Originally born to Michael and Diana Ciminella, who was 17 at the time. They had married due to the unplanned pregnancy that resulted in daughter Christina (Wynonna). The twist in the story was of Christina's paternity, which they learned years later. She/Ashley regales her family history and the generational troubles they endured. It was a blind date w/ friends that Michael Ciminella met a 14-yr-old across the street, neighbor and friend, Diana Judd. Diana claimed to never have loved Michael, but was impressed by the comfortable lifestyle suited by the Ciminella family. The Judd family history itself was strange.
In the summer of 1963, after it was revealed that Diana's brother was diagnosed w/ a deadly form of Hodgkin's Lymphoma, they were in OH and Diana stayed behind. She stayed due to starting as a high school senior. It was also the first time that Diana was left alone in the house w/ a boy she had been dating, Charlie Jordon. That first time w/ Charlie resulted in pregnancy. Diana, it seemed in a state of despair & urgency, determined that Michael Ciminella was the baby's father. Once she set this story in motion, Diana committed to it completely. On January 3, 1964 Diana Judd and Michael Ciminella were married in a sad ceremony in VA. It was regarded as a shameful occasion. Diana stayed w/ the Ciminella's while Michael stayed in school in Lexington. Diana was a scandalously knocked up teen living w/ adults she barely knew. Knowing their son was not really the father of her baby.
Christina Claire Ciminella was born on 5-30-64. After several months of living together and more experience, Michael began to wonder if Christina was really his daughter. He couldn't really remember when he figured it out, but it didn't really matter to him. He loved/accepted Christina as his own. After a job promotion in 1967, they uprooted to California. Diana was pregnant shortly after. The following April, Ashley was born. Christina thought Ashley was a gift just for her. After about a year or so, the marriage between Diana and Michael began to deteriorate. Diana was working as a model and a secretary part-time w/ hopes of somehow breaking into showbiz. When things went south for Diana & Michael, their divorce finalized in 1974.
|Diana & her daughters|
It was clear at an early age that Christina had a musical gift. Ashley loved her big sister madly through the picking and the tickling. Christina was Ashley's protector. Ashley felt at a young age that singing w/ her mother & sister, crazily singing off-key, she was being laughed at. She was hurt real bad by it and never sang again. That was initiative enough for her. Right before entering first grade and Diana's Hollywood dreams weren't working out, Diana headed back to Kentucky to study for a nursing degree. Even though Diana never stayed in one place, Ashley between the ages of 5-to-18, bounced from LA to Kentucky, to Northern California and back. She would be left and be passed around by others, sometimes for days at a time or to another relative without warning. Ashley felt like an outsider watching her mom follow her dreams. She would wait and watch for her mom's attention - but it never came.
Mostly they fought. Michael, their dad, wanted to spend more time w/ Ashley & Christina. But their mom wanted to drive him away from home. When she couldn't stand it anymore, Diana moved out. The next summer, after still living w/ their grandparents, Diana swooped up and picked up her daughters. Because Diana was always busy w/ school, Ashley was always by herself or making up her own friends. When Diana was home from school, leaving Ashley to learn on her own. This was the same time that Diana & Christina began to fool around w/ singing and learning music. In sixth grade, Christina flourished and practiced on the guitar and piano. When their mom was at school, Christina would be practicing. Diana would go to school during the day and worked as a waitress at night. When it came to their dad, other than a figure their mother hated, he disappeared from their lives.
Around this time, Diana & Christina were serious about becoming a musical duo. Christina just felt peace w/ a guitar in her hands. Diana had bigger dreams and needed Christina's cooperation. Whenever they were together in music, it was as it DO NOT DISTURB us Ashley. "She was a stranger in he own family." Ashley does have a love of the GENUINE outdoors and animals. Her animals gave her what her parents had been able to be sustained from her childhood - the invaluable feeling of being the center of somebody's world. Ashley shares that she has chosen to not have kids when there are children who are already here that need time, love, attention and care. Ashley's first bout w/ depression began at age 8. She would lie in bed for days on end. No one seemed to notice. Anxiety and insomnia and more occurred before she realized it was depression throughout her life. She had just finished 'A Time To Kill' and went straight into 'Norma Jean And Marilyn' as well as 'Kiss The Girls'.
