Minka Kelly felt 'complicit in protecting' Harvey Weinstein: 'Women are often taught to never offend'

"Friday Night Lights" star Minka Kelly offers an unflinching close-up of her tumultuous upbringing and career in her debut memoir "Tell Me Everything."
"Friday Night Lights" star Minka Kelly offers an unflinching close-up of her tumultuous upbringing and career in her debut memoir "Tell Me Everything."
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When it comes to setting the scene for her life story, Minka Kelly is taking a seat in the director’s chair.

Kelly, who became a household name thanks to her role as cheerleader Lyla Garrity on the TV sports drama “Friday Night Lights,” offers an unflinching close-up of her tumultuous upbringing and career in her debut memoir “Tell Me Everything (Henry Holt, 288 pp., out Tuesday).

Kelly, 42, spares no detail from her turbulent life, including her unlikely career transition from orthopedic nurse to actress, her emotionally dysfunctional relationship with “Friday” co-star Taylor Kitsch and her unstable childhood with a mother who worked as a stripper and battled drug addiction.

“I’d wanted to tell my story since I was in high school, not yet aware it might hopefully mean something to someone somewhere, struggling to find her place in this world, struggling to understand the cards they’d been dealt and how to best play them,” Kelly writes. “The way we make sense of life is through our stories.”

Here are all the must-read revelations from Kelly’s book.

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"Tell Me Everything" at Amazon for $20

"Tell Me Everything" at Bookshop for $27

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Minka Kelly was warned to not date ‘Friday Night Lights’ co-star Taylor Kitsch

Kelly met Kitsch when she moved to Austin, Texas, to shoot the first season of “Friday Night Lights.” Kitsch, who played Tim Riggins, co-starred alongside Kelly’s Garrity on the series inspired by the 1990 H.G. Bissinger book of the same name and its 2004 film adaptation.

“I had a crush on him immediately,” Kelly writes, describing their chemistry as “intense.” “He was funny and adventurous and didn’t take himself too seriously.”

Despite being warned that dating a co-star “always ends badly” by the show’s creator Peter Berg, Kelly and Kitsch became an item, setting into motion a volatile on-again-off-again relationship.

“When it was good, it was good. But we were very young and very sensitive people with our own personal unhealed traumas, so when it was bad, it was really bad,” Kelly writes.

The emotional tensions between the couple escalated to the point that Kitsch avoided being in the same room as Kelly when they weren’t filming.

“It was difficult for him to separate me from the person he had to work with every day. I, on the other hand, was too good at compartmentalizing,” Kelly writes. “My heart was so guarded that I couldn’t even acknowledge that this was a real relationship with real feelings. I minimized what we’d shared, the way I did everything else in my life.”

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Minka Kelly alleges Harvey Weinstein asked her to be his girlfriend

Kelly shares an encounter she had with disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein after meeting him at an industry party in the late 2000s. Weinstein, who is three years into his 23-year sentence for a rape and sexual assault conviction in New York, was sentenced to 16 years in prison on similar charges in a Los Angeles criminal trial in February.

Kelly writes that following the party, Weinstein requested to meet with her in his hotel room, but Kelly asked for their meeting to take place in a restaurant instead. During their lunch, Kelly claims Weinstein offered her “a wonderful life” – private jet access and unlimited shopping sprees – in exchange for being his girlfriend.

“Women are often taught to never offend or upset a man when declining his advances,” Kelly writes. “We’re taught men have fragile egos, and when you simply say no without dancing around to make him feel you’re honored by his invitation, you run the risk of him lashing out at you.”

Uninterested in Weinstein’s offer, Kelly feigned flattery and told Weinstein they should keep their relationship professional. While Kelly and her agent laughed off his advance as being “part and parcel with slimy ol’ Harvey,” she says she now sees the interaction differently.

“When all the #MeToo details emerged, I realized I’d been complicit in protecting him,” Kelly writes. “I was also complicit in making him feel OK about the gross proposition he’d made. At the time, the only safe route I saw was to say I was flattered.”

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Minka Kelly says abortion was the ‘right choice’ after teen pregnancy

Kelly became pregnant during her relationship with a man named Rudy, whom Kelly began dating when she was 16 and he was 22. Kelly was initially against carrying the pregnancy to term because of the toxic dynamic of their relationship. Rudy often shamed Kelly for her fashion choices and isolated her by restricting her social life, she says.

“I couldn’t tell Rudy (about the pregnancy). He was already so in control of me,” Kelly writes. “This would cement his rights over me and my body forever more.”

Kelly’s mother Maureen took her to her appointment for an abortion, although Kelly ended up changing her mind and leaving the clinic.

On the drive home, Maureen offered to help Kelly raise her child, which Kelly says helped her realize that having an abortion was the “right choice” because of the instability of her own childhood.

“I couldn’t imagine bringing a baby into what my mother brought me into,” Kelly writes. “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?”

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Minka Kelly was forced to pay $50,000 to ex-boyfriend for underage sex tape

During her relationship with Rudy, Kelly alleges she was coerced into making a sex tape with him at 17. When the couple watched the footage together a few days later, Kelly was disturbed by the way she infantilized herself to please Rudy.

“I spoke and acted like a small child. I’d long known I’d changed my behavior to placate him ... but seeing it on video made me squirm,” Kelly writes. “On the screen wasn’t a woman filled with desire; this was a small girl doing whatever was necessary to keep herself safe.”

Despite being assured by Rudy that he had destroyed their tape, Kelly was confronted with the explicit recording several years later when Rudy attempted to shop it around for distribution. Kelly subsequently hired an attorney, and they were able to negotiate a deal with Rudy in which Kelly paid him $50,000 for a signed release that forced him to turn over all copies of the tape.

“The tape I’d made with Rudy was in no way a cute sex tape. This was my child abuse on display,” Kelly writes. “I’d worked so hard to escape that role I’d found myself trapped in, and now, the idea that it could be broadcast to the entire world made me feel like I was going to die.”

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Minka Kelly on embracing sexuality as ‘a stripper’s daughter’

Kelly’s mother Maureen worked as a stripper during Kelly's childhood, and she reflects on how the nature of her mother’s work informed her relationship with sexuality. She says she gravitated to “baggy unisex skater clothes” in her younger years, in part, as “a reaction to how Mom dressed. She chose skintight outfits designed to draw attention from men, which to me looked like flirting with danger.”

At 17, Kelly worked at a peep show in order to make enough money for her own apartment (Kelly had moved in with boyfriend Rudy because of her parents’ legal issues). But Kelly made sure to keep the job to a six-month stint to avoid “getting lured permanently into that life.”

Years later, while reeling from the trauma of having a miscarriage, Kelly began taking pole-dancing classes as an emotional outlet. The unabashed sexiness of the experience, Kelly says, allowed her to see “myself clearly for the first time.”

“I was powerful, and it was okay to celebrate my femininity, my sexuality, my sensuousness,” Kelly writes. “My joy was driven by my own internal feelings of fulfillment. I didn’t need anyone to see or approve of me to gain from it.”

In addition to recognizing the feminine “superpower” of sexuality, Kelly says the classes helped her mourn the death of Maureen, who’d died of colon cancer in 2008, by letting go of the stigma of being a “stripper’s daughter.”

“Embracing that side of myself, a side I’d long kept locked away, my relationship with my mother grew so much deeper and stronger,” Kelly writes. “The more I healed my wounds and the more forgiveness I developed for her, the more compassion I found for both of us.”

"Tell Me Everything" at Amazon for $20

"Tell Me Everything" at Bookshop for $27

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Minka Kelly drops memoir 'Tell Me Everything': Must-read revelations