A regular on “most beautiful” lists and an unforgettable good girl on a popular TV show, Minka Kelly seems just about perfect. But this book can’t be judged by its cover—even the very first page is both shocking and tragic.
1. She Had A Bad Start
In an unknown moment of irony, Maureen “Mo” Kelly birthed Minka Kelly in Los Angeles in 1980. LA eventually became the place that catapulted her to stardom, but her childhood didn’t sparkle at all. For one, she didn’t spend any time with her father during her childhood. And life with her mother? It left much to be desired.
2. Her Mom Worked All Night
Kelly’s mother worked at the Crazy Girls club as a dancer. It’s exactly what it sounds like. Even worse, Maureen often brought her young daughter along with her, no doubt showing her things most young girls don’t see. But perhaps bringing her along felt better than the other options.
3. She Was Homeless
Kelly’s mother struggled to make ends meet. In her early years, the two often found themselves without a secure place to settle down. Things got so bad that they once lived in a storage shed, and even lived in a friend's garage on another occasion. Even worse, though, was the time Kelly’s mom left her in danger.
4. She Wasn’t Safe
During a particularly terrible time in her childhood, Kelly’s mother left her with a family friend. She claimed she was going to the Philippines to work (which we’ll get back to in a moment). She then disappeared for months, leaving Kelly in the hands of her friend’s daughter, who consistently hurt her physically.
Things didn’t improve when she returned.
5. She Lived With The Boyfriend
Eventually, Kelly’s mother moved them to New Mexico to live with her boyfriend, David Gonzalez. Gonzalez served as the only “father figure” of her childhood and young teen years. Unknown to Kelly at the time, however, he already played a role in making her suffer. When her mother supposedly worked in the Philippines, she’d been working for him instead.
6. Her Mother Did Time
Years after her mother stuck her with a tormentor for weeks on end, Kelly found out the dark truth about her mother's work trip. Authorities apprehended Maureen Kelly after discovering her moving substances across the border for Gonzalez. She did a short stint behind bars, and certainly didn’t admit it to Kelly right away. Still, that wasn’t the worst of it.
7. He Cheated All The Time
Life with her mother and Gonzalez proved to be everything but traditional. Not only did Kelly's mother continue to use and sell substances, but Gonzales constantly cheated. Kelly became accustomed to his other girlfriends. You might expect her and her mother to grow close during this time, but the opposite phenomena seemed to occur.
8. Her Mother Betrayed Her
Kelly likely found it difficult to connect with her mother amidst the circumstances they lived in. On one particular occasion, though, her mother showed her true loyalties. Kelly took Gonzalez’s car out, notably without asking him if she could. She seemingly got it back unscathed, but her mother ratted her out. The consequences proved severe.
9. She Had A Terrible “Father”
When her mother snitched on her, Gonzalez responded aggressively, physically mistreating the young teenager. Kelly’s mother did nothing to stop his repeated blows. He ended the scene by asking for a hug, saying, “This hurts me more than it hurts you”. It’s no wonder Kelly took off the first chance she got, though her mother beat her to it.
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10. Her Mother Left Her
When Kelly was only 16, someone tipped off her mother to an upcoming bust. She responded by fleeing New Mexico, leaving both Gonzalez and Kelly behind. Kelly decided to move in with her older boyfriend. Allegedly, he had five years on her. Any relationship between an adult and a teenage girl raises eyebrows, but this one had even more reason to cause concern.
11. He Took Advantage
Minka Kelly actually lived with both her boyfriend, Rudy, and his family. However, his parents seemingly didn’t do any supervising, considering Rudy’s behavior. It started with photos, with Rudy requesting that she pose in compromising positions. It’s not clear what he did with the photos, but he certainly didn’t stop with pictures.
12. He Pushed Her To Perform
Rudy moved from photos to video. Later on, Kelly remembered dissociating during these videos, leaving her body mentally in an attempt to just get through it. The relationship felt truly poisonous, and she’d eventually get out—but not without a semi-permanent reminder.
