The two megawatt actresses are set to star opposite each other in the upcoming Hulu miniseries adaptation of Celeste Ng‘s Little Fires Everywhere, in which they play mothers in the same city. Per Variety, Witherspoon brought the book to her fellow Time’s Up member as a potential collaboration.
However, as is a theme of their project, the stars’ origins are far from similar—and their differences aren’t lost on them. “In the real world, Reese and I are not supposed to be friends,” Washington told Variety. “I grew up in the Bronx a block away from the projects, and she grew up in Nashville, Tennessee.”
Those contrasting backgrounds gave the stars much to discuss behind the scenes as they built their venture together. As Variety put it, “Washington and Witherspoon talked in-depth about their vastly different upbringings and their levels of awareness about the inextricable intersections of race and privilege in America.”
“People walked differently, talked differently, ate differently,” Washington recalled to Variety. “It was a totally different universe that I had to learn to traverse.”
Now, as Washington and more brings stories to the public informed by lived experiences like these, the gap narrows.
“Look what we’ve achieved in just a couple generations. How do we make that ability to achieve standard for every American, not designated to certain people who grew up in certain zip codes? How do we collapse the acceptance of inequality in this country?” she told Variety. “I feel like, to a certain extent, storytelling has the ability to do that, to make us more aware of each other, and care for each other more.”