No sad songs for her. No songs at all, as a matter of fact. The non-singing member of the Judd family, Ashley, has found her own destiny and she's not about to be distracted from it.
The younger sister of Wynonna and daughter of Naomi (who made up the singing Judds before Wynonna went solo) is starring in two movies that open on Friday (Oct. 3)."Kiss the Girls" is a sweaty-palmed thriller, co-starring Morgan Freeman, and "The Locusts" (not opening in Salt Lake City) is a sultry tale of country matters.
She cherishes her own interests, says Ashley, a phenomenally articulate and self-confident woman of 29.
"I think it had to do with the age at which the singing began in my family. I was in first grade and had already expressed a deep interest in books. When I was about 4 somebody read the `Chronicles of Narnia' to me. I was absolutely captivated by it and began to read voraciously from that point on. My sister sang. We had these individual, distinct interests. She did what she did and I did what I did and we went from there," she says.
In spite of her confidence, childhood couldn't have been much fun for Ashley with the preoccupation of her mother and sister on their career and the grueling hours on the road. She has said that she attended 12 different schools and moved frequently.
Though she's too facile to admit any impediment, she does confess that when she was a junior in high school, things were pretty difficult.
"It was chaotic. I was living with my dad in Lexington. He was having a hard time and not being a very present parent. I didn't tell anyone in the family because I didn't want to change my living situation," she says.
"I really loved the private school I was attending. Then I finally had to be a child essentially and say I need to be parented, need to live somewhere that's more stable and cohesive . . .
"I was a very independent, accomplished, outwardly strong kid. But I was put in the situation where a little too much was being required of me. I had trouble getting to school because I attended private school, which meant no buses. Asking for a ride to school every day became a ritual of humiliation. That was a really tough time and I don't really know what got me through it. I didn't have a very practicing faith at that time. I was endowed with the Christian structure of having attended church regularly and being taught scriptural lessons but don't remember practicing on a daily basis, so it was just grace and endurance that got me through that."
Strongly religious now, but in an egalitarian way, Ashley found the nurturing she was looking for with her grandparents.
Ashley's name has been romantically linked with the likes of Robert DeNiro, Matthew McConaughey and Michael Bolton. But she doesn't want to talk about romance.
"I think I would like to marry and have a family but that's another juncture at which my faith comes very strongly into play because I don't fret over it, don't ponder it excessively. I know I am meant - like we all are - to have a great life, to be filled with blessings and lessons and experience, and whatever happens along that path is exactly what it's supposed to be."
She's not talking predestination, she insists. "I have aspirations and desires, yeah, but I just trust that it's all there."
Once Judd she made up her mind to be an actress, it wasn't long before she was actually doing it. She earned her film debut following her first audition, and little roles grew into big ones.
Her first feature part, in "Ruby in Paradise," brought the critics to rapt attention, and Judd has just finished her sixth film back-to-back.