After the house she had been renting in Malibu burned to the ground, Ashley stayed w/ her mom, pop or at Sisters/Christina's. Ashley's mild depression came from unresolved childhood grief. Sometimes in a deep sleep, emotions would flood unexpectedly. Releasing all the pent-up sadness. Ashley was staying w/ her mom a few times. After she needed to get the advised help, Ashley moved out of her moms and slowly she began to heal.
Thanks to the moving around when she was growing up, Ashley was unevenly educated when she arrived in college. She attacked academic life in a way that viscerally sparked her. She felt a happiness for the first time living away from home & family. Ashley joined every progressive cause she could, led campus wide walk-outs protesting a university trustees use of a racial epithet. The life of services that Ashley devotes herself to, without intention, helped heal the wounds of her own childhood. When Ashley graduated from her honor's program in 1990, she didn't think it was odd that she had NO guests in attendance; but was surprised to see other kids' families there. In the same year, Ashley was torn between spending the next 2 yrs in Africa as a missionary or filling the same deeper impulse to act. Acting helped her survive and it enriched her life. At 22, if she didn't give acting a try, she feared it would be something she regretted her whole life.
After 3 days of arriving in LA, Ashley was enrolled at the Playhouse West Acting School, Ashley began to audition and got work immediately under a show that allowed her to join SAG (Screen Actors Guild). Next was a role on NBC's Sisters w/ Swoozie Kurtz. In driving from Tennessee, Georgia & Alabama, Ashley had taken one lane country roads and was witness to poverty that SHOCKED her. The type of poverty and people she only thought lived in books. After Ruby in 1993, before she knew it, being a working actor & movie star was normal. After she had established herself as an actress, Ashley felt she had abandoned herself from the person she was at 22. But she found the way to get there.
When Ashley received a letter to become a YouthAIDS ambassador, she realized the help she could be doing and did her research. After she had done her work, she became affluent in what is known today as the ONE Campaign. After a GRUELING day and ready to collapse from exhaustion, after a snafu with the water temperature for a shower, Ashley had an epiphany realizing those that DON'T have safe water and began to feel grateful. That was when she accepted the offer to work w/ the ONE Campaign. After a GRUELING day and ready to collapse from exhaustion, after a snafu w/ the water temperature in the shower, Ashley had an epiphany Realizing those that DON'T have safe water and began feel grateful. That was when she accepted the offer to work for the ONE Campaign.
Ashley's itinerary after arriving in Cambodia was to visit several meetings and places to learn intensively about HIV and other preventable diseases and effective grass-root remedies and share them w/ the world. After she learned of the treatment on Cambodia and the torture that Cambodians went through was stunning. Emotional flooding caused her to break down a few times. The violence & torture was one o bring a tear to your eye. That was why Ashley fights so hard for HIV/AIDS prevention after hearing these stories. Ashley sent a positive message from her trip to Thailand, "If a famous woman isn't afraid of catching HIV from AIDS patients, you shouldn't be either."
Throughout this trip and all of the emotional HELL this put her through, Ashley needed a spiritual rejuvenation in faith. The heat had done her in as well as the trip being too emotional and too intense. By this time, Ashley was a full-blown evangelist for PSI (Public Service Informer) emphasis on prevention of HIV/AIDS.
Ashley's mentor is Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Meeting him was the emotional tug that she needed. After a deeply profound conversation w/ the Archbishop, he told her a story w/ an underlining lesson that she picked up on. Ashley was really GRATEFUL for the experience w/ her mentor, hero & friend. After 20 days, Ashley was due to come home.
