Reese Witherspoon has grown a lot over the years, as the actress just revealed that she did not even know what homosexuality was before she moved to Los Angeles. The actress appeared on Variety's show Actors on Actors — where stars interview each other at the same time — with Regina King this week. There, she admitted just how out of the loop she was before moving to Hollywood.
"No one spoke to me about sexuality when I was a teenager," Witherspoon said. "I didn't understand what homosexuality was. My grandparents didn't explain it; my parents didn't explain it. I had to learn from somebody I met on an audition in Los Angeles." Reaching back in her memory, Witherspoon said she had one conversation about homosexuality with her grandmother, likely after she had moved to L.A. "Homosexuality is very rare, Reese. That's not a thing that happens very often," she remembered her grandmother saying.
Witherspoon said that she had recently been revisiting those formative times in preparation for her new show Little Fires Everywhere on Hulu. The series is set in the 1990s, and Witherspoon said it took some work to wrap her mind around how much the world has changed since then.
"What did my mom say about sexuality, race, class?" she tried to recall while getting into her character's head. "What were the things that I was told that maybe were true or not true? How was I insensitive?"
Witherspoon was born in the 1970s in New Orleans, Louisiana, to parents from Georgia and Tennessee. In a 2006 interview with the BBC, she described her childhood as "the definitive Southern upbringing." She spent most of her childhood in Nashville, Tennessee.
Witherspoon dropped out of college and moved to Los Angeles to pursue her acting career in 1991. She found quick success and soon went on to become one of the biggest celebrities of her time. Over the years, she has evolved into an outspoken advocate for women's issues, race and especially for literacy and education.
Witherspoon's free-ranging conversation with King has made an impression on social media, where several quotes have stood out — including Witherspoon's admission about homosexuality. The two have both been praised for their insight in both questions and answers.
While Witherspoon is promoting the recently released Little Fires Everywhere, King is promoting the recently released Watchmen on HBO. The show premiered in December, tackling issues of systemic racism through a fantasy lens. Given today's current events, the series is back in the public discourse already.