Minka Kelly: My Mom Was a Stripper, And My Childhood Was Great

There are a few surprising things about Esquire's pick for 2010's "Sexiest Woman Alive", Minka Kelly. For one thing, the thirty-year-old actress is less super-famous than past winners like Scarlett Johannsen and Angelina Jolie. (Kelly is best known for for her role as cheerleader Lyla in the NBC cult hit Friday Night Lights, although more people may recognize her as Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter's girlfriend.) For another thing, she's done more than just modeling and acting; before she got her break-out roel on Friday Night Lights, Kelly was working as a surgeon's assistant. Most striking of all, she had a childhood most would consider difficult -- and yet, she remembers it fondly.

"My mom lived a fast life," Kelly says of her her mother, who raised her alone. "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."

The actress says that her mother often worked until three or four o'clock in the morning, but she made the most of their mother-daughter time.

"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," remembers the actress. " 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."

Kelly also waxes rhapsodic about her mother's cooking skills, even when the cupboard was bare.

"My mom could add an egg to anything and make it better," she tells the interviewer. "She'd say, 'Nothing for dinner? Watch this.' And she would cook [Top Ramen instant noodles], add whatever vegetables were in the freezer, drop a raw egg in so it cooked in the hot broth — dinner."

It would be easy for Minka Kelly to turn her childhood into a sob story. We love that she's chosen, instead, to appreciate what her mother was able to do for her. Kelly learned from a young age to be resourceful, and to find happiness in tough circumstances. Those skills should take her far in life -- even farther than being Derek Jeter's girlfriend.

Can you relate to the childhood that Minka Kelly describes? Chime in below!

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