Ashley's film career was thriving. She was frustrated w/ filming both 'Bug' and 'Come Early Morning' due to assistant problems. Many problems from her depression resulted in her childhood and her family's history in the context of her adult perplexities. Something she realized she never looked at before. With a therapist, Ted, she began to revisit her childhood and reassess the messages given to her by her family while she was growing up that have shaped who she is. Something else Ashley began working on was her relationship w/ her father. Although it was uneasy, there was so much unacknowledged pain, loss & grief around their relationship. Being vulnerable w/ him was COMPLETELY overwhelming.
For the FIRST time, Ashley was able to tell her dad what growing up was like for her. After she had told him EVERYTHING, from being left alone as a kid- to-his behavior when they were together - EVERYTHING, he took it in - occasionally giving observations and more. He validated ALOT of things. He really gave her a BIG gift. Ashley was being taught ways to let go of reactions to those who had done damage to her. Although the process took time, Ashley went from keeping her dad at arm's length to becoming her father's daughter again.
Ashley was in her 30s before she was fully able to take in both sides of her parents story of the girls' growing up, evaluate it and come to her own conclusions. With every truth she was hearing, Ashley was plagued by physical emotions that confirmed what was said. Breaking into the entertainment business was really Diana's obsession. After managing to meet Merle Haggard at a concert backstage in the parking lot, Christina & Diana ended up traveling w/ him for the next few days. Ashley was left home alone during that time. Ashley would hear stories all the time about her mom and sister out in LA. When she was staying w/ her grandmother, Ashley was told she would be staying w/ her dad, whom, at this point, she hadn't seen in years.
|Wynonna & Naomi|
In 1979, Naomi & Wynonna settled in Nashville. At this point, Ashley's parents agreed to share custody changing during alternative years. When Ashley's grandfather died, it did help knowing that she was wanted in her grandparents' care. Naomi took nursing jobs to pay the rent, eventually settling into a 3:00-11:00p shift. Wynonna & Ashley would bond over the shared neglect they had from their mom. One day a print ad producer from New York City knocked on her door and wanted to use the property of the house in an ad. He had encouraged Ashley to model in competitions in NY.
When an old friend of Ashley's parents had heard of this opportunity, she had sort of been a godsend to Ashley and saved Ashley from her lonely life. She had offered to to pay for Ashley's trip accompany her to NY. Because of her legal name when she got there, Ashley Ciminella, agencies were expecting Ashley Judd, which confused everyone. Naomi & Wynonna's manager had told Ashley that she legally needed to change her name to Judd for contractual reasons. After an incident that led to living w/ 2 girls who were very protective of Ashley and were fun, they were relieved to send Ashley home to Tennessee and resume school. When she got home, Ashley found that modeling wasn't for her. She collapsed into a NEEDED hug when she was met by Piper, an old friend of her mother's.
Wynonna & Naomi released their first album in 1983. When Ashley was in the eleventh grade and sick of her life alone and always in trouble w/ her absent mom, she called her dad and asked to officially live w/ him. She had had enough. When she was w/ dad, things weren't much better. A next door neighbor who could tell she was the daughter of an addict. She would look out for Ashley and care for her. Ashley's dad, Michael's, drug disease was worsening. He was in a mode of rage about the girls' mom when he confessed to Ashley about Christina's paternity. Ashley was shocked - She had no idea. After that EVERYTHING from past-to-present made sense. After SPILLING EVERYTHING to Naomi & Wynonna's manager and hearing something was wrong, Ashley was sent to live w/ her grandmother. After that, Ashley dad didn't take it so well, in fact, throwing himself out of her life for good.
When Ashley moved in w/ her grandmother, she received everything she ever dreamed of: a stable and loving home. She went from nearly failing school to finishing the top 10 in her school. Even though Ashley and dad remained estranged for years, the Judds rocketed to stardom in her college years. Ashley loved attending her mother/sister's shows. It was at a therapist's office that all 3 girls, Wynonna, Naomi & Ashley, went b/c Naomi seemed to keep holding the truth. Ashley went and told Wynonna the truth about her paternity. All of this circulated due to a FALSE, but still out there, according of Naomi's biography. Naomi cried & buried her face in Wynonna's lap.
