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Ashley Judd

Ashley Judd

Ashley Judd (born Ashley Tyler Ciminella; April 19, 1968)[1] is an American actress, and a political activist. She grew up in a family of performing artists: she is the daughter of country music singer Naomi Judd and the sister of Wynonna Judd. Her acting career has spanned more than three decades, and she has also become increasingly involved in global humanitarian efforts and political activism.

Judd has had leading roles in films including Ruby in Paradise (1993), Norma Jean & Marilyn (1996), A Time to Kill (1996), Kiss the Girls (1997), Double Jeopardy (1999), Where the Heart Is (2000), High Crimes (2002), De-Lovely (2004), Bug (2006), Dolphin Tale (2011), Divergent (2014), Dolphin Tale 2 (2014), and The Divergent Series: Insurgent (2015). She starred as Rebecca Winstone in the 2012 television series Missing, for which she was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie. In 2010, she earned a one-year mid-career master's degree in public administration from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.

Ashley Judd
Ashley Tyler Ciminella

(1968-04-19)April 19, 1968
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
EducationUniversity of Kentucky (BA)
Harvard University (MPA)
University of California, Berkeley
  • Actress
  • activist
Years active1991–present
Political partyDemocratic
Dario Franchitti
(m. 2001;div. 2013)
Parent(s)Naomi Judd
RelativesWynonna Judd (sister)

Early life

Judd was born in Granada Hills, Los Angeles. She is the daughter of Naomi Judd, a country music singer and motivational speaker, and Michael Charles Ciminella, a marketing analyst for the horseracing industry.[1][2][3] Ashley's elder sister, Wynonna, is also a country music singer. Her paternal grandfather was of Sicilian descent, and her paternal grandmother was a descendant of Mayflower pilgrim William Brewster.[4][5] At the time of her birth, her mother was a homemaker; she did not become well known as a singer until the early 1980s. Judd's parents divorced in 1972. The following year, her mother took Ashley back to Naomi's native Kentucky, where Judd spent the majority of her childhood.[6]

Judd attended 13 schools before college, including the Sayre School (Lexington, Kentucky), Paul G. Blazer High School (Ashland, Kentucky) and Franklin High School in Tennessee. She briefly tried modeling in Japan during a school break. An alumna of the sorority Kappa Kappa Gamma at the University of Kentucky, she majored in French and minored in anthropology, art history, theater, and women's studies. She spent a semester studying in France as part of her major. She graduated from the UK Honors Program and was nominated to Phi Beta Kappa but did not graduate with her class.[7] Forgoing her commitment to join the Peace Corps, after college she drove to Hollywood, where she studied with acting teacher Robert Carnegie at Playhouse West. During this time, she worked as a hostess at The Ivy restaurant and lived in a Malibu rental house, which burned down in 1993. Around that time, her half-sister Wynonna Judd leased her a historic farmhouse and 10 acres (4 ha) of land in Williamson County, Tennessee. She moved to Tennessee and lived near her mother Naomi and sister Wynonna.[8]


Judd at an ABC Missing event at The Paley Center in April 2012

Judd at an ABC Missing event at The Paley Center in April 2012

Judd appeared as Ensign Robin Lefler, a Starfleet officer, in two 1991 episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation, "Darmok" and "The Game". From 1991 to 1994, she had a recurring role as Reed, the daughter of Alex (Swoosie Kurtz), on the NBC drama Sisters. She made her feature film debut with a small role in 1992's Kuffs. In 1993, Judd fought for and was cast in her first starring role playing the title character in Victor Nuñez's Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize dramatic winner Ruby in Paradise. Convinced that this role would shape the rest of her career, Judd was extremely nervous for the audition, nearly getting into a car accident en route. "From the first three sentences, I knew it was written for me", she told the San Jose Mercury News.[9] She received rave reviews playing Ruby Lee Gissing, a young woman trying to make a new life for herself, and it was this performance that would launch her career as an actress. Nuñez told author James L. Dickerson that the resonance of the character was Judd's creation: "The resonance, those moments, was not contrived. It was just a matter of creating the scene and trusting that it was worth telling."[10]

Oliver Stone, who had seen her in Nuñez's film, cast Judd in Natural Born Killers, but her scenes were later cut from the version of the film released theatrically. The following year, she gained further critical acclaim for her role as Harvey Keitel's estranged daughter in Wayne Wang's Smoke and also as Val Kilmer's wife in Michael Mann's Heat. That same year she also played the role of Callie in Philip Ridley's dark, adult fairy tale, The Passion of Darkly Noon. In 1996, she co-starred with Mira Sorvino as Marilyn Monroe in Norma Jean and Marilyn, where she recreated the photo shoot for the centerfold for the first issue of Playboy. By the end of the 1990s, Judd had managed to achieve significant fame and success as a leading actress, after leading roles in several thrillers that performed well at the box office, including Kiss the Girls in 1997 and 1999's Double Jeopardy.

