Ashley Judd to speak at Victim Rights Law Center

Actress Ashley Judd at the United Nations in March 2012. (Photo by Dario Cantatore/Getty Images)
Actress Ashley Judd at the United Nations in March 2012. (Photo by Dario Cantatore/Getty Images)Credit:

Talking to actress Ashley Judd can be disorienting. Instead of movies or even music — her mom is country singer Naomi Judd and her half-sister is Wynonna Judd — it’s clear Ashley would prefer to talk about, say, global poverty or gender equality. In other words, she is not your ordinary Hollywood starlet. “I love being creative,” Judd says, referring to a movie career that includes “Ruby in Paradise,” “Heat,” and “High Crimes.” “But I want to do public service and I don’t want to have to choose. I am who I am, and that’s someone who’s complex and multifaceted.” Thursday, Judd will be in town to speak at the 10th anniversary of the Victim Rights Law Center, the Boston-based nonprofit devoted to the legal needs of sexual assault victims. It’s an agency she discovered while studying at Harvard a few years ago. “I always intended to go to grad school. The question was simply when,” says Judd. “The original plan, as a young person, was to go to the Peace Corps and then come back and go to grad school.” But she bailed on the Peace Corps and took her talents to Tinseltown. “It all happened too fast,” she says. “Now, it’s like, ‘Gee willikers, what a trajectory that was.’ ” Judd got a master’s degree in public administration from Harvard, and she’d like to return to get a PhD. “It was like drinking from a firehose,” she says. “I was with people who were not embarrassed to say they’d like to change the world.” But life has intervened. Earlier this year, Judd and her husband, race car driver Dario Franchitti, separated, and she briefly considered running against Mitch McConnell, the Republican senator from her home state of Kentucky. “I care a lot about the world in which I live, and I want to be of maximum service to my fellows,” she says, not ruling out a political run in the future. In the meantime, she’s prepping for her talk at the Victim Rights Law Center soiree. “I can’t wait,” she says. “It’s an under-celebrated gem.” Also expected to attend are political commentator Susan Estrich, congresswoman Niki Tsongas, Brandeis professor Anita Hill, Mass. first lady Diane Patrick, and AG Martha Coakley.