Minka Kelly

Minka Kelly Biography

Actress (1980–)
Minka Kelly is an American actress best known for her cheerleading role on the acclaimed TV series Friday Night Lights.


Actress Minka Kelly was born on June 24, 1980, in Los Angeles, California. The daughter of former Aerosmith guitarist Rick Dufay, Kelly broke through with her performance as a cheerleader on the acclaimed TV series Friday Night Lights (2006-09), and went on to appear in films such as The Kingdom (2007) and The Roommate (2011). Maxim magazine has named her several times on its "Hot 100" list, and Esquire featured her as its "Sexiest Woman Alive" in 2010.

Early Life

Minka Dumont Kelly was born Minka Dumont Dufay on June 24, 1980, in Los Angeles, California, the only child of former Aerosmith guitarist Rick Dufay and former Las Vegas showgirl Maureen Kelly. Kelly boasts family roots in acting, including grandfather Richard Ney, who appeared in films such as The Fan (1949) and The Lovable Cheat (1949), and grandmother Greer Garson, who won an Academy Award for her performance in the 1942 film Mrs. Miniver (in which Ney, her husband, also appeared).

Kelly's mother made up her unique name, though kids used it as fodder for teasing, calling her "Minka Smelly." Her mother raised her alone after Kelly's father abandoned the family.

Kelly attended Valley High School in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and during this time, she reconciled with her estranged father. She followed him to Los Angeles a couple years later, at age 19. While there, she briefly attended school to become a surgical technician and took an acting class, subsequently finding her calling.

'Friday Night Lights'

Minka Kelly began landing small roles on TV shows when she was in her early 20s, including Nickelodeon's Drake & Josh (2004), NBC's American Dreams (2005) and The WB's What I Like About You (2005).

Then, in 2006, Kelly landed her breakout role as a high school cheerleader on the acclaimed football drama Friday Night Lights (2006-09), which raised her visibility in the eye of the public as well as the acting community. Impressed with her performance, the creator of the series, Peter Berg, offered Kelly a role in his feature film, The Kingdom (2007), alongside Jamie Foxx, Chris Cooper and Jennifer Garner. Two years later, in 2009, she played a small role in the romantic film 500 Days of Summer, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel.

Continued Acting Success

In the meantime, Minka Kelly's model looks have not gone unnoticed by men's magazines. She was named on Maxim magazine's annual "Hot 100" list in both 2007 and 2008, and was Esquire magazine's "Sexiest Woman Alive" in 2010.

After her role on Friday Night Lights ended, Kelly appeared on the NBC series Parenthood (2010-11), on an adapted version of the ABC show Charlie's Angels (2011) and in the film thriller The Roommate (2011). The actress played First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy in The Butler (2013), and starred opposite Giovanni Ribisi in Papa Hemingway in Cuba (2015).

Personal Life

Minka Kelly dated actor Donald Faison in 2005, then briefly dated actor Chris Evans in 2007. She began dating musician John Mayer in the fall of 2007, but the couple split in January 2008, reportedly because Mayer refused to commit.

Kelly went on to date New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter in late 2008, but their relationship ended in August 2011. She began dating actor Wilmer Valderrama in early 2012.

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