Ashley Judd is an award-winning film and stage actor known for her roles in both box-office hits and art-house gems, and the daughter and sister of country-music royalty. In 2002, drawing on a deep well of empathy, she found her true calling: as a humanitarian and advocate for those suffering in neglected parts of the world.
Asked why she was opting out of a successful career, walking away while she was one of the highest-paid women in Hollywood, Ashley herself could not provide an answer. She simply knew that after her first trip to the notorious brothels, slums, and hospices of southeast Asia, her own life depended on advocating on behalf of the vulnerable. Promising each new sister, “I will never forget you,” Ashley began writing extraordinary diaries—on which this memoir is based—expanding her capacity to relate to, and to share with a global audience, stories of survival and resilience.
Along the way, Ashley realized that the coping strategies she had developed to deal with her own emotional pain, stemming from childhood abandonment, were no longer working. Seeking in-patient treatment in 2006 for the grief that had nearly killed her, Ashley found not only her own recovery and an enriched faith but an expanded kit of spiritual tools that energized and advanced her feminist social justice work.
Now, in this deeply moving and unforgettable memoir, Ashley Judd describes her odyssey, as a left-behind lost child attains international prominence as a fiercely dedicated advocate. Her story ranges from anger to forgiveness, isolation to interdependence, depression to activism. In telling it, she resoundingly answers the ineffable question about the relationship between healing oneself and service to others.
Ashley Tyler Judd, nee Ciminella, is an at least 8th generation Eastern Kentuckian. She currently resides on a farm in rural middle Tennessee and maintains close kinship and cultural ties with Appalachia.
A celebrated and acclaimed actor, she has starred in 20 films, both box office hits and independent treasures, and on Broadway. Titles include, Ruby in Paradise, her debut, which won the Sundance Film Festival’s Grand Jury prize, Double Jeopardy, Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood, and De-Lovely. She has focused on meaningful roles in critically acclaimed indies in recent years, turning in unforgettable performances in Come Early Morning and Bug. Her work also includes family favorites, such as Simon Birch and the recent smash, Tooth Fairy. She just wrapped Flypaper, a bank heist drama/comedy, with a gifted ensemble cast that includes Patrick Dempsy, Tim Blake Nelson, Matt Ryan, and Jeffery Tambour. On Broadway, she has played the role of Madge in the Pulitzer prize winning play, Picnic and the iconic Maggie the Cat in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. She has been nominated for Golden Globes and Emmys, and has won a variety of critical awards. She is currently developing projects which deal with themes about which she is passionate, such as mountain top removal coal mining and the role of faith and spiritual practice in a troubled world.
Ashley is a dedicated humanitarian. Her work as an advocate and activist dates to her undergraduate years at the University of Kentucky. At present, she serves on the Board of Directors of Population Services International, Defenders of Wildlife, and Shaker Village. She has traveled, literally, around the world, visiting grassroots programs that focus on poverty alleviation, public health, human rights, and social justice. Entrusted with the sacred stories shared with her by the vulnerable, and often exploited yet remarkably resilient populations to whom she has dedicated much of her life, Ashley then speaks truth to power, carrying the message of empowerment and equality to heads of state, donors, the private sector, and the media. A small sampling of her advocacy work includes: Giving the keynote address on the modern slave trade to the 2008 General Assembly of the United Nations, testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the urgent need to prevent the spread of HIV to girls and women, speaking to the National Press Club, appearing on major news programs, and filming 3 documentaries seen by over a billion people worldwide. She has served as an expert panelist/moderator at conferences such as the Clinton Global Initiative, the Women Deliver Conference, the International AIDS conference, and the Global Business Coalition to stop HIV, TB, and Malaria, and the National Press Club.
Additionally, she actively supports a number of organizations, ranging from Women for Women International, Women Thrive Worldwide, Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council, Planned Parenthood, NARAL, Tennessee Refugee and Immigration Reform Committee. Her 2010 advocacy includes the DREAM Act, International Violence Against Women Act, the anti FGM bill, amongst others.
A sought after public speaker, Ashley addressed the National Press Club 9 June 2010, this time regarding the rape of Appalachia, mountain top removal coal mining. In the past month, her Op Eds on subjects ranging from MTR to the urgent need for modern family planning in the developing world have been published in paper and electronic media.
Ashley is married to Dario Franchitti, a 2 time Indy Racing League and 2 time Indy 500 champion. The couple, in addition to their farm in Tennessee, make their home in Franchitti’s native Scotland. They have a variety of beloved pets, the best known of whom are perhaps their dogs, Buttermilk and Shug, who have often been photographed with the couple.
Ashley is a graduate of the University of Kentucky. She completed a major in French, and minors