Reese Witherspoon’s Daughter Ava Phillippe Responds To 'Hateful' Backlash Following Sexuality Comments

·4-min read
Photo credit: Gregg DeGuire - Getty Images
Photo credit: Gregg DeGuire - Getty Images

Article update on 17/1/22: Ava Phillippe has defended herself after reportedly receiving abuse online following a Q&A session with her Instagram followers, during which she addressed her sexuality.

During the video the 22-year-old said 'I'm attracted to… people!', before telling her fans 'gender is whatever'. The Daily Mail reports Reese Witherspoon's daughter has since been subjected to 'bigoted' and 'hateful' comments.

As a result, Phillippe has spoken out and reportedly wrote on her Instagram Story early this week: 'QUICK REMINDER: I can & will block profiles commenting bigoted/hateful messages under my posts.'

'My Instagram profile is not a place for cruelty/hate speech & I intend to do what I can to keep it that way. Peace & Love [sic].'

Article originally published on12/1/22

Reese Witherspoon's 22-year-old daughter Ava Phillippe is often talked about for her striking resemblance to her mother.

We're used to seeing the mother-daughter duo looking like twins on the red carpet, and watching in awe as the young woman experiments with a variety of hair colours.

On this occasion though, young Phillippe has hit headlines for something else. The University of California, Berkeley (UC, Berkeley) student addressed questions around her sexuality.

Phillippe, who's currently in a relationship with fellow UC Berkeley student Owen Mahoney, who she started dating in 2019, responded to questions from fans via an Instagram story, including one who asked: 'Do you like boys or girls?'

She replied: 'I'm attracted to… people!' and added: 'Gender is whatever,' reported the Daily Mail, appearing to profess her pansexuality.

Photo credit: John Phillips - Getty Images
Photo credit: John Phillips - Getty Images

This stands in contrast to some of the things that her mother, Big Little Lies star Witherspoon, has said about sexuality in the past, having confessed to being seriously in the dark about the sexual spectrum when she was a young woman.

In June 2020, the actor told Variety she didn't understand homosexuality until she was a teenager.

At the time, the 45-year-old actor said: 'No one spoke to me about sexuality when I was a teenager. 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.’

Referring to her character on the lauded 2020 miniseries Little Fires Everywhere, in which she plays 'picture-perfect' mother-of-four Elena Richardson who has a difficult relationship with one of her daughters, she went on to discuss how a conversation with her grandmother inspired part of the storyline.

'We incorporated some of the conversation I had with my grandmother afterward,' she explained.

'Homosexuality is very rare, Reese. That’s not a thing that happens very often,' she recalled her grandmother saying.

‘And we put it in the script. (My character) Elena says it because that’s what was said to me in Nashville, Tennessee, in 1994,' she continued.

Witherspoon's daughter Phillippe, who's the eldest of her siblings, Deacon, 18 and half-brother Tennessee James, eight, the latter of whom the Legally Blonde actor shares with current husband Jim Toth, shared a rare photo of her boyfriend Mahoney in June of last year, that mum Witherspoon sweetly commented on.

The post, that's since been deleted, was taken at the Congress Avenue Bridge in Austin, Texas, home to the largest urban bat colony.

It was accompanied by the caption: 'The bats were feeling shy…so here's a pic of us instead.'

Witherspoon commented: 'These two,' with a lovestruck emoji,' reported People.

At the time Phillippe started dating Mahoney in 2019, people pointed out his resemblance to her dad.

When she shared photos on Instagram, in another since-deleted post, one commenter wrote: 'Looks like you and your dad or a younger version of your parents!' while another echoed this remark when writing: 'Totally Reese and Ryan!'

Speaking of feelings about her daughter going to university in 2019, Witherspoon said on The Ellen DeGeneres Show: 'I might have gone into her empty room, laid down on her bed and cried when she went to college.'

Witherspoon and Phillippe have, of course, grown up in different times and so have been exposed to a different breadth of conversation around sexuality.

But one thing that's for sure is they're supportive of each other.

Reese previously doted on her daughter when speaking to US Weekly, saying: 'She’s very cutting-edge, and she knows a lot about fashion. And she has her own sense of style, which is amazing.'

'We try to kind of confer about new styles. She tells me whether or not I can wear things,' she continued and the pair's echoing red carpet style is clear to see.

And back in 2017, when sharing a post on Instagram highlighting 18 letters given to her by mother Witherspoon, Phillippe who was commemorating her milestone birthday at the time, wrote: '18 letters that made me cry (hard) today, courtesy of my lovely mother.'

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