Reese Witherspoon and Ryan Phillippe welcomed their daughter in 1999
While the Legally Blonde star loves being mistaken for her 24-year-old, telling InStyle, "It makes me feel so young," she understands if her daughter has a less enthusiastic reaction to the constant comparison. "I'm sure it's not easy looking exactly like your mother," she said.
However, Ava takes it in stride. "I'm so proud of her. She really rolls with it," Witherspoon added.
Despite looking like one of the most successful faces in Hollywood, Ava is creating her own identity.
"My parents have always encouraged me to choose the path that's right for me and, you know, guide me along the way to make better choices than I might make," she shared during an appearance on Daily Pop in 2021. "I'm so grateful for that. That is such a privilege to have parents that support you in that way and to want you to be who you truly are meant to be."
Ava, who attended UC Berkeley, hasn’t decided if she’ll follow in her parent’s footsteps and venture into acting. However, she's already launched a successful modeling career, working with major brands like Ivy Park and Pat McGrath Labs.
“Ava is so down-to-earth. She wants to do great things in the world,” Witherspoon told InStyle.
So who is Ava Phillippe? Here’s everything to know about Reese Witherspoon’s eldest child and only daughter.
She was born on Sept. 9, 1999, in Los Angeles
"I lived away from my mother. My mom had a full-time job as a nurse and I had a baby really young — I was 23 years old — and so I was raising her by myself," Witherspoon said during a 2021 appearance on The View. "I don't have any sisters, I don't have any aunts. I was alone in a new city, in Los Angeles, and I literally had no friends. I would cry."
Despite not having a strong support system, it was important to Witherspoon to be a good role model for her daughter.
"Having kids made me clearer about who I was as a woman. I just wanted to exhibit good qualities for my daughter," she shared with Elle in 2013.
Witherspoon and Phillippe welcomed a second child, son Deacon, in 2003 before splitting up in 2006.
She is named after Ava Gardner
Witherspoon and Phillippe chose a classic moniker for their daughter: Ava Elizabeth Phillippe. The Summit Fever actor shared how he and Witherspoon came up with their daughter’s name during a 2008 interview with Jay Leno.
“My daughter’s name is Ava … [like] Ava Gardner, because to me she was the only woman who could break Sinatra. So the idea of that name to me is very classy and strong," he said.
Ava’s middle name Elizabeth is also the middle name of Reese’s mom.
She is a model
Ava made her modeling debut when she posed in the lookbook for Rodarte’s Fall 2018 collection, and later that same year, starred in an ad alongside her actress mom for Witherspoon’s clothing company, Draper James.
She has since modeled for Halls of Ivy — the 2021 holiday collection for Beyoncé's fashion label, Ivy Park — before becoming the face of Pat McGrath Labs' limited-edition Bridgerton collection in 2021.
"I was like ... Pat McGrath is DMing me? Huh?" Ava recalled of landing her first beauty campaign to PEOPLE. "I have such admiration for her. And for her to even reach out to me or think of me was flattering."
She enjoys art
Ava takes after her maternal grandmother Betty Reese in her love for creating art. The budding artist frequently posts original paintings, sketches, photography and poetry on her Instagram in addition to some of her grandmother’s works, including custom painted plates and a portrait of Ava’s dog, Benji.
Reese takes pride in her daughter’s work and is supportive of her creative endeavors. When Ava posted an image of a painting – of what appears to be her and Benji – and shared that she was “not super satisfied” with the finished product, her mom wrote, “This is wonderful! I love seeing your art.”
She is a dog mom
Ava takes pride in her four-legged friend, Benji, whom she adopted in 2020. Calling him “a dream of a rescue dog,” in a post shortly after taking him in, she also shared that “he is the happiest, smartest boy, and I’m so grateful to be his person.”
Her Instagram is full of snaps from their adventures, which include hiking, going on walks, hanging out at the pier and weathering the rain.
She even uses him as inspiration for her artwork, posting an image of the portrait she painted of him.
She recreated her mom’s iconic pool scene from ‘Legally Blonde’
Ava played up her striking resemblance to her mom by recreating one of the most memorable scenes from Legally Blonde: Elle Woods floating in a pool for her admissions video into Harvard.
Stretched out on a striped towel with her hair cascading over her shoulder, the poolside photo promoted her partnership with Aerie, where she sported a periwinkle one-piece bathing suit from the line.
She is a red carpet pro
With her parents both actors, Ava grew up going to red carpet events from a young age. She attended the ceremony for her mom’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 11 years old.
One of her earliest memories of makeup was watching “the way my mom would get glammed up for events," she previously told PEOPLE.
After accompanying her parents to events as a child, she now holds her own on the red carpet, regularly attending premieres, awards shows and Fashion Week events.
She experiments with fashion and beauty
Ava isn’t afraid of taking risks when it comes to fashion and beauty. In addition to sporting bold eyeshadow colors, she’s also donned vibrant hair.
"I mean, I've had so many different hair colors," she told PEOPLE during Coachella in 2022. "I've gone pink, blue, purple, whatever.”
In April 2023, she debuted yet another new look: bangs! The model unveiled her spring chop while wearing a daisy chain crown on Instagram. Not long after, her mom seemingly followed suit by showing off some new piecey bangs of her own in a selfie.
She's close with her siblings
Ava is a big sister to two younger brothers: Deacon and Tennessee, whom Witherspoon welcomed with her then-husband Jim Toth in 2012.
Despite her 13-year age gap with Tennessee, the siblings have a close bond. In fact, the model called their age difference the "greatest gift" while celebrating her little brother's 10 birthday in September 2022. "I once worried about our 13-year age gap, getting to share some of my favorite childhood movies, shows, books, activities, and memories with him has been the greatest gift I never saw coming," she wrote.
As for Deacon, the brother-sister duo have a lot in common thanks to their burgeoning careers in the spotlight (Deacon made his acting debut in the third season of Netflix's Never Have I Ever). Ava and Deacon regularly attend industry events together, most recently stepping out in coordinating outfits at a fashion event in Hollywood in August 2023.
She often twins with her mom
Ava has a close relationship with her entire family, but has an especially tight-knit bond with her mom. Ava and Witherspoon not only spend quality time together behind the scenes, but they also regularly step out together at events — often in twinning outfits!
In July 2023, the pair walked the red carpet at advocacy group Oceana’s annual Sea Change summer party in coordinating attire. Witherspoon wore a sage green cinched dress while Ava donned a champagne white, cinched top. "Summer nights with my favorite daughter 😎💗✨," the actress captioned a snap of the duo on Instagram, where they further matched with nearly identical black sunglasses.
While speaking with PEOPLE in April 2022, Ava shared how she and Witherspoon bond over their mutual love of fashion — even when they're apart. "When we're separated, we're like, 'What are you wearing? Oh! That's weirdly similar," she said.
Witherspoon also touched on the duo's connection during an interview with Interview magazine in June 2021.
"That makes me want to cry, the idea of having a long relationship with adult children,” she said. "I never expected the kind of relationship that I have with them, but it's so rewarding to be able to have kids that you can process life with a little bit, and they help me understand the complexities of what it means to be a human now."
Ava echoed the sentiment in a Mother's Day tribute for Reese in May 2023. "gosh I love sharing life with you," she captioned a throwback photo of Witherspoon giving her a kiss.
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