As one of Hollywood's most successful actresses, Reese Witherspoon has proven that she can do far more than just pose winsomely for the camera. She first began acting when she was only seven, appearing in a TV commercial for a flower store run by a family friend. Following this, the budding actress had a part in a 1991 Lifetime cable movie, before making her film debut that same year in the coming-of-age story called The Man in the Moon. Then 2001 marked a significant turning point in Witherspoon's career. That was when she starred in the feature film Legally Blonde, a certified box office hit that grossed $96 million worldwide, making her a household name.

Later in 2005 Witherspoon garnered critical acclaim for her portrayal of June Carter Cash in the biographical musical film Walk the Line, which won her the Academy Award for Best Actress. As one of those rare actresses who have successfully struck a balance between commercial success and critical appreciation, Witherspoon is the recipient of various accolades, including two Golden Globe Awards and a Primetime Emmy Award, while maintaining her status as one of the highest-paid actresses in the world. Notably, Forbes listed her among the World's 100 Most Powerful Women in 2019.

In 1994, Witherspoon temporarily set aside her career to study English literature at Stanford University. Acting, at that point, was just a hobby while school was her real passion. "And I was really good at it," she said, looking back at her decision to enroll in Stanford. By high school, Witherspoon was a straight-A student who had earned the nickname Little Miss Type A (which would later become the name of her first production company) for her propensity to complain to her teachers when the coursework wasn't challenging enough. Witherspoon did not complete her studies in Palo Alto, however, as she was offered two parts in major upcoming films, causing her to drop out after only one year.

Nevertheless, Stanford apparently maintains an air of sentimentality for Witherspoon. In 2017, the world-famous actress stopped by her old stomping grounds to take part in the college's View From the Top speaker series, in which famous and well-respected members of the community share advice and lessons learned with the school's current students. Held at Stanford's business school, Witherspoon used the opportunity to inspire the students to not to shy away from a challenge, saying, "You’re the one responsible for your own path, so throw yourself at it."

While she was on campus, Witherspoon also took a trip down memory lane. The actress made a surprise visit to her old Stanford dorm room and even snapped a picture for her Instagram with the shocked current resident, a student named Caitlyn. The feelings of admiration appear to be reciprocated by Stanford, which announced in April 2021 that Witherspoon's performances would be featured in the school's upcoming "Stanford Under the Stars: Movie Nights at Frost,” a seven-week outdoor movie series that is centered on notable Stanford alumni.