Biography

Ashley Judd is well known for dexterously starring in both box office hits and for turning in unforgettable performances in fine independent films. From her debut in Sundance Film Festival grand jury prize winner, Ruby In Paradise,  to Where the Heart Is,  Simon Burch,  Helen,  De-Lovely  and Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood,  her films tell very personal stories-- which is exactly what Judd does when she is not making movies.

But the stories she tells are not about being a Golden Globe and Emmy-nominated actress or about making People magazine's “50 Most Beautiful People” list three times. As a board member for Population Services International (PSI) and as Global Ambassador for YouthAIDS, Judd speaks on behalf of those who cannot speak for themselves.

Judd has traveled the world to do international public health work on all fronts– maternal health, child survival, human rights, family planning, STD and HIV prevention and malaria prevention and treatment. She has experienced firsthand the connection between poverty, illness and gender inequality and how that sets up the pain and degradation that is sex and labor slavery (on which she testified before the General Assembly of the United Nations). Judd says, "The more we hear their stories, the more motivated we are to heal them and the social systems that victimized them in the first place. I believe with all my soul that the art of compassionate witnessing is at the core of global change and peace building."

She is also passionate about the environment. An eighth generation Kentuckian, she is an outspoken critic of mountaintop removal coal mining. A proponent of a "green collar" economy, Judd is committed to helping find innovative renewable energy solutions. In May 2010, Judd received her Master's Degree in Public Administration from Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government. She has spoken at many prestigious conferences around the world, including the London School of Economics' Family Planning Summit, sponsored by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. She also hosted a talk with President Clinton on the work of the Clinton Foundation for the London School of Economics. In 2012, she spoke on the floor of the Democratic National Convention as the delegate from Tennessee asked to cast the ballots for the party's nominee for president and vice president.

Whether it's on behalf of a patient dying from a preventable illness a world away or on behalf a family struggling to find clean drinking water in Appalachia, Judd is telling the stories of the vulnerable and the at-risk. Judd says, "I don't do it because I'm an actor. I do it because I'm a human being."

Topics

To Tell Their Stories

A glamorous film and stage actress might be the last person you’d expect to be holding the hand of a child in a slum in Mumbai…or traveling to Kenya, South Africa, Thailand, Cambodia and India to talk about condom use, hygiene and sanitation, legal empowerment, or access to micro-financing. She might not be who you’d picture visiting with families in Appalachia whose children draw water as black or red because they don't know creek water is supposed to run clear--or who listens to stories of busted unions and miners with chronic health problems. Ashley Judd is such a person.

From horrifying brothels and degrading slums in Third World countries to environmentally ravaged communities here in America, Judd is committed to telling the stories of the people she meets. Far from being a perfect "Mother Teresa-like" figure, Judd has been very open about her own struggles, including depression. She believes that mental illness need not be treated with a sense of secrecy or stigma, and that her own journey has made her an even more effective advocate for others facing their own issues. "Because I finally faced my past, and realized that where I come from, and what happened to me, and how I participated, is not who I am -- today I can live happy, joyous, and free," says Judd. Judd is an impressive presenter, stunning audiences with information that not only educates, but stirs the spirit. Articulate, passionate, but not without humor, Judd’s experiences regarding the human condition are universal principles, applicable to all, whatever their personal creed.

One does not have to travel the world as she does in order to make a difference. Judd shares her experiences and the power one voice has to impact the lives of others. To hear Ashley Judd speak is to be forever moved and inspired to action.

 

TOPICS
Activism Addiction / Recovery
Author (All That is Bitter and Sweet) Diversity
Environmental Issues Faith / Spirituality
Film Healthy Living
Fitness International Audiences / Experiences
Motivating / Inspirational Overcoming Adversity
Overcoming Illness Television
The Arts Women's Issues / Feminism

Ashley was amazing. Her remarks were so heart-felt and sincere. The audience was moved and impressed. [We] appreciated that she encouraged teachers to have greater concern for students’ welfare and to take care of themselves, so they can nurture others. I spoke to a group of attendees that have been to the conference every year for 10 years, and they all said she was the best celebrity speaker we’ve ever had, better than Bill Gates and Bill Clinton, she really connected with the audience.

National Alliance for Public Charter Schools

Ashley Judd has a compelling story to tell of her battle with depression and her journey of recovery. Her talk provides insight into the role that trauma and adverse childhood experiences can play in the development of depression and other mental health disorders. But Ms. Judd does an excellent job of not just presenting the illness of depression, but she also presents important solutions and resources that are critical to successful recovery. She is very open about her illness, her family, and her sometimes reluctant and difficult path of recovery. Ms. Judd stresses the importance of good therapeutic evidenced based treatment, good pharmacology, if needed, good self-care , NAMI, and the importance and applicability of the twelve step concepts of AA, not just to addiction recovery, but to other illnesses. Ms. Judd is not just an accomplished actress, but a highly educated and well spoken advocate for Mental Wellness and Recovery. Her message is one of hope. She engages easily with her audience and her story inspires others to ask the difficult questions that can begin their journey of Help and Hope.

Teresa Kidd, President & CEO of Frontier Health

Ashley brought such a broad and human perspective to our conversation about women's leadership - she used great empathy, personal stories and just the right amount of wit to connect with the audience in the theater and online. It's not easy to share the stage with Senators and police chiefs, but Ashley's thoughtful perspective on how women's lives prepare them to lead was absolutely a central part of our panel discussion.

Emily's List

Our event was spectacular! Ashley gave a phenomenal presentation, that impacted people greatly. Ashley articulated the trauma of abuse better than anyone I have ever seen. I think the program was incredibly educational and one of the best events the YWCA of San Diego County has produced. Thank you for your assistance with Ashley. I really enjoyed meeting her and working with her. She is an amazing woman.

YWCA of San Diego County
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Theresa Brown

WME | Speakers
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