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Get to know Reese Witherspoon’s three kids: Ava, Deacon and Tennessee
Reese Witherspoon has enjoyed an impressive career. From starring in countless award-winning TV shows and movies to founding a female-focused production company and book club, the Legally Blonde star has done it all. However, being a mom to her three kids is the role she enjoys the most.
Witherspoon shares daughter Ava Phillippe, 24, and son Deacon Phillippe, 20, with ex-husband Ryan Phillippe, as well as son Tennessee James Toth, 11, with her ex Jim Toth. In March 2023 — days before Witherspoon and Toth's 12-year wedding anniversary — the couple announced their divorce. "Our biggest priority is our son and our entire family as we navigate this next chapter," they wrote in a joint statement. A source also told PEOPLE that the two are "committed to co-parenting together."
While balancing motherhood with the demands of her multifaceted career has certainly not been easy, Witherspoon says the sacrifices were "truly worth it."
"There's a lot of compromise ... You feel like that's what makes me wake up on a Sunday, it's not movies or my job, it's my kids," the actress said on The Drew Barrymore Show. "Being a mom is really great, it's a big part of my life. I would say it's the biggest part of my life."
Witherspoon also spoke about parenting during an interview with Gayle King for InStyle, where she explained that her kids are her "first, most important priority." She continued, "If I told you how much space in my brain they take up every day — do you even think they know, Gayle? I don't even think they know."
"There's a point at which you need to get off texts," the mom of three said. "I talk to my older kids about the power of picking up the phone. Direct communication can sometimes get right to the point. But kids that age don't like you to call them. They're like, 'Ugh, it's my mom!' "
Here's everything to know about Witherspoon's three children.
Ava Elizabeth Phillippe, 24
Witherspoon and Phillippe's older child, Ava Elizabeth Philippe, was born on Sep. 9, 1999, in L.A. Witherspoon was just 23 years old when she had Ava. The actress later spoke about being a young mom during an appearance on The Drew Barrymore Show.
"To be completely candid, I was terrified," Witherspoon told host Drew Barrymore. "I got pregnant when I was 22 years old, and I didn't know how to balance work and motherhood, you just do it … I was just like every other mom and dad trying to figure it out."
Ava is now 24 herself, and she looks just like her mother — so much so that both Witherspoon and Ava have joked about it in interviews.
"I'm so proud of her. She really rolls with it. I'm sure it's not easy looking exactly like your mother," Witherspoon said in an interview with InStyle.
The mother-daughter duo also share a similar sense of style and a passion for beauty. While speaking to PEOPLE at Coachella, Ava joked about their tendency to dress alike, even when they are apart. "When we're separated, we're like, 'What are you wearing? Oh! That's weirdly similar,' " she explained.
She added that her love of makeup was partly inspired by her mom. "My first memories of makeup are of [watching] my grandmother and the way she does her lipstick and her blush and her eyeliner. And the way my mom would get glammed up for events," she said.
Ava and Witherspoon have a very sweet relationship, and frequently post cute pictures together on Instagram. On Mother's Day in 2022, Ava shared a throwback photo of herself and Witherspoon. She wrote in the caption, "happy happy mother's day to my gorgeous, thoughtful, strong, & fun mama! I am so lucky to love & be loved by a mom like you."
While her mom inspires her in many ways, Ava is carving out her own path. In addition to graduating from UC Berkeley, she's also pursuing a career in modeling and has landed campaigns with brands like Pat McGrath, Beyonce's Ivy Park and her mother's line, Draper James.
In October 2022, Witherspoon visited the set of Today with Hoda & Jenna. When she shared a photo of Ava with the hosts, Jenna Bush Hager shouted, "Wait, y'all are twins!" The actress smiled and said, "She and I don't see it that much."
In July 2023, Ava joined her mom at Oceana’s annual Sea Change summer party. The mother-daughter duo had a twinning moment on the red carpet — they both wore strapless ensembles and had their hair styled in effortless beach waves.
Two months later, Witherspoon celebrated Ava's 24th birthday with a loving tribute on Instagram. The proud mom shared a cute throwback photo from when Ava was young as well as a more recent picture of the mother-daughter duo.
“Happy Birthday to my glorious girl,” the actress wrote in the caption. “It's the joy of my life to watch you grow and become the most inspiring, thoughtful, creative, dynamic, funny woman."
Deacon Reese Phillippe, 20
Deacon Reese Phillippe was born on Oct. 23, 2003, in L.A.
The now-20-year-old graduated from high school in the spring of 2022, and his parents threw a backyard commencement ceremony to mark the occasion. Witherspoon also shared a sweet Instagram post honoring the milestone. "So proud of the thoughtful, talented, kind & generous young man you have become. You light up our hearts and make us proud everyday," she wrote in the caption.
