'Missing's' Ashley Judd recalls her 'remarkable' first date with TV

zap-phot-judd-portrait-420.jpg Ashley Judd, about to star in her own series, remembers the lessons her first television job taught her.

Now the owner of a Masters degree in public administration from Harvard University, the actress plays a woman who crosses Europe in search of her kidnapped son on ABC's "Missing," premiering Thursday, March 15. It's Judd's first continuing home-screen role since she played Swoosie Kurtz's daughter Reed on the NBC drama "Sisters" in the early 1990s, an experience she recalls fondly.

"That was a wonderful education," Judd tells Zap2it. "I was brand-new, and I was able to continue at Playhouse West, where I studied acting. I could go back and forth between my school and the set, and it was remarkable to combine practical working with my creative education. I could apply what I was learning, just little things like how to hit a mark and be able to do that without thinking.

"Of course, I was also working with some really talented people," Judd adds. "I got to hang around with Swoosie, and to see her craft was an enormous pleasure for someone as young and fresh as I was."

If she also was known then mainly as the sister of country music's Wynonna and other daughter of Wynonna's performing partner Naomi, Judd established her own identity in the entertainment world fast, since big-screen roles began coming her way steadily.

"I remember that I had to get out of 'Sisters' to do [the movie] 'Ruby in Paradise.' My agent said, 'Hang on. Before this is a "go," we have to go to NBC and ask them to let you out.' And very much to their credit, they did. It won the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival (plus an Independent Spirit Award for Judd), and before I knew it, being a working actor was my way of life."

Indeed, Judd -- the wife of two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Dario Franchitti -- soon would follow that film with "Heat," "A Time to Kill," "Kiss the Girls" and "Double Jeopardy." She says, "Only in the past five years have I looked back at that amazing trajectory and thought, 'Wow.'"
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