November 20, 2006 12:00 PM

She starred in 1997’s Chasing Amy and recently played Jennifer Aniston‘s best friend in The Break-Up, but for Joey Lauren Adams, waiting for a meaty role to come along became “demeaning to the soul.” Last year she moved to Oxford, Miss., to “try writing something for myself with a strong female lead,” says Adams, 38, who came back with the script for Come Early Morning. “I was asking to be in the room during editing, pick locations and consult on wardrobe. My agent said, ‘That’s what a director does.'” So she decided to hand the part to Ashley Judd and make her directorial debut. A bonus: “You don’t have to diet to direct.”

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