[Warning: Potentially Triggering Content]
Minka Kelly is reflecting on all the trauma she endured growing up in her new memoir, Tell Me Everything.
The actress, known for her roles in hit shows like Euphoria, Titans, Friday Night Lights, and more, is peeling back all the layers of her unstable upbringing. In an excerpt obtained by People, the 42-year-old reflected on struggling with poverty while growing up in Los Angeles with her single mom, Maureen Kelly, who worked as an exotic dancer. She recalled going to the Crazy Girls strip club with her mother, whose night would determine whether or not they could afford food:
“If she made a lot of money that night, we’d go grocery shopping at 2 a.m. My childhood was colorful and chaotic, unstable and inconsistent, unpredictable and hard a lot of the times. But the silver lining is that it made me a very adaptable person.”
The pair later found their way to Albuquerque, New Mexico, to live with her mother’s abusive boyfriend David, who had many other girlfriends. Minka recalled one time in her teen years when her mother informed David she had been “borrowing” his car without permission. In an excerpt acquired by Page Six, the actress remembered:
“He hit me with an open hand, then a fist, over and over. He found a piece of cable wire on the floor and started thrashing me with it as I curled into a ball to protect what parts of myself I could … He yanked my hair, pulling me around the room by my ponytail… How long the beating continued, I don’t know. Welts were rising all over my skin when he finally exhausted his fury.”
She remembered that after it was all said and done, David said:
“Come here and give me a hug. This hurts me more than it hurts you.”
She remembered wanting to scream in his face, “‘You a**hole,’ I wanted to say, ‘You f**king monster!’ I wanted to cry and scream and tell them both to go f**k themselves, but that would only make it worse. I held it in.” She added that her mother would often leave her for MONTHS at a time, and in one specific case, “Mo” fled town to avoid a potential drug bust, which resulted in Minka, who was 17 at the time, moving in with her high school boyfriend, Rudy, and his family — which continued the cycle of abuse.
The Lansky actress revealed that around the same time, she began performing in peep shows at an adult-video store to make ends meet. She revealed that her boyfriend also began insisting on taking sexually explicit photos together — so graphic that she remembers the Walgreens photo manager informing her, “We don’t print pictures like that.” Wow.
From there, Rudy purchased a video camera to begin recording Minka “perform even raunchier scenes.” She wrote that upon watching the recording a few days later, she was shocked by the way she acted like a young child:
“I hardly even remembered making the tape. I’d become such a master at leaving my body when things were uncomfortable.”
The Parenthood alum also noted that years later, Rudy allegedly attempted to sell the video to the press, which resulted in Minka having to dole out $50,000 in order to buy the film back. How awful.
Sadly, the trauma didn’t end there. Minka went on to share that around the same time she filmed the tapes, Rudy demanded that she get his name tattooed on her body. She knew it was a bad idea, but she needed a place to live, so she instead agreed to get a tat of her lip print “on the side of my pubic mound,” which she has grown to regret:
“Little did I know I’d spend the rest of my life explaining to new lovers what the mark was, lying to everyone… I was too ashamed to admit the truth.”
Rudy’s abusive behavior, unfortunately, continued on, with him often calling Minka a “s***” for her clothing choices. He even at one point attempted to coerce her into having sex with a female friend — and when she declined, Rudy and the unnamed female began having sex in front of her. The very next day, Minka discovered she was pregnant.
At that time, her mother was just returning to New Mexico, and the two made an appointment at Planned Parenthood to figure out all her options — ultimately deciding to abort the fetus. Before coming to this decision, though, her mom suggested they raise the unborn child together. Minka recalled:
“Raise this baby together, how? With what money? What home? What insurance? I couldn’t imagine bringing a baby into what my mother brought me into. Absolutely not. 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?”
After finishing high school, Minka moved back to Los Angeles to reunite with her musician father, Rick Dufay, who once played guitar for Aerosmith. There, she landed a job as a receptionist at a plastic surgeon’s office, but she was fired after she refused a breast augmentation as a form of payment. OMG.
However, the position left her with an interest in medicine, so she began studying to be a scrub nurse — while simultaneously modeling and taking acting lessons. In 2006, she landed a role on NBC’s Friday Night Lights, which would go on to become a classic. She also reconciled with her mother, who had since been diagnosed with colon cancer. She and Maureen moved to Austin, Texas together, where the show filmed, and where Minka cared for her mother until she passed at age 51 in 2008. The actress told People:
“I spent a lot of my youth wishing my mom was something she wasn’t, wishing she was like the other moms. I only was able to really appreciate how special she was when I got much older. In fact when it was maybe a little too late.”
She went on to date her Friday Night Lights co-star, Taylor Kitsch, in a tumultuous, on-again, off-again relationship, noting:
“Life became very difficult both on and off set whenever we broke up. We were young and had very few tools to handle our emotions and personal grievances. On the days we had to work together and were broken up, he didn’t want to be in the hair and makeup trailer at the same time I was.”
She later dated Chris Evans, Wilmer Valderrama, Dan Reynolds, and Trevor Noah. The Roommate lead revealed that she underwent IVF with an unnamed boyfriend, but sadly miscarried. The two broke up shortly after. She wrote:
“What I learned was that I needed to stop focusing on what I perceived were my partners’ flaws and begin asking myself why I kept attracting and allowing men into my life who weren’t capable of caring for me in the ways I needed as a result of their own unhealed childhood wounds.”
However, reflecting on all her “wounds” led the actress to question the reason for her own existence. She wrote:
“Sometimes I think an abortion might have been best. Don’t get me wrong. I’m glad to be alive and for the opportunities I’ve had but it still breaks my heart to recognize how unprepared my mother was, maybe even constitutionally ill-equipped to be a mother in any genuine way.”
“There have been times, I have to be honest, when I’ve been mad at her for having birthed me. I didn’t ask for all this. I didn’t ask for this trauma and for the struggle to earn enough to pay for the tons of therapy I’ve needed to heal these wounds. I didn’t ask for these complicated relationships.”
Now, the star has undergone ketamine treatments, which helped her come to a necessary realization:
“I had been operating in my adult relationships like that scared sixteen-year-old girl. I had decided at some point, unbeknownst to my conscious mind, that men are not to be trusted and always must be kept at arm’s distance … The hour I spent crying for that little girl was so healing and that new knowledge changed everything.”
“Now, little by little, that little girl is learning to relax and trust me … She can let go now, she doesn’t need to be in charge any longer.”
Extremely powerful stuff. Minka’s memoir, Tell Me Everything, releases on May 2.
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If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, help is available. Consider calling the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233, or text START to 88788, or go to https://www.thehotline.org/.
[Images via Judy Eddy/WENN]