Reese Witherspoon - December 2016 InStyle LEAD
Credit: Thomas Whiteside

Reese Witherspoon can claim many titles: Oscar-winning actress, founder of clothing and lifestyle brand Draper James, voice of Rosita the pig in December's animated feature Sing, star and co-producer ofHBO's February miniseries Big Little Lies, and mother of three, to name just a few. But on the night of October 2, she was, first and foremost, a Dolly Parton fan. As the country legend wrapped up the second leg of her Pure & Simple tour, Witherspoon and her friends belted out hits along with the rest of the nearly 18,000-strong sellout crowd. The following afternoon, Parton called Witherspoon to talk about being a “true Southern girl,” standing up to “bull donkeys,” and knowing exactly how much to give—and not to give—to “creative vampires.” Unsurprisingly, the admiration between the women is mutual. Read on for some select moments from their conversation and pick up the December issue of InStyle, available on newsstands and for digital download Friday, November 11th.

Reese on her inspiration:

“When I was probably 5 years old, I wanted to be Dolly Parton. I was skipping around the blacktop at school by myself, and my P.E. teacher said, “Why aren’t you playing the game [with the other kids]?” I said, “Well, I’m not going to play the game because, Ms. Wright, I’m going to be Dolly Parton when I grow up.”

Dolly Parton on being nervous filming her first movie, 9 to 5:

“I thought, 'Well, if it’s a big success, I can take part of the credit. If it’s not, I can blame it on [co-stars] Jane [Fonda] and Lily [Tomlin], because no one knows me anyway.’ I was nervous. You never want to look stupid or foolish in front of other people. But I have always said my desire to do something has always been greater than my fear of it.”

Reese on choosing who she works with:

“I think that’s another good part of getting older. I’ve realized that life is too short to spend my time with anybody who doesn’t appreciate me, treat me with respect, or bring value to the relationship. I’m much more confident now, and I feel like I have the ability to say, “Nope, I don’t want to work with that person.”

InStyle COV December - Reese Witherspoon - Pg 226
Credit: Thomas Whiteside

Reese on her clothing line, Draper James:

“It’s a new chapter for me starting a business, going around passing the hat, and promoting it all over the place. It’s a different experience, but I’m enjoying learning something new. I’ve been acting for about 25 years, and I still love it, but I like the challenge of trying something else too. I find there are a lot of people talking about New York and Los Angeles, but there’s a whole world out there in between, and that’s who I like to tell stories about and make products for – people who love the life they have and have a sense of style that’s uniquely their own.”

Reese on being a working mother:

“I’m just trying to hold on, trying to make it through. My older kids help with the little one. It’s nice to have a big family.” “My mom worked, and I think it’s good for kids to see women working and being successful. I think it’s going to make them hard workers because they see that I don’t get much sleep. But I love what I do. I want them to grow up with passion. This is the one life you get, and you have to live it to the very end.”

Pick up the December issue of InStyle, available on newsstands and for digital download Friday, November 11th.

Photographed by Thomas Whiteside; Styled by Melissa Rubini; Hair by Lona Vigi for Starworks Artists; Makeup by Molly R. Stern for Starworks Artists; Manicure by Amy Ruiz; Set design by Bette Adams for Mary Howard Studio