Ashley Judd, born Ashley Tyler Ciminella, was born in Granada Hills, California and grew up moving around frequently, mostly in the Kentucky/Tennessee area.
Judd is a devout Christian. She was raised a Baptist and faith was a big part of her upbringing. She said, indicating that she has decided to continue being a Baptist:
[I am a] lifelong Christian, a person who was raised in churches and went to Sunday school. And I still choose the God of my understanding as the God of my childhood.
When Judd is in New York, she attends a Manhattan Baptist church, so she's sticking with it.
But it certainly isn't that simple. Judd's conception of divinity and her role in the universe is clearly something she's given a lot of thought to. Her real religious awakening came thanks to the combination of depression therapy and the writings of New Age guru Eckhart Tolle. It was this battle with her own demons that gave Judd the perspective needed to find her own brand of spirituality. She said:
I like to make a distinction between religion and spirituality and something I've heard is 'Religion is for people who fear hell, and spirituality is for people who have been there.'
And at times, she sounds pantheistic:
I have to expand my God concept from time to time. Particularly I enjoy Native [American] faith practices and have a very nature-based God concept.
Judd is certainly not easy to categorize. She dances to the beat of her own drum, shall we say.
Social activism and politics
Judd has called herself a feminist and much of her humanitarian work revolves around women, children and AIDS prevention and awareness. She has traveled to many a far-flung locale to battle the disease, as well as address poverty, oppression and all manner of suffering. In 2005, Judd addressed the U.S. Congress on behalf of the organization YouthAids. This is but a small slice of her efforts. Suffice it to say, social activism is clearly central in her life. Take a look at her Twitter Feed. It's brimming with pro-women messages, political blurbs and hopeful mini-diatribes.
In the realm of U.S. politics, she's a Democrat. She has campaigned for Obama, both in 2008 and 2012. She said:
[Obama] embodies American values and because he has a policy and vision that actually works for regenerating our middle class and growing it from the middle class out instead of from the top down and proposing the same failed policies that got us into economic collapse in the first place.
And the rape/contraceptive/abortion rhetoric that plagued the Republican Party during the 2012 elections really got Judd up-in-arms. She called Rick Santorum "the bad guy" and booed and hissed a clip of him talking about contraception during a television interview. And when Obama won the election, she tweeted this gem:
Thank God! "@anildash: Bad night for the pro-rapist senate candidates. Go figure."
Not quite sure I understand that, though, as Republicans held their majority in the House that year.
You get the picture. Liberal Democrat through and through.