For Reese Witherspoon, selling her media company Hello Sunshine was just the next step in bringing more female-led film and television projects to the masses.
The actress, who founded the company in 2016, told CNBC’s Julia Boorstin on “Tech Check” Tuesday that this cash infusion will help the fledgling entertainment group grow exponentially.
“We’re just doubling down on our mission,” Witherspoon said. “Now we’re going to have the ability to tell more stories, to hire more female filmmakers, to promote and lift up even more authors.”
Hello Sunshine courted a number of offers, including one from Apple. A majority stake is being bought by a venture that includes Blackstone Group and is led by former Disney executives Kevin Mayer and Tom Staggs. A person familiar with the deal said it was valued at about $900 million.
“When we started the company 4½ years ago, we set out with a very specific intention of how we wanted to build,” said CEO Sarah Harden. “We took a step back and said ‘how do we set ourselves up for the next five to 10 years of growth?'”
Witherspoon and Harden will continue to oversee Hello Sunshine’s day-to-day operations and will join the yet-to-be-named company’s board.
With so many streaming options in the market, there is pent-up demand for content. Backed by Blackstone, Hello Sunshine will be able to produce more shows and films, making it attractive to these platforms. Not to mention, it has a solid track record of Emmy nominations.
The company has been able to key into what its audiences want through social media, Witherspoon said. The actress actively engages with this community, particularly those that are part of Reese’s Book Club. Witherspoon, an avid reader, has optioned a number of books for television series.
“We didn’t have these kind of opportunities seven years ago,” she said. “I was making movies in a vacuum. I never really knew who was seeing them, what their feelings were. Now, I have this really great one-on-one relationship with people all over social media. … We can really figure out and tease out exactly what audiences want to see.”
In addition to a scripted studio, Hello Sunshine also produces unscripted shows and began a kids animation division 18 months ago.
“I’m really excited to extend our mission into animation so that we can reach more young women with this idea that women can be the heroes of their own story and do that authentically with real female creators,” Witherspoon said.
Disclosure: Comcast owns a stake in Hulu and is the parent of NBCUniversal and CNBC.