Several of her early 2000s films, including 2001's Someone Like You and 2002's High Crimes, received only mixed reviews and moderate box office success;[11] although she did receive positive recognition, and a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress, for her performance in the 2004 biography of Cole Porter, De-Lovely, opposite Kevin Kline. In the same year, however, she starred in Twisted, the worst-reviewed movie of 2004 with 131 of 133 critics panning it.[12] To date, Twisted is the last major Hollywood film in which she received top billing.

In June 2007, Goody's Family Clothing announced they were going to be releasing three fashion clothing lines with Judd in the fall to be called "AJ", "Love Ashley" and "Ashley Judd". Goody's declared bankruptcy a year later due to slow sales and its last store closed in February 2009.

Judd is currently the magazine advertising "face" of American Beauty, an Estée Lauder cosmetic brand sold exclusively at Kohl's department stores, and H. Stern jewelers. In early 2012, however, her image suddenly disappeared from American Beauty's website.[13]

In 2011, Judd co-starred with Patrick Dempsey in the film Flypaper. It grossed only $1,100 total in its very limited theatrical release and received a 17% Rotten Tomatoes rating (15 of 18 critics panned it).[14] That April, Judd released her memoir All That is Bitter and Sweet, where she talks about her trials and tribulations from adolescence to adulthood.[15] In 2012, Judd starred as Rebecca Winstone on the ABC series Missing. The series was not renewed for a second season.[16]

In 2014, Judd appeared as Natalie Prior in Divergent, which she reprised in the 2015 sequel Insurgent.

In 2014, Judd was the narrator of the documentary film about Turkish preacher Fethullah Gülen, Love is a Verb, directed by Terry Spencer Hesser.[17]

In 2015, Judd became the first woman to narrate the opening for the telecast of the Kentucky Derby.[18][19]

Personal life

Judd at the second day of qualifications for the 2009 Indianapolis 500

Judd at the second day of qualifications for the 2009 Indianapolis 500

In December 1999, Judd became engaged to Scottish racing driver Dario Franchitti, who was driving in the Champ Car World Series. Since the demise of the Champ Car World Series, Franchitti has raced in IndyCar and NASCAR. They married in December 2001 at Skibo Castle in Scotland.[20][21] They had no children together, with Judd telling the Sunday Mail that "it's unconscionable to breed with the number of children who are starving to death in impoverished countries".[21] They divorced in 2013.[22]

In February 2006, Judd entered a program at Shades of Hope Treatment Center in Buffalo Gap, Texas, and stayed for 47 days.[23] She was there for treatment of depression, insomnia, and codependency.[24]


By May 2007, Judd had completed a bachelor's degree in French at the University of Kentucky.[25] She said that she had completed her degree requirements in 1990 with 27 more credit hours taken than the required 120 hours, but had mistakenly thought she was one class short of the necessary requirements. At this time, she realized that she only needed to "sign a piece of paper" to graduate and receive her diploma.

Judd was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Union College in Barbourville, Kentucky, on May 9, 2009. She subsequently earned a Mid-Career Master of Public Administration degree (MC/MPA) from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University in 2010.[26]

In August 2016, Judd enrolled at UC Berkeley to pursue a PhD in Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy.[27]


Judd attends University of Kentucky basketball games regularly (frequently sitting in the student section), and has also attended several Kentucky football games.[28]

A disagreement between Judd and Indy race car driver Milka Duno took place during the 2007 IndyCar season. After the final race, she stated to the media: "I know this is not very sportsmanlike, but they've got to get the 23 car (Duno) off the track. It's very dangerous. I'm tired of holding my tongue. She shouldn't be out there. When a car is 10 miles [an hour] off the pace, it's not appropriate to be racing. People's lives are at stake."[29][30]

