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Reese Witherspoon’s Book Club Kicks Off Writers’ Fellowship for Underrepresented, Unpublished Women

by Melody Heald

Reese Witherspoon’s book club LitUp will be taking applications for an all-expense paid fellowship program for underrepresented, unpublished women.

The Legally Blonde and HBO hit-series Big Little Lies actress is on a mission to have all voices heard. Five chosen candidates will embark on a three-month mentorship with a published author to help them learn about book marketing, to connect them with top agents, and to get their books ready for the market. The program is powered by The Readership, a pay-it-forward platform focused on getting more people reading and bringing underrepresented voices to the forefront, Variety reported. 

Witherspoon and her partner media company, Hello Sunshine, launched the book club in 2017. The idea originated from Instagram, where she would post her favorite books. “I started a production company seven or eight years ago that was trying to create more projects that had roles for women in them,” she explained to Harper’s Bazaar in 2019. “I’ve always really gravitated towards female authors and women at the center of novels, so I started optioning some of them and turning them into movies. Then, I just started sharing all the books that I read, ’cause I read a lot.”

Each month, Witherspoon selects New York Times best-selling female-centered books. Women come together to discuss the month’s book choice via Reese’s Book Club app. Her love for books and reading are a big driving force behind LitUp’s fellowship program. She knows how difficult it can be to get published, especially for women of marginalized backgrounds and identities, which is why she and her book club decided to create this opportunity.

“As our community and reach continues to grow, we have all collectively sought out innovative ways to create real change and leave an indelible mark on the greater reading community,” The Hollywood Reporter wrote. “We know there are so many powerful stories from undiscovered voices, and now, more than ever, we need to hear them. We are so thrilled that LitUp will serve as a launching pad for a new generation of authors and will provide them with the necessary tools and resources to forge formidable careers as storytellers.”

All candidates for the fellowship must identify as women and must be from a diverse or marginalized background: LGBTQIA+, a person with disabilities, BIPOC, or a person from an ethnic or religious minority. The manuscript must be original and completed, with the main character being female, and it must fall under either adult or young adult fiction. Submissions are open until May 30. 

Photo: Eva Rinaldi / CC BY-SA 2.0 edited (Witherspoon)
Tristan White / Scopio (books)

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