Sarah Harden (1990) co-founded media company Hello Sunshine with Reese Witherspoon in 2016, which sold with a record-breaking valuation last year. The company tackles Hollywood bias, centering women’s stories that have been ‘structurally silenced’ in Hollywood for decades.
As an arts student and Ormond College resident in the early 1990s, book-loving Sarah Harden had her sights set on a career in journalism. But when she landed a role with the Boston Consulting Group after uni as a “bit of an experiment” in hiring non-business graduates, she found herself on a very different path. It would ultimately lead to Hollywood, and her current role as CEO of Reese Witherspoon’s media company, Hello Sunshine.
Along the way, Sarah graduated from Harvard Business School, co-founded a start-up at the height of the dotcom boom, managed business development in Asia for Newscorp, and led video streaming company Otter Media.
Her current role as CEO at Hello Sunshine draws on those years leading media businesses at the highest levels, while providing the opportunity to deliver on a strong mission: to tell female-led stories. While that may seem a deceptively simple goal, when Harden and Witherspoon launched Hello Sunshine just five years ago, no other major production companies were doing it.
Sarah Harden (1990) co-founded media company Hello Sunshine with Reese Witherspoon in 2016, which sold with a record-breaking valuation last year. The company tackles Hollywood bias, centering women’s stories that have been ‘structurally silenced’ in Hollywood for decades. As it turns out, putting female stories at the centre of content creation is not just the right thing to do – it is also good business. Hello Sunshine sold last year for a reported $1.2 billion (USD $900 million) to Candle Media, backed by private equity firm Blackstone Group Inc.
The cultural power that comes from receiving such a high valuation is not lost on Sarah. “Power follows money,” she says. “I am excited to think about how our success to-date helps unlock opportunities for other female and diverse led media companies to get their stories made and their companies funded, too.”
Reese Witherspoon and Sarah Hardern
Share your Ormond story
Are you an Ormond alumnus? Where has life taken you and how has your College experience shaped your future path?