You may not recognize Minka Kelly's name, but you've no doubt seen her work. She kept the story moving for much of her run on Friday Night Lights and these days, she's got a recurring gig on Parenthood, where she plays Max's behavioral aide Gaby.
"I didn't go to theater school," Kelly told Esquire. "I didn't go to Juilliard. But I've lived a lot. I've seen a lot. I feel like that makes up for a little bit…Hopefully people will see that I'm not just a 17-year-old cheerleader from Friday Night Lights."
Kelly is well on her way to proving herself. In addition to a cameo in the Entourage finale, she starred in the summer indie Searching for Sonny and is set to share the big screen with Leighton Meester in the scary movie, The Roommate, due out in February.
In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Kelly is also in Funny or Die's celeb slumber party spoof The Booby Scare with Alyson Hannigan, Jaime King, Emily Deschanel and Katharine McPhee.
"I've never done a sexy photo shoot before," Kelly said. "I've never really honestly tapped into that side. It was really liberating. It was exciting. I would look at the pictures, like, that's me?"
Clearly, Kelly is gorgeous and it would seem she gets that from her parents. Her father is high-cheek-boned former Aerosmith guitarist Rick Dufay and one can only assume her mother, Maureen Kelly, who raised her, was a looker, too.
"My mom lived a fast life," Kelly shared. "It was all about what we could do to have fun with nothing. For most of my life, she was a dancer. An exotic dancer. She was a stripper. Um, so she would come home at like three, four o'clock in the morning, and sometimes she would have a really great night, and so she would wake me up in the middle of the night and we'd go to Ralphs and go grocery shopping. And that was so much fun. We'd have the whole grocery store to ourselves, and we would have a blast and buy a hundred dollars in groceries. And it was just the best day ever. The best day."
While her mother raised her on her own, Kelly has found a relationship with her rocker father, as well. Dufay is said to have helped Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler during some of his darkest times and Kelly says her father keeps her in line as well.
"That's what my dad is for me: 'Dad, am I gettin' a little out of order?' 'Yes, Mink, you're out of order,'" Kelly shared. "He never judges me for any mistake I make. He just tells me when I'm making it. And I trust him. I thank him on a daily basis. I know how lucky I am. I see too many people that don't have that and my heart breaks for them." While Kelly has found success, she's never too busy to stop and say "Thank you," which is one of the things her Yankee boyfriend Derek Jeter loves about her.
"He's the same way, and he said it was a good way to judge someone's character," she said. "It's actually unfortunate, in a way, that you would notice that. It blows my mind that anyone could be unkind to anyone. The guy clearing our plates is a person. I don't care if you're sweeping the floor. I don't care if you're cleaning my toilet. Not that I have someone to clean my toilet -- I clean my own toilet."
By the way, Esquire's Sexiest Woman Alive is actually a full grown woman. The retired surgical nurse is already in her thirties.
"Done with the twenties," Kelly bragged. "I'm confident in my skin, and I'm cool with my flaws and all that stuff. It just feels nice to be at peace with yourself. I think my thirtieth birthday gave me permission to have all that. The twenties were a pain in the ass -- figuring it all out. What am I doing? Where do I go?"
Esquire's November 2010 issue paints Sexiest Woman Alive Minka Kelly as a tough, athletic, sweet thing who likes quiet nights at home as much as wild concert nights. Sounds like a good pick to SheKnows!
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