Ashley Tyler Judd, nee Ciminella, is an at least 10th generation Eastern Kentuckian. She lives in Tennessee and Kentucky, and loves spending time in Scotland with her family. She is also a direct descendent of Pilgrim mother and father Mary and William Brewster, who, after years of religious persecution helped organize and then sailed on the Mayflower.
A celebrated and acclaimed actor, she has starred in 20 films, both box office hits and independent treasures, and on Broadway. She is presently starring in Missing, a new drama for ABC that will premiere in 2012. Set in Europe, Missing is about Becca Winstone, a dedicated mother who walked away from a dangerous career in the CIA, only to be drawn back into that world when her only child mysteriously disappears. It is a role in which Judd’s fans will love her, that of a strong, vulnerable, smart, determined, and empathetic woman American women. Her many film 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 in Anthropology, Art History, Theater, and Women’s Studies. She also graduated from UK’s Honor’s Program. In 2009, she fulfilled her dream of going to graduate school. The Thursday prior to her husband winning the Indy 500 again, she graduated from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government with an MPA. Amongst other achievements at Harvard, she was awarded the Dean’s Scholar Award for her work in the Harvard Law class, Gender Violence: Law and Social Justice.
In 2006, Ashley attended an intensive in patient treatment program at Shades of Hope to begin to meaningfully heal from unresolved childhood grief that manifest as depression and codependency. She rejoices in a recovering way of life and sharing her experience, strength, and hope. “I had no idea there was help for someone like me, without an identifiable addiction or dependency. It is thus very important to me to speak without shame and stigma about depression, codependency and adult child issues, because I have now been taught we are only as sick as our secrets. Because someone carried the message of recovery to me, and helped me begin to learn about family systems and how affected I was by other people’s addictions of various kinds, I have learned that I, too, can recover! Who knew?! It is a wonderful, miraculous thing!” Although Shades of Hope specializes in the treatment of eating disorders, the Center can be an appropriate for those without disordered eating patterns.
Raised protestant and grounded in an inclusive Christian faith that honors and respects all backgrounds, Ashley has a strong spiritual practice that includes Passage Meditation. Her past times include listening to bluegrass music, playing running charades, hiking, supporting her husband’s racing, cooking (especially traditional, regional southern food) gardening (she planted 2 bio diverse, heirloom orchards in 2008) and reading.