Ashley Judd, this year's Women's Fund Keyholder headliner, on Graeter's and her Ivy League schooling
You know her as an actress who has wowed in films from A Time to Kill to Double Jeopardy. But Ashley Judd is far more: Harvard grad, human rights activist, author, survivor (her memoir, All That Is Bitter and Sweet, details her dysfunctional upbringing, battle with depression and worldwide aid efforts).
While splitting time between her homes in Kentucky and Tennessee, Judd, 45, is promoting her new movie, Divergent, and planning a trip to Columbus, where she will headline this year's Women's Fund Keyholder event May 1. We talked with her about Ivy League schooling, Graeter's and more. Here are highlights.
You took a break from acting in 2010 to earn a degree from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. What was it like?
It was utterly sublime. I loved every minute of graduate school, and I thought I would go straight into a PhD program, I was so euphoric about education. But I decided that maybe I should pause and go back into the international space and see how my degree could be put to use and how it might enhance my social justice human rights work. (At Harvard) I found people who were like-minded and kindred spirits. I hadn't expected Harvard to be a nurturing place, but it was a very loving, very supportive place. And people were unabashedly determined to change the world.
You've done a lot of programming work in garment factories. Why?
We can reach lots of girls and women at once, and they're quite a vulnerable population. And we can identify dynamic, outgoing folks with personality who have some power with their peers, and empower them, and then allow them to be the leaders-allow them to be the peers who impact their peers with lifesaving information.
What is the greatest challenge women worldwide face today?
There are so many insertion points that give girls and women a foothold from which they can begin to improve their circumstances. Point-of-use water purification (is one). Obviously protecting the girl's and woman's reproductive health and helping her plan the births of her children and space the births of her children. Helping the girl stay in school when she has the onset of her menses [somewhere to handle her personal hygiene].
What is the greatest challenge you face?
Consistently getting enough sleep. I need 10-and-a-half hours of sleep at night, and sometimes that shocks people. And I can allow their shock to make me feel self-indulgent, or that there's something wrong with that. But that's my set point, and by every form of experimentation over the years, I've tried to make that different, and I can't. Just remembering that my life is amazing and I still fundamentally need what I need and nobody can take care of me except for me.
You've battled depression since childhood. One of the ways you keep a handle on it now is by hiking in the Smoky Mountains, because it's something you just really like to do. What else do you enjoy?
I just have been trying a lot of new things in the past year, really. Some friends of mine said, "You have to go to Zumba, it is so much fun." I joined the Y so I could go to Zumba.
So you seriously just walk into the Y's Zumba class? Are people amazed?
I stand next to the same people every week. We have so much fun!
You can invite three Hollywood friends to dinner. Who's coming?
Salma Hayek. Ellen Burstyn. And Vanessa Redgrave. Because they're creative geniuses.
Lastly, I hear Graeter's Ice Cream is your favorite treat, yes?
Black raspberry chocolate chip. I host a picnic every week. My crowd comes over every single week, and if it's warm, we do a picnic, and if it's cold, obviously we're inside. And one week, I forgot to replenish my black raspberry chip supply. And despite my monstrative generosity, I got heckled at my house. There was a revolt!