April 19 ~  A Gift and a Purpose Judds: True Story

"I was always told I was special. And I was also assured that I had a gift and a purpose." ~ Ashley Judd

Ashley Judd

Someone very special, actress Ashley Tyler Judd Ciminella (1968-) was born on this day in Los Angeles, California and named after Ashland, Kentucky.

The youngest daughter of entertainer Naomi Judd, Ashley was raised on the Judd's concert tours and attended 12 schools in as many years. A passionate vegetarian, she majored in French at the University of Kentucky and speaks the language fluently.

"I learned about celebrity and hard work at an early age," Ashley said. "It taught me how to handle my own celebrity. I try to inoculate myself against the disease of grandeur and self-importance."

The role as the saucy, but strong character Reid Halsey in TV's Sisters (1991-1994) launched her successful acting career. Co-star Swoozie Kurtz said of Judd: "I was amazed at how well she carried herself. She has always been wise beyond her years."

Judd moved to the big screen, winning a prestigious Independent Spirit Award for her title role in Ruby in Paradise (1994). Critic Roger Ebert called the film "breathtaking" and praised Judd's performance as one of the year's best.

Starring with Morgan Freeman in the thriller Kiss The Girls (1997), Judd shone as a skilled actor. She held her own with Robert DeNiro in Heat (1995) and lobbied hard for the change-of-pace role in the romantic comedy Someone Like You (2001).

"I enjoy critical acclaim," she said. "But in regard to what I've seen (fame) do to others... my position is to just live my life."

She married race car driver Dario Franchitti in 2001. "I enjoy being married," she said. "We feel very blessed and we're having a great time."

Named one of the 50 Most Beautiful People by People magazine (2002), Judd has been involved in grassroots and international organizations and advocated for the prevention of HIV/AIDS and malaria. About her humanitarian commitments, she said, "My life cannot be made up exclusively of films...I would die on the vine."

Of course, you are VERY special.