When Ashley's went to visit sister at the Shades Of Hope Rehab, Ashley was given a suggestion by an employee, write her mother a letter w/ her non-dominate hand and it was like it was written by her 2-yr-old self. EVERYTHING poured out. From the she did when she was a kid. The rehab began to work w/ Ashley as well as her own problems. Whenever pent-up feelings Ashley was having began to alleviate the body. At the end of Wynonna's treatment, Ashley was asked to stay to work on her own pent-up problems. She stayed there to work on the Lost Child behind.
When Ashley announced she was receiving help, others seen it as about time while some started planning her treatment itinerary. The faculty staff itself had weird rules. As Wynonna went to give her baby sister, Ashley, a big hug after her first day, Ashley was cracking and becoming undone. After a night without sleep, Ashley faced what she was so afraid of - losing her mind. After she had confronted that, she worked her hardest on her treatment plan in her allotted time. When someone else in her group therapy would tell their story, Ashley's emotions let it go. She could begin to feel and cry. She began to cause/effect from her childhood. The basic steps used for alcoholics w/o her being one could be of the same value and become revolutionary. Ashley turned EVERY emotion and struggle faced over as in recovery to a higher power. It has worked REMARKABLY for her ever since.
Something remarkable that did happen involving a teabag mad Ashley feel to laugh, along w/ the group in therapy, and NOT feel laughed at. Everyone could see the change in her. The faculty was leading Ashley to only a process and journey that was safe for her to finally do so. It was all about control.
Ashley began to put herself to doing good will and effected herself and began to sleep again. She came to find that she didn't need approval, permission or forgiveness from anyone. Throughout Ashley's progress, she felt important in the life of her family for the FIRST time. She had compounded ALOT during her family week at the treatment facility. Before her release, Ashley had written a good-bye letter to her depression.
When Ashley was well enough, she met w/ Salma Hayek on a trip to Guatemala and more traveling as a YouthAIDS ambassador. A year after getting treatment, Ashley felt prepared to take on a trip to India. The reasons Ashley does this is because as an empowering adult, she knows that she is nurturing and loving the lost, little child inside of her. Even w/ all the good work she was accomplishing around the world, she felt there was more to do and never enough. During these trips, Ashley was known as "the Vanna White of condoms". Throughout this journey and 11 countries, Ashley gave herself a break and visited a sanctuary she'd heard about. She was grateful that the countries she visited w/ great challenges, her work, as well as PSI put her on the right side of history. Ashley's faith, hope & core was renewed.
After all the time Ashley had spent in these countries, coming home to the U.S. was a culture shock. She went to see a psychologist because she was still feeling very sick. During the appointment, the dam broke and Ashley couldn't stop crying. The old feelings began to creep up. A jump into a cold creek while on a walk w/ her husband, Dario Franchetti watching, an internal click came that assured Ashley that she would be okay.
Ashley had always wanted to go to graduate school. After talking it over w/ someone, it was suggested that Ashley attended Harvard. When it came time to apply, she received shocking help from her dad. Since the family week at Shades Of Hope, Ashley and her dad had gotten close. After clearing her schedule around, she moved to Cambridge for the year.
After one film to dip her toe back into acting, a movie came along 'Tooth Fairy'. After that, other projects would have to wait until after graduation from Harvard. While she in math class, it was the most intimidating thing she'd done in her life. Problems from the past would creep up. Different ones this time. Problems/snags you were hit with 20 years ago in school (ex.- reading/math) were still here today. Ashley's was algebra. (Something ALOT of people can relate to!) A few days later, Ashley's schoolwork was returned to her. It was handed back w/ A's. She had managed to conquer what she hadn't been able in school as a kid - high school math. On her own. Ashley had a series of unfortunate encounters w/ being sick. A verified case of H1N1, followed by flu/sinus infections. When Ashley's dad, Michael, came she took full advantage of his care for her. Ashley officially graduated from Harvard Kennedy School in My 2010.