13. She Got A Heartbreaking Tattoo
Rudy didn’t seem satisfied with the horrors he'd already put his girlfriend through. By Kelly’s own estimation, he wanted to show his ownership over her by insisting she tattoo his name on her body. Luckily, she managed to resist, but their compromise left her with a tattoo of her own lip print inked near a private place. If you thought he couldn’t be worse, you thought wrong.
14. He Sent Mixed Signals
Her mother’s behavior made Kelly aware of several things children probably shouldn’t see. Still, Rudy is the person who seemingly pushed her over the edge. That makes the fact that he kept a close eye on her wardrobe— and called her insulting names when he thought she revealed too much—ridiculous. He showed no signs of stopping.
15. He Embarrassed Her
Rudy’s desire for Kelly to go beyond her (and possibly most people’s) limits continued to make her life a living nightmare. Toward the end of their relationship, he tried to get her to engage in intimate acts with a female friend. And when she refused? He went ahead and fulfilled his own request. He’d done more than enough to push her away, but that didn’t make their breakup easy.
16. She Got Knocked Up
Shortly after that atrocious encounter, 17-year-old Kelly found herself pregnant with Rudy’s baby. Her mother returned to New Mexico by that point, and went with her daughter to the clinic to end the pregnancy. But when Kelly sat in the clinic, waiting to have her operation, she felt too distressed about the whole thing to go through with it.
17. Her Mother Tried To Help
Kelly skipped the operation and left the clinic. As the two headed back, her mother allegedly offered to help her take care of the baby, saying they could do it together. This offer from a more traditional mother might sound comforting. But to Kelly, this only sounded the alarms on what her future could look like. She did a mental one-eighty.
18. She Changed Her Kind
In her memoir Tell Me Everything, Kelly writes, “That was it. In that moment, I knew the right choice. Raising a child with my mother would only continue this family trauma, another cycle added to so many generations of pain. Hadn’t there been enough damage already?”
Kelly refused to have a baby she couldn’t care for, and did life her own way, no matter the cost. In many cases, though, the cost proved insanely high.
19. She Used Her Body
At this point, Kelly seemed to realize that she truly had to look out for herself. In one attempt to do just that, she took up work at a video store, performing in suggestive peep shows. Somehow, she still managed to graduate from high school. When she did, she decided to turn things around completely, starting with an important stranger.
20. She Found Her Real Father
Although he didn’t play much of a role in raising her, Kelly’s father responded well when she reached out to him. Interestingly enough, he wielded a little starpower himself. He once played guitar with the band Aerosmith. Back in contact with him, she moved to Los Angeles and started over. Or, she tried to start over, anyway.
21. A Bunny Discovered Her
Like many people who end up in Hollywood, Kelly caught the performing bug. She developed an interest in modeling and acting. During one test shoot, an interesting woman noticed her—a retired Playmate looking to build up her management business noticed Kelly. Weirdly, her interest didn’t turn out to be what you’d probably expect.
22. She Wouldn’t Take The Bait
This retired Playmate had her eye on Kelly and wanted to manage her—but her intentions were chilling. She helped Kelly land a job as a receptionist in a surgeon's office. However, it came with an awful catch. The doctor didn’t plan to pay Kelly. Instead, he offered her a free “chest adjustment” as payment. Yeah, she gave that a hard pass.
She didn’t leave the field entirely, though.
23. She Worked For It
As weird as the whole surgeon’s office debacle turned out to be, Kelly found herself genuinely interested in the medical field. She worked as both a surgical technician and scrub tech for a few years. With that and her acting studies, she took control of her life and her future. Unfortunately, a piece of her past soon returned to haunt her.
24. She Put Her Mom Out
Kelly’s mother didn’t prove to be as good at getting her life together as she did. Her mother returned to LA in need of a place to stay, and moved in with her and her boyfriend at the time. Her mother not only stayed in bed all day, but also asked her for huge sums of money. Kelly put her out, just in time to focus on her biggest break yet.