Deacon is following in his parent's footsteps and pursuing a career in the entertainment industry. He has already taken the first steps in his career as a music producer with the release of his hit single "Long Run" in 2020.
Witherspoon couldn't have been more proud of her son's accomplishment and she posted an adorable video of her dancing to the song on Instagram. "When your kid has his first single ... you gotta dance!" the caption read.
He opened up about his passion for producing with Interview magazine and shared that his dad, who also makes music, helped him get into it.
"When I was listening to the radio in the car with my dad, something just clicked. I realized there's more to making music than just being a vocalist, and that a lot of times it's the production that makes me feel something," he explained. "I asked my dad about how it works, and he taught me all the stuff he knew, and then I started watching YouTube videos."
Deacon has also tried his hand at acting, and he made his acting debut in the third season of Netflix's teen show Never Have I Ever.
Deacon and his older sister, Ava, are very close. In honor of his 18th birthday, Ava posted a touching tribute to her brother on Instagram, writing in the caption, "I cannot believe the first baby I ever held is now 18 years old … D, you're simply the best. Funny, loyal, intelligent, genuine, kind, passionate, creative…and the list goes on. You light up rooms and always look for the best in people. Watching you grow into who you're meant to be is such a joy, and I'm eternally grateful to be your big sister."
For Interview magazine, Witherspoon opened up about what it's been like to watch both Ava and Deacon grow up.
"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," she told Tracee Ellis Ross during the interview. "So I'm really, really grateful that these little humans are in my life. Adult humans. I have two adult children now, Tracee. It's crazy."
Many people have commented on the fact that Deacon and Ava are spitting images of their parents. But it doesn't come as a surprise to Phillippe.
"What I get a lot lately is they think Deacon looks like [Witherspoon] and Ava looks like me," he told Extra. "My response is always, 'Duh … How are you surprised that children look like their parents?' Isn't that biologically how it's meant to work?"
Deacon is currently attending New York University. On Feb. 1, 2023, he posted photos and videos from his college experience on Instagram. In one photo, he sat in his dorm with a lit-up broken heart and a red EMBIID 21 basketball jersey behind him.
"In flow" he wrote in the caption.
In April 2023, Witherspoon, Phillippe and Ava attended the release party for Deacon's debut album, A New Earth.
"All I can say is that it came from pure love, for what I do and for the people that listen," the musician wrote on Instagram when introducing the record to his followers. "This is a story of my life, our lives, and of love and life in general; it carries thoughts and emotions that I've accumulated, felt, observed, bottled up, and dealt with through the last 19 years of my life. This project was created in my dorm, made by three college kids with big dreams and bigger hearts."
Deacon continued: "And while I can't say for certain what it will do for you, but for me, it showed me that you don't have to leave this planet to find A NEW EARTH."
Tennessee James Toth, 11
Witherspoon and Toth, welcomed their only child together, Tennesse Toth, on Sep. 27, 2012, in L.A.
Although Witherspoon keeps him out of the public eye, she has occasionally shared some shots of her youngest on social media over the years, including many birthday tributes.
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, she gave fans a glimpse of what it was like homeschooling her young son. Tennessee also joined the entire family at the premiere of Witherspoon's animated movie Sing 2 in 2021. The mom of three posted a video from the night on Instagram as well as a shot of the family at the original movie's premiere five years prior.
The actress loves bonding with her boys, and in 2022, she shared a picture of herself, Toth and her two sons cheering on the Nashville Soccer Club.
It's clear his older siblings love to dote on Tennessee as well. Ava posted a sweet picture for his birthday, writing, "Happy happy birthday to this bold, sensitive, smart, & energetic boy. Sure, I was a big sister before him, but he made me an even better one! I love you, Tenn." While on a family vacation, Deacon posted some pictures of himself and Tennessee goofing around.
"Bean down," Deacon captioned the snaps, which showed Tennessee hanging on his older brother's back before he tumbled to the ground laughing.
Following Witherspoon and Toth's divorce news in March 2023, a source told PEOPLE the parents are focused on taking care of their family.
"They love Tennessee, and this is their focus. The move from Los Angeles to Nashville was a big deal for him," the insider shared. "They don't want the divorce to affect him negatively. They will continue to co-parent amicably. There is no drama."
In September 2023, Witherspoon celebrated her youngest's 11th birthday by sharing a sweet photo of her hugging Tennessee tightly. "Happy 11th Birthday to my wonderful son, Tenn! 💫," read her caption. "I love your curiosity, your endless energy and your playful sense of humor. Everyday you make me think more about the world around us and dream even bigger. I 💙you so much, Buddy!"
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