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‘Ambition is not a dirty word’: Reese Witherspoon


Speaking at the Glamour’s 2015 Women of the Year Awards, actor Reese Witherspoon gave a moving speech, shredding stereotypes long associated with portrayal of women. “I’m so excited that so many young women are here tonight. This all started for me when I was a little girl. I was 14 years old when I learnt that I love acting, and I still do. Acting allows me to slip into the skin of all kinds of different women, and not in a creepy Silence of the Lambs way… But in a way that let’s me explore the full spectrum of humanity,” she said.

“Every woman I’ve ever played is passionate and strong and flawed, except for Tracy Flick. She’s 100 per cent perfect, but she made me say that. But I also learned at 14 years old that I was ambitious. Really ambitious. Did I say that out loud? Let’s talk about ambition,” she said.

She continued: “I want everybody to close their eyes and think of a dirty word, like a really dirty word. Now open your eyes. Was any of your words ambition? I didn’t think so. See, I just kind of started wondering lately why female ambition is a trait that people are so afraid of. Why do people have prejudiced opinions about women who accomplish things? Why is that perceived as a negative?” she asked aloud.

She continued saying she was almost always greeted with scripts which had no substantial role for women, prompting her to start her own production company. She concluded her speech with powerful words: “I urge each one of you to ask yourselves: What do we do now? That’s a big question. What is it in life that you think you can’t accomplish? Or what is it that people have said that you cannot do? Wouldn’t it feel really good to prove them all wrong? Because I believe ambition is not a dirty word. It’s just believing in yourself and your abilities. Imagine this: What would happen if we were all brave enough to be a little bit more ambitious? I think the world would change.”

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