Ashley Judd (born April 19, 1968) is an American actress, who is best known for playing a number of strong characters in films such as Ruby in Paradise, Kiss the Girls, Double Jeopardy, Where the Heart Is and High Crimes.
Ashley was born as Ashley Tyler Ciminella in Granada Hills, California. She is the daughter of Naomi Judd, a country music singer and motivational speaker, and Michael C. Ciminella, a marketing analyst for the horseracing industry. Ashley's elder half-sister Wynonna is also a country music singer. At the time of her birth, her mother was unemployed and did not become well-known as a singer until the early 1980s. Judd's parents divorced in 1972, and in 1973, her mother took her back to her native Kentucky, where Judd spent the majority of her childhood. She also lived in Marin County, California for two years during grade school.
Judd attended thirteen schools before college, including the Sayre School in Lexington, Kentucky and Franklin High School in Tennessee. She briefly tried modeling in Japan during one 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, a move that mirrored her role as Reed in the television series Sisters. She graduated from the UK Honors Program and was nominated to Phi Beta Kappa, but did not graduate with her class. Forgoing her commitment to join the Peace Corps, after college she drove to Hollywood, where she studied with well-respected 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 later burned down during the great Malibu fires of fall 1993. On May 9, 2007, it was announced Judd had completed her bachelor's degree in French from the University of Kentucky. In a May 2007 appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show
, Judd explained she had completed her degree requirements in 1990 with 27 more hours taken than the required 120 hours, but had mistakenly thought she was one class short. She only needed to "sign a piece of paper" in order to graduate. DeGeneres
then surprised Judd by presenting her with her diploma, in which Ellen acquired from the university.
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 Winning, Ruby in Paradise. 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. 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.
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; 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.
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 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." Regarding the clothing line, Judd said, "I'm thrilled to be involved in a clothing line that provides simple, lovely solutions for women's wardrobes. I've always loved items that you can throw on easily and know that you'll feel and look good. This line does just that, while keeping with the best of current styles and trends."
In December 1999, Judd became engaged to Scottish auto racer Dario Franchitti, who was at the time driving in Champ Car World Series (he has since raced in IndyCars and NASCAR). The two were married at Skibo Castle, near Dornoch, Scotland, on December 12, 2001. She and her husband divide their time between a home in Scotland and their farm outside Franklin, Tennessee.
Although Judd is best known for regularly attending University of Kentucky basketball games (frequently sitting in the student section), she has also attended several Kentucky football games. Last year, Judd was a guest columnist for a local Kentucky newspaper, writing about the NCAA championships. She is frequently sought out for celebrity camera shots during televised games. Judd posed for a poster wearing only a hockey jersey for fund raising purposes for the University of Kentucky's hockey team. She is also an avid practitioner of yoga, cooking and gardening.
In February 2006, Judd entered a program at Shades of Hope Treatment Center in Buffalo Gap, Texas and stayed for 47 days. She was there because of personal issues, including depression and codependency.
A disagreement between Judd and Indy race car driver Milka Duno took place during the 2007 Indy Racing League season. After the final race of the 2007 season, the actress stated to the assembled news 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."
Judd was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Union College in Barbourville, Kentucky on May 9, 2009. In July 2009, Judd enrolled at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government in the Mid-Career Master in Public Administration (MC/MPA) program. On May 27, 2010, Judd received her degree.
Biography courtesy of Wikipedia