It's not always easy, but the actress has a group of close girlfriends – that now includes Sofia Vergara

By Tim Nudd
Updated April 10, 2015 12:00 PM
Credit: In Style Magazine

Don’t mess with the Southern Mafia!

That’s the nickname Reese Witherspoon has for her circle of close friends, with whom she can candidly share all her struggles with kids, marriage and work.

But it wasn’t always that way. The Oscar-winning actress, 39, admits she didn’t always have the greatest friends in the world.

“I learned a few years ago that there are people who don’t want good things for you. You’ve got to get away from them,” she says in InStyle‘s May issue, on newsstands April 17.

“Now I surround myself with supportive friends. I have a close group of girlfriends I call my Southern Mafia. One’s from Oklahoma, one’s from Arkansas, another’s from Tennessee. I get a lot out of my relationships with them. Parenting, getting through your marriage, getting through your day, these are hard things, and I find solace in the fact that other people struggle with the same stuff I do. We all have concerns about our kids, our marriage, our dreams.”

Having great women around to inspire her – and her daughter Ava – is a theme in Witherspoon’s life these days.

“I grew up seeing incredibly strong women like Holly Hunter, Sigourney Weaver and Debra Winger,” Witherspoon says. “I want to ensure that my 15-year-old daughter, Ava, grows up seeing those types of strong women playing complicated parts.”

Witherspoon has played plenty of those parts herself, of course – including her Oscar-winning turn as June Carter Cash in Walk the Line and her memorable portrayal of Cheryl Strayed in Wild.

And lately, she’s struck up a remarkable friendship with another powerful woman in Hollywood – Sofia Vergara, with whom she stars in the upcoming comedy Hot Pursuit.

“As soon as I met Sofia, I said, ‘I want to make a movie with you.’ I think she’s the next Lucille Ball,” Witherspoon says.

“We represent two completely different cultures and kinds of women, but we just love each other. We laughed so much. I couldn’t understand what she was saying half the time. She couldn’t understand what I was saying half the time. But we both love cake, clothes, kids and our families.”

Reese Witherspoon Gushes About Sofia Vergara’s Talent and Beauty