Celebrity Then And Now
Posted by Jake Frost
Celebrity Then And Now
Publication: Stanton Daily. Posted by Jake Frost
April 19, 1968
1990s - Present
Currently Known For:
Actress and Activist
Naomi Judd's Daughter, Wynona Judd's Sister, and Films: Kiss the Girls, Double Jeopardy, Where the Heart Is and The Divergent Series: Insurgent
“I was always told I was special. And I was also assured that I had a gift and a purpose.” Raised among country music royalty with her mother, Naomi, and her sister, Wynonna, making up one of the hottest duos in Nashville, Tennessee in the late 1980s, Ashley Judd set out on her own path to stardom as she pursued a career on the silver screen. Getting her start in the early 1990s, she’s starred in dozens of projects with leading roles in Kiss the Girls, Double Jeopardy, Where the Heart Is, The Divergent Series: Insurgent and The Divergent Series: Allegiant. Constantly raising the bar for herself, she earned her master’s degree from Harvard University while working as a humanitarian and activist with strong political opinions. Most recently, she’s made headlines for accusing Miramax co-founder Harvey Weinstein of sexual harassment with dozens of actresses taking Judd’s lead and speaking out against Weinstein in one of the biggest scandals in Hollywood history.
Long before she ever dreamed of joining the ranks of Hollywood, Ashley Tyler Ciminella was born on April 19, 1968 in Los Angeles, California. After her parents divorced in 1972, Ashley settled down in her mother’s hometown in Kentucky where Naomi found work and slowly launched her career as a country singer. As Naomi’s career blossomed on the stage, Ashley attended over a dozen schools throughout Kentucky and Tennessee before graduating from high school and enrolling at the University of Kentucky where she studied French, art history, theater and women’s studies. Although she planned to work with the Peace Corps after graduation, she left college early and headed straight for Hollywood where she worked as a restaurant hostess while studying acting under Robert Carnegie.
Eventually returning to Tennessee and settling down on a farm near her mother and sister, Ashley’s venture to Hollywood proved invaluable as she snagged her first gig on two episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation before landing a recurring role on the television drama, Sisters, from 1991 to 1994. Amid her success on the series, she made her silver screen debut in Kuffs in 1992 and landed her first starring role in Ruby in Paradise in 1993, which earned her stellar reviews and sealed her fate in Hollywood.
Going on to appear in Smoke and Heat before joining Mira Sorvino in Norma Jean and Marilyn, Judd was a household name by the end of the decade thanks to blockbusters like Kiss the Girls and Double Jeopardy. By the new millennium, things shifted with Judd’s career taking a hit-or-miss approach with moderate praise for projects like Someone Like You, High Crimes, and De-Lovely while critics panned her 2004 performance in Twisted, which was ranked the worst film of the year. Being exceptionally selective with her next project, Judd returned to film in 2006 with Come Early Morning and followed the hit with Bug, Helen, Crossing Over and Dolphin Tale.
Amid her second wave of success, Judd completed her bachelor’s degree at the University of Kentucky and earned her master’s degree in public administration from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. She was later awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Kentucky’s Union College and, as of 2016, enrolled at the University of California at Berkeley to pursue her doctorate in Public Policy. As many imagined, her interest and passion for public policy stems from her humanitarian efforts and political opinions after supporting Barack Obama’s presidential campaign as well as her work with organizations like the Children’s Medical Research Institute, Creative Coalition, Defenders of Wildlife, International Center for Research on Women, YouthAIDS, and Women for Women International. She’s also traveled with the Enough Project to the Democratic Republic of Congo to raise awareness of sexual violence in the area. In 2013, she even hinted at a potential run for Senate, which is still an option for the actress!
Although her focus continues to step further and further away from the silver screen, Judd continues to act with recent credits in The Divergent Series: Insurgent, The Divergent Series: Allegiant, Barry and Good Kids. She’s also returned to television with credits as Beverly Paige in four episodes of Twin Peaks and as a series regular in the second season of Berlin Station. Apart from that, the 49-year-old has recently turned heads for her past, especially after openly accusing Miramax co-founder Harvey Weinstein of sexual harassment on and off the set of Kiss the Girls in 1997.
First revealing the incident in 2015 but refusing to name Weinstein outright, Judd wrote, “I was sexually harassed by one of our industry’s most famous, admired-slash-reviled bosses. I was making Kiss the Girls at the time, and here I was, a declared feminist. I had completed a minor in what was then called women’s studies, which we now call gender studies. And yet I did not recognize at the time what was happening to me. It took years before I could evaluate that incident and realize that there was something incredibly wrong and illegal about it. And I think that’s what’s happening in Hollywood with regard to female crew members, above-the-line and below-the-line talent, and pay disparity. We’re individually and collectively coming to a realization and acceptance that this is an entrenched part of the reality and I think that talking about it is essential to the process of becoming aware, accepting that his is reality and then ultimately taking action.”
Recently taking action and publicly outing Weinstein after he begged her to watch him shower one night after filming, Judd has watched as many of her costars and friends in Hollywood have brought their own allegations forward against the Hollywood mogul. “Women have been talking about Harvey amongst ourselves for a long time, and it’s simply beyond time to have the conversation publicly,” Judd told The New York Times. With Weinstein recently fired from his position with Miramax after over 50 women came forward, Judd is finally working to find peace two decades later. “What I would like to say to Harvey is, ‘I love you and I understand that you are sick and suffering and there is help for a guy like you too. It’s entirely up to you to get that help.’” In what’s now known as the “Weinstein effect,” we have no doubt that Judd will continue to stand up for justice in Hollywood and around the world.