Reese Witherspoon turned her passion for reading and supporting female authors into a sustainable stream of opportunities with her book club and production house; here we explore how Hello Sunshine turned into a larger platform on the back of good social media and a great idea.
The Actress turned Producer, Reese Witherspoon has taken up the mantle of driving female-forward narratives that are true and new in essence through books, films, television, audio, along with the website, and newsletter, directed through Reese’s Book Club, and the production house, Hello Sunshine.
The common link or rather the sole purpose of both these enterprises is to advocate and support female authors and exhibit stories with women at the center of it. Turning a few pages back to the origins and unraveling the journey until now, we explore the origins of both these initiatives and grasp the social media play that supports these endeavors.
Reese’s Book Club
Reese’s Book Club simply started as Reese posting about books she likes on Instagram. Remarking on the founding phase of the club, in an interview with Harper’s BAZAAR she mentioned, “I just started sharing all the books I liked coz I read a lot, and I love the effect it has on the authors”.
She also mentioned that she has always gravitated towards female authors and women at the center of the novels. “So I started optioning some of them and turning them into movies”. Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens, a book recommended by the club sold over a million copies and is also being turned into a movie set to release mid-year.
Reese, the founder of the club chooses her favorite read and spotlights it as the ‘Book Of The Month’. The choices are not restrained by genre, kind, or any other factors apart from ‘a woman being at the center of the story’.
The social media community of the club is over 2 Mn strong on Instagram. Their streamlined properties exhibited in a structured and engaging manner have been efficient in nourishing engagement levels on the platforms.
Apart from ‘Book Of The Month’ the primary property of the club that is introduced by Reese and led by teaser posts, and contests, the club has also stretched into native formats such as ‘Book-Alike’ a recommendation based o a book a reader liked, Instagram Live sessions, Q&A with the authors, and Reese picking favorite quotes.
The club has partnered with Buick, a division of General Motors, an automobile manufacturer, and launched an in-vehicle app, so readers can access their favorite picks and podcasts on the go.
LAVAZZA, a coffee products manufacturer is also an official partner of the club, and the relationship between the reader, books, and coffee brews over collection hampers.
Hello Sunshine, the production house’s origins date back to a time when Reese was not getting the kind of roles she wanted. At this time, Jim Toth, her husband and talent agent suggested, “You read more than anyone I know, why don’t you turn some of these into movies”, Reese shared at the CBS Sunday Morning show.
The first book she turned into a movie was Cheryl Strayed’s memoir ‘Wild’. She produced it, acted in it, and earned herself an Academy Award nomination. Big Little Lies, her third production caught Hollywood’s eye and established Reese as a producer.
She has also co-produced the popular 2014 psychological thriller directed by David Fincher, Gone Girl, based on the book of the same name by Gillian Flynn. The book was both critically and commercially acclaimed.
Unlike the social channels of most production houses that primarily use the mediums for the promotion of their releases, the social media strategy into play for Hello Sunshine represents the core essence of the company which is defined as “An entertainment and media company that puts women at the center of every story”.
What began as a gap for good women-oriented roles, turned into a leading book club and a production house. Over the years Reese has managed to give a platform to many women authors, bringing to light great work across geographies, all the while turning it into a bigger empire that many can benefit from.