Reese Witherspoon insists sexism and sexual harassment has been ''rampant'' in Hollywood for years.

The 'Big Little Lies' actress used her acceptance speech for WSJ. Magazine's Entertainment Innovator accolade to address the recent scandals to hit the movie industry involving the likes of Harvey Weinstein, Brett Ratner and Kevin Spacey, and called for some ''much-needed change'' to be made to end ''biases''.

She quipped: ''I don't know if you guys heard, but there's been a lot of stuff going on in Hollywood.

''I don't know if you guys have read the news or anything, but we've been dealing with some really ugly truth of sexism and sexual harassment and it has been rampant for far longer than I've been an actress, but it's brought back a lot of painful memories for people and it's been a real time of reckoning for us and there is definitely a growing realisation that we need to take the time to really examine the biases that exist in our industry and make much needed change.''

The 41-year-old actress-and-producer - who was accompanied to the event at New York City's Museum of Modern Art by her 18-year-old daughter Ava - believes changes need to include having women more involved in decision making, and she's determined to be involved in making that happen.

She continued: ''Women want to see every age of a woman on screen, they want to see every ethnicity of woman on screen, they want to see every size and every shape, and quite frankly we just can't see the same films from the same group of people over and over again and expect society to change, and that's why I wake up every day so impassioned to give more women opportunities to get their stories told.

''I've had an incredible career as an actress and it's my first love, I love being an actor but now it's become abundantly clear to me that I have a new mission and that's to do more for others in my industry.

''I'm determined to create more opportunity for other women and people of colour. To help them tell their stories. To encourage to CEOs to take changes on high-level female executives and champion new female voices on film because the stories we tell have got to change.''

And Reese - who as well as Ava, also has son Deacon, 14, with ex-husband Ryan Phillippe, and five-year-old Tennessee with husband Jim Toth - believes it only takes something ''small'' to instigate huge changes.

She concluded: ''And sometimes change is about something small, sometimes change starts in a room like this with people like all of you. Thank you so much.''