25. She Landed Her Big Break
Minka Kelly dabbled with commercials and a few television shows in the early 2000s before hitting it big with a series regular role on NBC’s Friday Night Lights in 2006. She auditioned for a pretty edgy role, but she ended up in the role of the high school’s golden girl cheerleader, Lyla, instead. While her career started to heat up, her personal life did as well.
26. He Warned Her
Many viewers assume onscreen lovers have some type of real relationship whether or not they actually do. In Kelly’s case, the connection between her and her onscreen boyfriend, Taylor Kitsch, brewed out in the open. So much so that her executive producer plainly told her not to date him. She ignored his warning, and probably regretted it.
27. She Fell Fast And Hard
Reportedly, Kelly and Kitsch didn’t work together very long before they started dating. Their relationship became gossip fuel. While they felt attracted to each other quickly, their actual relationship proved extremely unstable. They dated on and off several times before “off” turned permanent. It made working together disastrous.
28. They Chose His Side
Kelly admitted that she wasn't always the best at sharing her emotions. Kitsch fared a lot better, allegedly sharing his version of their breakup with several castmates. They supported him through the tumultuous time, but left Kelly out in the cold. She’d pursued Kitsch without also making friends, and she dealt with the isolating consequences.
29. She Couldn’t Work With Him
Life on set turned into a bit of a nightmare. Not only did Kelly not have many friends to confide in, but she also had to continue to act with him. Any place the production forced the ex lovers into, including transportation and trailers, turned instantly awkward. But that messy breakup didn’t make her quit the dating scene.
30. She Dated Like Crazy
Minka Kelly's track record up to that point didn’t look great. Though, her romantic struggles didn’t slow her down. She continued to date throughout her career, with each man seemingly more famous than the next. Her star studded list of ex beaus includes Chris Evans, Wilmer Valderrama, and Trevor Noah. No relationship filled the holes from her childhood, though.
31. She Needed Help
Kelly survived her unstable, tumultuous childhood, but she needed help managing its effects. She decided to start spending time in therapy. When her therapist noticed the importance of Kelly’s mom to her story, she recommended the young starlet confront her mother. She tried, but her mother’s condition made it impossible.
32. She Didn’t Have Long
Not long after landing her big television gig, Kelly received horrifying news. Doctors diagnosed her mother with cancer. Even worse, they estimated she’d only live about two more years. Faced with this finality, Kelly decidedly forgave her mother. She took responsibility for her mother’s medical care to the end, although she didn’t do all she hoped to.
33. She Missed The Holidays
Kelly’s filming schedule kept her from enjoying one last Thanksgiving with her mother. She said herself she felt it could be the last, but still didn’t go to her. All things considered, when her mother’s time to go finally came, Kelly held her in her last moments. Returning to her career, though, brought even more unexpected loss.
34. She Wanted To Be An Angel
Kelly concluded her run on Friday Night Lights in 2009, after three notably successful years on the show. Her good record helped land her a few other more minor gigs, including spots in Mad Love and Parenthood. Her next big opportunity came around with the chance to play a lead in the long awaited Charlie’s Angels reboot. If you saw it, you know how that went.
35. She Flopped
Audiences felt a lot less than impressed with the reboot. Views were so bad that the show didn’t even fully complete its first season before the network canceled it. Luckily for Kelly, her reputation came out clean, and she continued to book film and tv roles. That is, until another film drew eyes to her in the worst way possible.
36. He Went Public
In 2012, gossip about Kelly immediately blew up when news of a tape of her in a very compromising scene came to light. Reportedly, multiple bidders vied for the clips of the now famous woman getting intimate. While it sounds like just another salacious story or even a star looking for publicity, the truth turned out to be far more tragic.
37. It Came Back To Haunt Her
While the tabloid continued to run their versions of her story, Kelly sat with the hurtful truth. Her long time ex, Rudy, had not only kept the videos he took of her, but now attempted to use them to make money. Even worse, the difference in their ages made the whole thing more suspect. Like always, Kelly did what she had to do to get through it, no matter the cost.
