Actress Ashley Judd, who’s mulling a 2014 bid for the U.S. Senate against Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, largely miffed an opportunity to prove herself on the national political stage Friday.
Judd gave a speech on public health, followed by an audience question and answer session, at George Washington University’s School of Public Health and Health Services in the Foggy Bottom area of Washington, D.C. The event was Judd’s first real political trial balloon ahead of a rumored 2014 Democratic U.S. Senate bid in Kentucky – and she flopped.
During her speech, Judd described her initial decision to enter the Hollywood acting world over the activism world.
“I went to the other jungle: Hollywood,” Judd said to the audience of about 150 students. “There, I had instantaneous success much to my own – what would the word be? – I wouldn’t even say surprise because I didn’t even know it was success until I looked back on it last year. It just all happened so very fast.”
“I remember when I was going [to Hollywood], I was talking to a family friend, and I was still frightened,” Judd continued. “Amazingly, I was raised with someone who has the greatest voice of her generation in our own home yet I didn’t have a lot of stage education. I didn’t know what it meant to be an actor. So, I was scared. I was nervous. I was talking to this family friend and said, ‘you know, I’m still going to do a lot of service, I’m still going to help advocate that women need access to medically accurate sex education and have access to a full basket of family planning choices that are right for them.’ I went on to list the other things I was going to do and he said, ‘do you want to be an actor or do you want to save the world?’”
“In 2002, I was really sick and tired of being sick and tired,” Judd added. “I didn’t know what was wrong. I knew that I was just – something wasn’t quite right. At that time, it turns out, and I didn’t even know this, I was one of the highest paid women in the history of Hollywood.”
After admitting she is a card carrying member of the “One Percent,” the Americans Democrats routinely demonize, Judd went on to flub comment after comment throughout the rest of the event.
When she was describing how she “got sick and tired of my own pity for myself,” Judd struggled to pronounce the word “periphery” correctly.
Judd then name-dropped Bono.
“That very same day I got a call from Bono,” Judd said of the day an AIDS group asked her to help push their message. “No talk is ever complete without talking about Bono.”
“He’s amazing,” Judd said of Bono. “He’s the real deal.”
The actress went to explain how she determined “why women and girls end up in brothels,” telling the student audience that “baseline” it was “gender inequality.”
When Judd opened the floor up for questions, her struggles intensified. When asked by the dean of the college if she had advice for the community, Judd let the place know how wonderfully she thought of herself. “You know have no idea how much advice I have,” she said.
“I can’t wait to hear from the College Republicans,” Judd joked at another point, before any students asked her a question.
The first student questioner, a young woman who made sure to point out she was a Democrat, asked Judd to define “feminism.” Judd tackled it the best she could, after noting how “it’s really very simple.”
“We could spend the rest of the day talking about this,” Judd said. “We were all made in the image and likeness of our Creator. We’re all sacred, and we’re here to love each other and be equal. It’s very simple.”
As a second young woman wrapped up her question of Judd, the actress stopped paying attention. “Huh, I’m sorry, I was giving my mother eye kisses,” Judd said. Judd’s mother, Naomi Judd, was in the audience.
The dean was forced to re-ask the young woman’s question so Judd could answer it.
When asked about what role “faith” plays in her initiatives, Judd said “I’m just a surrogate for the people doing the grassroots work.”
“What I had to do was find a faith that would work for me under all causes and conditions,” Judd said. “In forcibly displaced persons camps, in child abuse children, in emergency rooms, in a brothel, in a labor slave camp, in an orphanage. You know how hard it is to walk out of an orphanage? My hands tingle. You feel the weight of the babies coming up behind.”
“Or to sit in a slum and see two sisters who are orphaned ask me to bring them home to America, because America is the place where dreams come true? Later I found out they rehearsed it because they so wanted to come home to America with me. That’s a depth for me, a spiritual depth.”
Another student asked her about garbage initiatives around the world. The student said she worked in India for a little while recently, and “the amount of garbage … I just could not get over it.”
“My question is how to we get anyone to care about their health when the first thing they probably need to care about is the dump of trash in front of their house or their slum, and that they don’t have running water?” the student asked Judd. “To me, that seems like the base…. I’m just wondering from what you’ve seen in your travels what your thoughts are on that.”
Judd used a homespun saying in her tortured response.
“My thought is that you found your pig,” Judd responded. “You should stick with your pig. What I mean by ‘pig’ is we all have to find the thing that makes us mad and the thing that gives us the fire in the belly and the passion and the stamina to stick with it. The ‘pig thing’ comes another good Eastern Kentuckian, my godmother. It was heavy-handed in my face.”
In trying to further explain the “pig” reference, Judd said “it became a slogan for this is ‘my thing.’”
“It sounds like garbage has become your thing,” Judd told the student questioner. “Go with it. And I agree with you about the garbage.’”