Hollywood actress Ashley Judd experiences a tough childhood. She’s distant from her family, constantly moving, and always under the shadow of her famous Western singer half-sister, Wynonna Judd. She spends 11 years in marriage to race-car driving husband Dario Franchitti. It can’t rekindle the spark of love despite her best efforts.
Today, Ashley Judd has made good on a tragic past. She is now as renowned for her activism as she is for her acting. She praises for standing up for victims of sexual abuse, including herself. She’s making a rapid recovery from her life-threatening February 2021 accident in the Congolese rainforest.
Keep watching to take a deep dive into the life of this complicated Hollywood star.
Ashley Judd’s Childhood Was Tough
In her memoir, which was aptly called All That Is Bitter And Sweet, Judd gave her fans a glimpse into her troubled past. As a small child, she dealt with abuse and loneliness that many of us couldn’t even imagine. She was in and out of different schools right up to the age of eighteen. Her family moved a lot because her mother, Naomi Judd, was a celebrated country singer. Part of a duet with Judd’s sister, Wynonna Judd, the famous singing duo kept the family moving from one venue to the next. Sadly, left alone with her father much of the time, Ashley Judd experienced numerous childhood abuse incidents by men, including once from a family member.
Ashley Judd Experienced Sibling Rivalry
Ashley Judd has an older half-sister, Wynnona Judd, who is an award-winning country singer. She spends much of her childhood in her shadow, and it seems resentment has brewed between them ever since–despite Ashely’s later success as an actress. As reported by US Weekly, the spitefulness came to a head in 2013 when Ashley openly accused her sister of planting a spy device in her car. She went straight to the police, who confirmed it was a tracking device. While Wynnona Judd never made a formal comment on the situation, it’s apparent trouble had been brewing for a while. Wynnona didn’t even invite her sister to her 2012 wedding.
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She Couldn’t Save Her Marriage
She might be one of the most beautiful and talented actresses of our age, but sadly, she doesn’t have as much success in the marriage department. After 11 years with her race-car driving husband, Dario Franchitti (they married in 2001), things started to go off track. In 2013, the couple announced their decision to separate amicably. In the same year, Franchitti was in a disastrous car accident, which led the couple to give their union one more shot. However, though they both tried hard to make it work again, the couple officially split for good. Not long after, Franchitti met the love of his life, Eleanor Robb, marrying her just one year later in 2014. A slap in the face for Judd? It seems not because she says they remain friends.
She’s Been Bullied Online
While it’s unlikely that Ashley Judd has had plastic surgery, that doesn’t stop the trolls from harassing her with fictional accounts of her time under the knife. In 2012, she became ill and was prescribed steroids. The media jumped on photos of her, accusing her of having plastic surgery to change her looks. And in 2020, a photo of her shared by Sen. Elizabeth Warren drew similar accusations from fans and foes alike. Judd regularly fights back against these vicious rumors, calling them misogynistic and body-shaming. “Who makes the fantastical leap from being sick or gaining some weight to a conclusion of plastic surgery,” she says incredulously.
Ashley Judd Has Battled With Depression
Not one to shy away from the critical issues, Ashley Judd has been nothing but open about her past battles with depression. In 2006, the actress was forced to get professional help to deal with her mental health issues. “I needed help,” she told People. “I was in so much pain.” Her turbulent childhood had left her with a lot of battle wounds. She ended up staying almost 50 days in a rehabilitation center in Texas and said the treatment she received there saved her sanity. Even her roughest days now are better than her best days before treatment, she said.
She’s a Victim of Sexual Assault
As a three-time rape survivor, Ashley Judd has never been one to shy away from speaking up about abuse. She openly accused film producer Harvey Weinstein of harassment during work projects, stating that she spoke up, so no one else has to go through what she went through ever again. She’s also passionately pro-choice: “One of the times I was raped, there was a conception, and I’m very thankful I was able to access safe and legal abortion.” The other alternative, co-parenting with her attacker, was a horrifying option she wouldn’t want anyone to experience. Because of her bravery, Judd is seen as a shining light of support for victims of abuse.
Harvey Weinstein Tried to End Her Career
Ashley Judd was not shy to discuss all how convicted sexual assaulter Harvey Weinstein tried to destroy her career. Every time she denied his advances, he would go out of his way to make it close to impossible for her to succeed professionally. “As my experience and the experience of others shows, even a few false statements from Mr. Weinstein could destroy potentially career-changing professional opportunities,” she says of her past interactions with the film producer. She continued to say that it’s critical Weinstein is punished to the full extent of the law for his crimes.
Ashley Judd Almost Lost Her Legs
In February 2021, Judd was on a research trip trying to locate bonobos in the Congolese jungle. The actress, author, and humanitarian worker suffered a severe fall that left her without the use of her legs. She had to wait a painful five hours before being rescued, all the while losing a critical amount of blood. She was eventually rescued and carried out of the jungle on a stretcher. Altogether, from the fall to her eventual hospitalization, Judd endured an incredible 55 hours of pain and nearly lost the use of her legs. By the sounds of things, she was lucky she didn’t lose her life!
She Suffers From Chronic Pain
Believe it or not, but Ashley Judd resorted to the use of Botox to cure her debilitating migraines and chronic pain. According to the actress, the treatment was recommended as “standard” for the type of pain she was experiencing, and her insurance even covered it. When she was in the middle of her chronic episodes, she tended to put on more weight, though it didn’t bother her despite some nasty comments from the media and fans. The words, she said, were ridiculous and based on outdated “gendered norms.” Given Judd’s exposure to criticism over the years, the empowered actress says she now brushes off gossip as much as she does compliments.
She Tried But Failed to Enter Politics
Tired of being seen as simply an actress, Ashley Judd attempted to enter the political arena in 2014. According to the Huffington Post, she felt compelled to try to run for a spot in the U.S. Senate, despite naysayers saying she wasn’t a good fit for the role because she was too liberal. While she garnered support for her run from Democratic Rep. John Yarmuth and even former President Barack Obama, she couldn’t convince the people that mattered that she had enough experience for the role. Commentators at the time said she’d need to grow deeper roots in Kentucky if she wanted to find success.
Ashley Judd is Tired of Being Misunderstood
Over the years, Ashley Judd has often been misunderstood by the public. She’s not shy to speak her mind, and her activist actions can sometimes get her into hot water. In one instance, people criticized her for the stance that sex work should be legal for those that sell it but illegal for those that buy it. Her opinions grew criticism from the sex workers, who stated she was spreading misinformation about the industry. She is also a strong supporter of Demand Abolition, which works to end sex work altogether. Some people believe the organization’s views would make it more dangerous for sex workers, not less.
She Lost the Dog That Saved Her Life
Ashley Judd’s emotional support dog, Shug, went everything with her. Her friendly pup accompanied her to the airport, while shopping, and even on movie sets. One event that epitomizes why Shug was so special was when the dog saved the life of a man about to commit suicide. “I was writing my suicide note when your dog came up and just there with me, just being present and reminding me of my value,” he told Judd after the encounter. Judd and the man still kept in touch following his recovery. Judd was beyond heartbroken when Shug passed away, saying that she learned empathy and the value of listening from the diligent doggo.
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