Minka Kelly Says Mom Took Her to Strip Clubs During “Unstable” Childhood

The "Friday Night Lights" star had to go live with an abusive boyfriend at 17 when her mom left town.

Actress Minka Kelly, 42, didn’t have a PTA mom, lavish birthday parties, or long days at the playground while growing up in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The 500 Days of Summer star says she instead spent her “chaotic and unstable” childhood with single mom Maureen “Mo” Dumont Kelly, who worked as an exotic dancer.

In a new interview exclusively with People to promote her upcoming memoir Tell Me Everything, Kelly shares that she wishes her mom were like other moms. “I spent a lot of my youth wishing my mom was something she wasn’t,” she tells the magazine.

The Friday Night Lights actress shares that she once lived in a storage shed and often went to work with her mom, who couldn’t afford to hire a babysitter.

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“If she made a lot of money that night, we’d go grocery shopping at 2 a.m.,” Kelly shares in the book, due May 2. “My childhood was colorful and chaotic, unstable and inconsistent, unpredictable and hard. But the silver lining is that it made me an adaptable person.”

The actress, who has dated a bevy of Hollywood hunks from Derek Jeter to Chris Evans, also recounts an abusive boyfriend as a teenager.

Kelly explains that her mom got caught up in a potential drug bust and skipped town when the Parenthood actress was only 17 years old. Her mom’s absence prompted her to move in with her abuser, subsequently getting pregnant and contemplating an abortion.

Kelly was already at the abortion clinic when she changed her mind, and her mom suggested they raise the baby together. “That was it; in that moment, I knew the right choice. Raising a child with my mother would only continue the family trauma,” she shares in the book. “Another cycle added to so many generations of pain. Hadn’t there been enough damage already?”

She ended up getting the abortion, moving to Hollywood, and connecting with her estranged dad, Aerosmith guitarist Rick Dufay. Kelly worked several jobs while pursuing acting and scored her breakout role in Friday Night Lights in 2006.

Shortly after, Kelly learned her mom was battling colon cancer and cared for her until she died in 2008. “I was only able to really appreciate how special she was when I got much older. In fact, when it was maybe a little too late.”

Jené Luciani Sena
Jené Luciani Sena is an accredited journalist and internationally-renowned bestselling author, regularly seen on national TV outlets such as Access Daily, Today and Dr Oz. Touted as one of Woman’s World Magazine’s “Ultimate Experts,” she’s a TEDTalk speaker and a busy Mom of 4. Read more
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