fires Everywhere star recalled a moment when her daughter Ava, 21, was in second grade and came home “so embarrassed” after classmates brought up that her mother was one of the highest-paid actresses. 

“I said, ‘Don’t ever feel ashamed of a woman making money.’ There are women all over this world who don’t have an opportunity or an education or the ability to make money,” said Witherspoon, who is also mom to sons Deacon, 17, and Tennessee, 8. 

“[I have] an interesting relationship with the word power,” she continued. “I just hope in my lifetime, I can help more women make more money. Financial stability is freedom.”

By Danielle Long
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