"I've loved acting and dancing since I was a kid. Before anyone thought I was pretty or before I had a voluptuous figure, that was what I was going to do." Acting may have been beautiful Kelly's main aim as a child but, over the years, she's established herself in the worlds of modelling, TV and showbiz events to get there – and ended up with a multi-faceted, stellar career that looks set to send her star rising and rising...
It's hardly surprising photogenic Kelly began her career as a model. With a figure to die for and a classic, Fifties-style beauty, the brunette quickly built up a huge lad mag following and began to appear on Page Three in the tabloids aged just 16.
"I think my mum and dad were cool with it," reveals Kelly, who grew up in Rochester, Kent, the daughter of cook Sandra and scaffolder Ken. "I was earning good money. They were fine with it."
Indeed, her parents had been fully supportive of their daughter's passion for the entertainment industry, securing her a place at the Italia Conti stage school when she was 12. "My mum and dad were not pushy at all. I think they just thought it was a hobby and I'd probably grow out of it," she says.
But ambitious Kelly didn't want to carve out a career based only on her stunning looks. She landed minor presenting gigs on MTV and the Trouble channel before getting her first taste of the big time – replacing TV favourite Denise Van Outen on Channel 4's popular early morning show The Big Breakfast
However, the then 18-year-old only lasted six months in the role, and was let go after a string of live-on-air mishaps, often involving the autocue. "It was my first TV job and people literally sat and scrutinised everything I did and wrote down every mistake," she said later. "At that age it's hard to deal with."
Still, it would take more than one blip to get Kelly down. Riding high on her newfound fame, she turned her attention towards acting and moved to Los Angeles with her boyfriend Jason Statham, where she landed some minor film roles – including one in adventure thriller Three
, which starred Titanic
actor Billy Zane.
Kelly fell for the handsome Hollywood star and the pair quickly became LA red carpet regulars. They were engaged for four years – during which time Kelly hosted reality show Celebrity Love Island
, launched a swimwear and lingerie line at New Look and starred in ITV drama Miss Marple
. But the actress called it all off just after the heart-breaking death of her father in 2007 from lung cancer.
Ken's death occurred just as she made it through to the final stages of that year's Strictly Come Dancing
, causing her to pull out of the competition to grieve away from the public eye. "Understandably she has found it too difficult," said a BBC spokesman. "Kelly has been a fantastic part of the programme, and she will be sorely missed by everyone on the show who would also like to express their deepest sympathy to Kelly and her family at this difficult time."
By September 2008 she was back on the dating scene – and romance blossomed with handsome rugby player Danny Cipriani. "It's actually really refreshing to be with someone who isn't in my business because it's something else that we can talk about," admitted the smitten star, shrugging off the fact she's eight years older than her beau.
"He's closer in age to me than anyone I've ever been with," said Kelly, whose previous boyfriends had been considerably older than her. "That's the reality. If I'd known it was this good, I'd have done it years ago."
Her career was going from strength to strength, too, as she turned her hand to the theatre and took on a critically acclaimed turn in Calendar Girls
In 2010, the tabloid-friendly couple announced they were moving to Australia, where Danny had signed to play for a rugby team in Melbourne.
However, in the past Kelly has insisted marriage isn't on the cards. "I can't promise to love someone for ever. I can't imagine anyone could promise to love me for ever. I mean, it sounds like a lovely day, but I go to red carpet events all the time and I'm the centre of attention so it's not like I'm looking for that!"