In 2012, actress Ashley Judd shook up the political spectrum when she hinted she was considering a run as the Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate seat in Kentucky occupied by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R).
She ended months of speculation in March 2013 via Twitter by saying her family took precedence over any political aspirations.
This isn’t the first time Judd’s opinions have made national headlines. She grew up in the public eye as part of the same family made famous by her mother, Naomi, and sister, Wynonna, also known as the singing tandem, The Judds.
Judd brings this varied background to her speaker engagement Jan. 29 as part of the 2014 Rancho Mirage Speaker Series at The Helen Galen Auditorium, Annenberg Center for Health Sciences at Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage.
Palm Springs Life caught up with Ashley Judd before her trip to the Coachella Valley.
Do you ever see yourself changing your mind and running for an elected office?
“I see myself staying in conscious contact with my higher power and saying, ‘Help me to do what it is you need and want me to do.’ It very much seemed that running for Senate was what that looked like. I was really surprised when that shift happened inside of me (to focus on family) and it became very clear why. Of course, my self-centered fear was that I would look like a flake, had been insincere, or had wasted people’s time. However, family opportunities arose that were very time specific and intensive. And I didn’t want to have regrets later in life that I had missed opportunities to be with people who won’t always be with me. So I was comfortable with my decision. I really invested in those relationships and have been blessed. And if it comes around again, I would certainly be willing.”
Do you find you might be able to accomplish more without holding an office?
“I think that all of us can be profoundly useful right where we are. You know the US Senate is a great place to make a difference, but I can also make a difference in my own home.”
Why is it important for you to speak out on issues?
“To not be complicit with the problem- I don’t think there is a neutral position.”
How do you respond to the people that you shouldn’t use the platform acting has given you to share your views?
“It’s none of my business what others think of me.”
What can we expect to hear you talk on?
“That’s always kind of up to God. I‘ve heard some really wonderful things about speaking because fundamentally its about humility and hopefully being a channel for higher power to move through group conscience and help me express at that given moment what people need to hear.
• There is always the story I plan
• The story I tell
• And the one that I wish I had told.
I have a special mentor said when he speaks he says, ‘God if I need to look like an idiot in order for someone here today to be helped, please help me willing to look like an idiot.’ So hopefully it will be about my experience, strength and hope. About what I used to be like, what happened, and what I’m like now. In particular, I often carry a message of how the co-dependent in the family isn’t perceived as the one who needs help or is a candidate for treatment or life change. But there is hope for us, too.”
You took a break from acting and took an active role in your humanitarian work. Did the result help your acting?
“Yes, definitely. I absolutely love acting. I did a film, Big Stone Gap, based on a best selling novel. Adriana (Trigiani) also directed it and she said, ‘I wrote this book for you in mind, always hoping it would be a movie someday.’ I forgot about it because life moved on and then…very quickly, it went from dream to picture. It was one of the purest acting experiences of my career – beautiful, delightful, rewarding and rich. I reconnected with my love for acting…period. Simply put, I love it and I’m enjoying working again.”
“Humanitarian work feeds my soul and anything feeding the soul is good for my acting. Whether it’s having a cup of tea with my friends or spending time in brothels or a month in a forcibly displaced persons camp in Eastern Congo…an early acting teacher taught me that. To wander around our communities and world and figure what moved us. I also think the resiliency I’ve seen and how human spirit can remain centered is a beautiful part of the work.”
Would you say you’re comfortable with where your acting career is at or would you rather move to the other side of the camera and direct?
“Yes, I love acting but I think I absolutely will direct someday. It’s a matter of time and the right material. I’ve had a couple things in mind and right now it’s just about committing the time.”
Have you ever been to the Palm Springs Area?
“Yes I have. It’s a beautiful and charming area. I’ve really enjoyed it when I’ve visited. I love the history and the Hollywood part of history about everyone who has come to town. Great architecture. Great food. Great recovery.”