Sexual harassment and rapes

In October 2015, Judd told Variety that she had been sexually harassed by a studio mogul, but did not name the person. In October 2017, she said the person was Harvey Weinstein, co-founder of Miramax, and said that the sexual harassment occurred during the filming of Kiss the Girls.[31]

On April 30, 2018, a defamation and sexual harassment lawsuit was filed by Judd against Harvey Weinstein stating that he hurt her career by spreading lies about her after she rejected his sexual advances.[32] Weinstein filed a motion to dismiss in July.[33] In January 2019, a federal judge in California dismissed Judd's claim of sexual harassment against Weinstein. The judge allowed Judd to pursue her defamation claim that Weinstein sabotaged her career.[34]

At the Women in the World summit in April 2019, while addressing Georgia's fetal heartbeat bill passed in March 2019, Judd discussed being raped three times, one resulting in conception. She stated, “And I'm very thankful I was able to access safe and legal abortion. Because the rapist, who is a Kentuckian, as am I, and I reside in Tennessee, has paternity rights in Kentucky and Tennessee. I would've had to co-parent with my rapist.”[35]

Humanitarian work

For more than a decade, Judd's humanitarian work has focused on gender equality and the sexual and reproductive health and rights of women and girls. In 2016, she was appointed a Goodwill Ambassador for UNFPA [76] , the United Nations reproductive health and rights agency. As of May 2018, she had so far visited UNFPA's projects for women and girls affected by humanitarian crises in Jordan,[36] Turkey, Ukraine,[37] and Bangladesh,[38] and its development work in India[39] and Sri Lanka.[40]

Judd has also travelled with YouthAIDS to places affected by illness and poverty such as Cambodia, Kenya, and Rwanda.[41] She has since become an advocate for preventing poverty and promoting awareness internationally. She has met with political and religious leaders on behalf of the deprived about political and social change.[41] Judd has also narrated three documentaries for YouthAIDS that aired on the Discovery Channel, in National Geographic, and on VH1.

In 2011, she joined the Leadership Council of the International Center for Research on Women.[42] Other organizations Judd has been involved with include Women for Women International and Equality Now.[41]

Judd is active on the speakers' circuit, giving speeches about gender equality [77] , abuse and humanitarian topics.[43]

Other work

Judd (upper left) on the cover of Ms. magazine's "This is what a feminist looks like" 2003 issue

Judd (upper left) on the cover of Ms. magazine's "This is what a feminist looks like" 2003 issue

Judd has supported the following charities and foundations:[44]

  • Children's Medical Research Institute

  • Committee for Children [78]

  • Creative Coalition

  • Defenders of Wildlife

  • Eracism Foundation

  • Equality Now

  • Five & Alive

  • Jeans for Genes

  • International Center for Research on Women (ICRW)

  • Listen Campaign

  • Malaria No More

  • Population Services International

  • SixDegrees.org

  • UNFPA, the United Nations reproductive health and rights agency [79]

Political activities

Judd meeting with Senator Richard Lugar in 2005

Judd meeting with Senator Richard Lugar in 2005

In 2008, Judd supported Barack Obama's presidential campaign. In 2009, she appeared in a one-minute video advertisement for the Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund, in which Judd condemned Alaska governor Sarah Palin for supporting aerial wolf hunting.[45] In response, Palin stated the reason these wolves are killed is to protect the caribou population in Alaska. Palin called the Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund an "extreme fringe group".[46] In 2010, Judd signed the Animal Legal Defense Fund's petition to urge Governor Steve Beshear to protect Kentucky's homeless animals through tough enforcement of the state's Humane Shelter Law.[47]

Judd is active in humanitarian and political causes. She was appointed Global Ambassador for YouthAIDS, an education and prevention program of the international NGO Population Services International (PSI), promoting AIDS prevention and treatment. Judd was honored November 10, 2009, as the recipient of the fourth annual USA Today Hollywood Hero, awarded for her work with PSI.[48] On October 29, 2006, Judd appeared at a "Women for Ford" event for Democratic Tennessee Senate candidate Harold Ford, Jr. She has also campaigned extensively locally and nationally for a variety of Democratic candidates, including President Barack Obama in critical swing states.

