She said that it gave her "a sense of family and tradition" and taught her about "being conscientious about people's feelings, being polite, being responsible and never taking for granted what you have in your life." she was instead cast for the lead role of Dani Trant, a 14-year-old country girl who falls in love for the first time with her 17-year-old neighbor.According to The Guardian, her performance made an early impression.
The sequel was not as financially successful as the first film and it generated mostly negative reviews.
Her leading role of Tracy Flick in Election (1999) was nominated for a Golden Globe Award.
Witherspoon's breakthrough role was playing Elle Woods in the 2001 film Legally Blonde, for which she received her second Golden Globe nomination.
The film became a box office success and a cult classic.
Next came perhaps Witherspoon's career-defining role: starring with Matthew Broderick in Election, based on Tom Perrotta's novel; for her portrayal of Tracy Flick, she received vast critical acclaim and won the Best Actress Award from the National Society of Film Critics and the Online Film Critics Society, a first Golden Globe nomination and an Independent Spirit Award nomination.
The following year, she starred in the romantic comedy Sweet Home Alabama, which emerged as her biggest live-action commercial success.