38. She Shelled Out The Money
Kelly ended up paying a monumental $50,000 to procure the film and keep it from going public. In looking at the video after so many years, Kelly lamented the entire thing. She saw how young and vulnerable she really felt in the clips. Crisis averted, Kelly turned her attention back to her career and other, more personal pursuits.
39. She Wanted A Family
Although the name of the exact boyfriend remains confidential, Kelly allegedly hoped to start a family with one of her lovers during her career. Sadly, she had trouble conceiving, and decided to go the route of IVF. The treatment proved successful, and she began to prepare to welcome her child. Sadly, the preparation would be in vain.
40. She Lost Her Dream
Although the IVF session initially succeeded, Kelly ultimately miscarried. It’s not clear whether or not this situation took a toll on the relationship, but it did end shortly after that. This tragedy, compounded with her series of unsuccessful relationships, seriously affected her mental state. Things got so bad that she took to untraditional means to feel better.
41. She Got High
Kelly turned to the use of Ketamine to treat her symptoms of depression. While Ketamine isn’t a common name in the conversation around treating mental illness, she felt her treatments with the hallucinogenic substance helped her immensely. She made the decision to move on from the girl she was, but not without at least a few more hiccups.
42. She Played The Villain
Actor Jesse William’s divorce hit gossip sights in 2017. What does that have to do with Kelly, you ask? Well, many suspected Kelly to be the homewrecker that caused the split. She and Williams did date, and not long after the announcement of his divorce. However, they both maintain they didn’t step over the line. Luckily for her, it didn’t affect her too much.
43. They Loved Her Look
Over time, Kelly collected as many accolades for her physical beauty as she did her acting (if not more so). She appeared in several articles ranking celebrities on their beauty, including a recurring spot on Maxim’s Hot 100 List and a spot in Gold Gym’s Hottest Bodies awards. All that seemed just a tangent, though, to what she really wanted.
44. She Did What She Could
Although Friday Night Lights continued to be both her longest and most well known gig, Kelly continued acting and appearing on screen in various ways. Maybe most notably, she appeared in The Butler as the iconic Jackie Kennedy, and in Titans as Dove. While things looked good on the outside, more scandal soon came to the light.
45. She Got Caught Up
Many people suspect the big players of Hollywood to conduct business in a less than ethical fashion. Still, when a New York Times article revealed the number of women accusing Harvey Weinstein, a famous producer, of serious misconduct, those suspicions became real life. Kelly also came out with her own startling story shortly after the article.
46. It Seemed Normal
Kelly’s first encounter with Weinstein didn’t ruffle any feathers. She met him at a party full of other industry names, and he invited her to a general meeting. These types of meetings don’t seem uncommon in the business, as it’s often all about connections. So the meeting didn’t surprise Kelly, but the place where he wanted to meet did.
47. She Felt Off
Rather than inviting her to coffee or an office, Weinstein asked her to meet him in his hotel room. Her varied experience with men likely came into play, as she requested they meet somewhere more public. He agreed, and they went to a restaurant instead. The meeting began with him and his assistant, but then he asked his assistant to leave them alone…
48. He Targeted Her
Things went immediately downhill. By Kelly’s own account, Weinstein alluded to the two both having “feelings” for each other during their first encounter. He offered to give Kelly both success and luxury if she agreed to date him. She refused as politely as she could, and left shortly thereafter. She didn’t handle it the way she wished she had, though.
49. She Felt Sorry
In her Instagram post detailing the entire sordid affair, Kelly apologized profusely. She definitely condemned the producer for his totally inappropriate behavior, but she also felt some fault. She wished she’d called him out sooner, and that she’d shared her story publicly when it happened. Her desire to come clean became a trend.
50. She Told All
Just a few years after her Instagram confession, Kelly’s book Tell Me Everything: A Memoir debuted. She dedicated it to her mother and finally shared the many difficulties and challenges she conquered to get to her current life. She continues to appear in various projects, and also dedicates herself to supporting charities and causes she cares about.