On September 8, 2010, CNN interviewed Judd about her second humanitarian mission to the Democratic Republic of Congo.[49] Judd traveled with the Enough Project, a project to end genocide and crimes against humanity. In the interview, Judd discussed her efforts to raise awareness about how conflict minerals fuel sexual violence in Congo. During her trip, Judd visited hospitals for victims of sexual violence, camps for displaced persons, mines, and civil society organizations. On September 30, 2010, cnn.com published an op-ed titled "Ashley Judd: Electronics fuel unspeakable violence"[50] by Judd and Enough Project co-founder John Prendergast regarding the continued violence in Congo. Her op-ed discussed the recent provision in the Dodd-Frank Reform bill that requires companies to prove where their minerals originated. On November 26, 2010, The Huffington Post published an op-ed by Judd, "Costs of Convenience".[51] The op-ed is excerpted from Ashley Judd's trip diary from her trip to eastern Congo. Judd describes the link between her cell phone, laptop, MP3 player and e-reader and the continued rape and sexual violence in Congo.

Judd again supported Democrats in the 2012 elections, endorsing President Barack Obama for re-election although she did not contribute financially to his campaign.[52] She represented Tennessee as a delegate to the 2012 Democratic National Convention. She also considered returning to Kentucky and challenging U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell in 2014.[53] In response, the Conservative Super PAC "American Crossroads" released an attack ad against Judd in Kentucky.[54]

In February 2013, she invited her Twitter followers to join a mailing list, hinting that she might ultimately announce a run for the Senate to those on the list.[55] However, she announced on her Twitter feed on March 27, 2013, that she would not run, citing her "need to be focused on my family".[56] Judd endorsed Alison Lundergan Grimes, Secretary of State of Kentucky after she announced her candidacy.[57]

Judd took part in the 2017 Women's March. She performed a poem written by Nashville-area poet Nina Donovan, "Nasty Woman", to applause from the crowd.[58]



1992KuffsPaint store owner's wife
1993Ruby in ParadiseRuby Lee Gissing
1995HeatCharlene Shiherlis
The Passion of Darkly Noon
1996A Time to KillCarla Brigance
1996Normal LifePam Anderson
1997Kiss the GirlsDr. Kate McTiernan
The Locusts
1998Simon BirchRebecca Wenteworth
1999Double JeopardyElizabeth "Libby" Parsons
1999Eye of the BeholderJoanna Eris
2000Where the Heart IsLexie Coop
2001Someone Like YouJane Goodale
2002FridaTina Modotti
2002Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya SisterhoodYounger Vivi Abbott Walker
2002High CrimesClaire Kubik
2004De-LovelyLinda Porter
2004TwistedJessica Shepard
2006Come Early MorningLucy Fowler
2006BugAgnes White
2009HelenHelen Leonard
2009Crossing OverDenise Frankel
2010Tooth FairyCarly Harris-Thompson
2011Dolphin TaleLorraine Nelson
2013Olympus Has FallenFirst Lady Margaret Asher
2014DivergentNatalie Prior
2014The IdenticalLouise Wade
2014Dolphin Tale 2Lorraine Nelson
2014Big Stone GapAve Maria Mulligan
2015The Divergent Series: InsurgentNatalie Prior
2016The Divergent Series: AllegiantNatalie Prior
2016BarryAnn Dunham
2016Good KidsGabby
2019A Dog's Way HomeTerri


1991Star Trek: The Next GenerationEnsign Robin LeflerEpisodes: "Darmok" and "The Game"
1991–94SistersReed Halsey32 episodes
1994Naomi & Wynonna: Love Can Build a BridgeHerself (voice)TV movie based on The Judds' life. Megan Ward portrays Ashley.
1994Space Ghost Coast to CoastHerselfEpisode: "Elevator"
1996Norma Jean & MarilynNorma JeanTelevision film
2012MissingBecca Winstone10 episodes
2013Call Me Crazy: A Five FilmDirected "Maggie" segment
2017Twin PeaksBeverly Paige4 episodes
Berlin StationBB Yates9 episodes[59]


