Ashley Judd (born April 19, 1968) is an American actress. She is perhaps best known for her leading roles in a series of late 1990s and early 2000s thrillers, including Kiss the Girls, Double Jeopardy and High Crimes.
Judd was born Ashley Tyler Ciminella in Granada Hills, California, daughter of Naomi Judd, a well-known country music singer and motivational speaker, and Michael Ciminella, Jr., a marketing analyst for the horseracing industry. Judd's father is of Italian descent. Judd has a half-sister, Wynonna Judd, who is also a country music singer. At the time of her birth, her mother was working as a nurse, and did not become well-known as a singer along with her daughter Wynonna until the early 1980s. Judd's parents divorced in 1972, and in 1974, her mother took her back to her own native Kentucky, where Judd grew up.
Judd's mother raised her Baptist, and she attended twelve schools before college including Paul G. Blazer High School. She briefly tried modeling in Japan during school breaks. 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 was in the UK Honors Program and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, but did not graduate with her class, leaving university early to drive cross-country in pursuit of an acting career in Hollywood, where she studied with well-respected acting teacher, Robert Carnegie, at Playhouse West. During this time, she worked as a waitress at "The Ivy" restaurant and lived in a Malibu, California house her sister bought her, which burned down during the great Malibu fires. On May 9, 2007, it was announced that 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 that she had completed her degree requirements in 1990, but had mistakenly thought she was one class short. She only needed to "sign a piece of paper" in order to graduate. Ellen then surprised Judd by presenting her with her diploma, which Degeneres had acquired from the university.
Judd began acting on television, and appeared as Ensign Robin Lefler, a Starfleet officer, in two 1991 episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation. 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 in 1992's Kuffs, and had the starring role in 1993's independent film, Ruby in Paradise, for which she received good reviews. She also had a role in the 1994 Oliver Stone film Natural Born Killers, but her scenes were cut from the version of the film released theatrically. She gained further critical acclaim for her roles in 1995's Smoke and Heat. 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, although she did receive positive notices for her performance in the 2004 biography of Cole Porter, De-Lovely, opposite Kevin Kline. Judd's movie nude scenes, notably in "Norma Jean and Marilyn" and "A Normal Life" have drawn frequent criticism from her family's southern, conservative fan base.
She is currently the magazine advertising "face" of American Beauty, an Estee Lauder cosmetic brand sold exclusively at Kohl's department stores, and H. Stern jewelers. In June 2007, American family clothing retailer Goody's, announced that they were going to be releasing three fashion clothing lines with Judd in the Fall. The collections will be called to be called - AJ(TM), Love Ashley(TM) and Ashley Judd(TM). "I'm thrilled to be involved in a clothing line that provides simple, lovely solutions for women’s wardrobes," said Ashley Judd in a statement. "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".