2007India's Hidden PlagueHerself
2014Love is a VerbNarrator

Awards and nominations

YearAwardCategoryNominated workResult
1993Chicago Film Critics Association AwardMost Promising Actress
Ruby in Paradise
Independent Spirit AwardBest Lead FemaleWon
National Society of Film Critics AwardBest ActressNominated
New York Film Critics Circle AwardsBest ActressNominated
1995Golden Globe AwardBest Actress – Miniseries or Television Film
Norma Jean & Marilyn
1996Primetime Emmy AwardOutstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a MovieNominated
1998Blockbuster Entertainment AwardFavorite Actress – Video
Kiss the Girls
Favorite Actress – SuspenseNominated
Satellite AwardBest Supporting Actress – Motion PictureNominated
2000Blockbuster Entertainment AwardFavorite Actress – Suspense
Double Jeopardy
MTV Movie AwardBest Female PerformanceNominated
2004Golden Globe AwardBest Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
2007Saturn AwardBest Actress
2012Primetime Emmy AwardOutstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie


  • Kentucky Colonel[60]

  • Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters, Union College, Barbourville, Kentucky[61]


Citation Linkwww.filmreference.com"Ashley Judd Biography (1968-)". FilmReference.com. Retrieved October 6, 2015.
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Citation Linknl.newsbank.comMICHAEL CIMINELLA, 83, JUDD GRANDFATHER, DIES, Lexington Herald-Leader (KY) – May 9, 1997
Sep 19, 2019, 7:07 AM
Citation Linkwww.newsvine.com"Ashley Judd details 'bitter and sweet' in memoir". Newsvine. April 4, 2011. Archived from the original on June 2, 2012. Retrieved May 19, 2012.
Sep 19, 2019, 7:07 AM
Citation Linkopenlibrary.orgwhich also makes her a distant cousin of Elisabeth and Andrew Shue as seen on Who Do You Think You Are?
Sep 19, 2019, 7:07 AM
Citation Linkweb.archive.orgJudd's Ancestors are found on Who Do You Think You Are?|Entertainment.gather.com Archived December 3, 2013, at the Wayback Machine (November 9, 2010). Retrieved on April 11, 2011.
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Citation Linkwww.askmen.comActress of the Week AskMen.com (2006)
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Citation Linkopenlibrary.orgNewman, Judith. "We are Family" Ladies' Home Journal (March 1998, pp. 152–55, 213–14)
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Citation Linkwww2.nationalreview.com"Ashley Judd voting record shows not a property owner in Williamson County" (PDF). nationalreview.com. Retrieved April 21, 2013.
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Citation Linkopenlibrary.orgLovell, Glenn. San Jose Mercury News, November 8, 1993
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Citation Linkopenlibrary.orgDickerson, James L. Ashley Judd:Crying on the Inside, Schirmer Trade Books, 2002, p. 75
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Citation Linkweb.archive.orgSusman, Gary. (February 27, 2004) You Be the Judd | Movies. EW.com. Retrieved on April 11, 2011. Archived April 2, 2015, at the Wayback Machine
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Citation Linkwww.rottentomatoes.comGiles, Jeff (August 7, 2008). "Moldy Tomatoes: The 10 Worst Movies of the Last 10 Years – Page 7". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved July 1, 2012.
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Citation Linkwww.americanbeautycosmetics.com"American Beauty | Home". Americanbeautycosmetics.com. June 18, 2010. Archived from the original on July 1, 2012. Retrieved July 1, 2012.
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Citation Linkwww.rottentomatoes.com"Flypaper". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved July 1, 2012.
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Citation Linkballantine.atrandom.com"Coming soon: Ashley Judd's memoir, All That is Bitter and Sweet". Ballantine Books. Retrieved March 10, 2013.
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Citation Linktvseriesfinale.com"Missing TV show cancelled; no season two". TV Series Finale. May 12, 2012. Retrieved July 1, 2012.
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Citation Linkwww.huffingtonpost.comUranli, Arzu Kaya (June 13, 2014). "Yes, Love Is a Verb!". The Huffington Post.
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Citation Linkqctimes.comDon Doxsie. "Eye Openers: Bears needed defense, but did the White thing". Qctimes.com. Retrieved May 4, 2015.
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Citation Linkwww.foxnews.com"Ashley Judd to be first woman to narrate opening of Kentucky Derby". Fox News. April 25, 2015. Archived from the original on May 4, 2015. Retrieved May 4, 2015.
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Citation Linkwww.people.comYoung, C. (December 14, 2001). "Week in Review: Winona Busted; Ashley Gets Married". Us Weekly. Retrieved January 30, 2013.
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