Kelly Brennan lives in Leigh on Sea, is 47 years old and is a mother to two girls.
She has had an incredibly successful career as a model and commercial actress over the past 30 years and has featured on magazine covers including Just 17, Woman’s Journal, Red and Cosmopolitan and was a ‘mannequin’ in Robert Palmer’s ‘Simply Irresistible’ video*.
How did you end up doing the job you do?
I started modelling when I was 17. I was walking through Covent Garden when I was spotted by an agent. I was modelling until I was in my early 30s when the work started to dry up. I’d always wanted to act and I loved filming commercials so I decided to combine the two.
What are you working on right now?
Like the majority of actors, my work is quite sporadic. I’m not cast in anything at the moment but recently I shot commercials for Honda and Cadbury’s Milk Tray. Both were very surreal but great fun. Honda was shot in Lisbon over six days, which is quite a long time for a commercial shoot. I had to learn Karate, fire an arrow from a bow, carve a piece of wood with a chain saw, play the drums plus many other activities, with literally ten minutes training before filming. It was challenging but hilarious. My co-star wasn’t an actor (he’s an artist who got lucky) and he was great to work with – we pretty much laughed our way through it. It certainly shows in the ad.
Milk Tray was a far different experience, insofar as the ‘humour’ came from the script. I was working with Shaun Williamson (best know as ‘Barry’ from Eastenders), Ex-footballer Robbie Savage, Joey Essex (Towie), Spencer Matthews (Made in Chelsea), ex-ruby star Thom Evans, athlete Denise Lewis and the original Milk Tray man, James Coombes. A rum bunch but again it was a lot of fun and I loved every minute, especially watching Shaun. I don’t think many people realise he’s a classically trained actor. His comic timing was incredible. A lovely chap and very professional.
Describe your first job
My first paid job was as a checkout girl in the local ASDA. Years later, I did a photographic shoot for their ‘George at ASDA’ range. I’d come full circle!
What would was your B plan if this career didn’t work out?
I went to college not knowing quite what I wanted to do. I knew I wanted to travel in some way so luckily, modelling provided me with more travelling opportunities than I could have dreamed of.
Who or what has been your biggest source of inspiration to date?
I couldn’t put that down to one person, or place but a lot of people I’ve come across, whether personally or professionally, have inspired me.
Who would you most like to work with?
I always wanted to work with Peter Lindburgh. An amazing photographer who did the most incredible photo shoots with the ‘Supermodels.’ I met him in Paris but alas, never got booked by him!
What did you want to be when you were little?
I was quite a shy child but inwardly I always had a desire to perform. I wanted to be a dancer and even set up my own dance ‘troupe’ when I was eleven. I think it was the desire to wear footless tights, which were very fashionable in the 80s! I wanted to be in Hot Gossip but I wanted to be a ballet dancer as well. Neither dream was realised but I took it upon myself to take up tap dancing a couple of years ago. It’s certainly scratched that particular itch!
What advice would you give your children?
Be yourself. Try everything. Open your heart and your mind to whatever life throws at you.
What was the best piece of advice you ever received?
Two pearls of wisdom from my late father: ‘Never ever think you’re not good enough’ (said to me when I was about to go on a date with a guy who I thought was too good for me) and ‘The best time of my life was in my forties.’ When I hit my forties, I actually got what he meant. I’d had one child and then had another at 43. I also finally felt secure in myself. Sadly, that one will run out in two years time when I turn 50!
What are you most proud of?
My children who make me laugh every day (they also make me want to scream sometimes, too)! My bizarre career and where it’s led me, especially the amazing people I’ve met and the places I’ve visited. I certainly don’t think I would have got to do this had I not started modelling. Living in Japan and New York were highlights but I’ve shot in Bali, Thailand, South Africa and all over Europe.
Riding an elephant for a Tesco Mobile commercial was quite something and even now I go cold with fear at the thought of it! Passing my first tap exam and getting a medal was a very proud moment too. Our group started as beginners nearly three years ago and our first exam was in December 2014. We all passed with flying colours, which is a real achievement considering most of us hadn’t danced before.
Which one thing would you like to change about your industry/working life?
I think many industries, not just fashion, need to have a duty of care, not just for the physical wellbeing of young men and women but for the psychological care as well. It’s a subject I’m fascinated with and I hope to take a course in counselling to help young people with self esteem and body image issues.
What’s the biggest challenge you face in your day to day?
Feeding the children and staying awake!
Who is your favourite fictional female character?
Anna Karenina. My favourite book. Whilst I don’t agree with throwing oneself under a train, I think we all may, at some point, have been so consumed by love that it’s driven us mad. Anna is not a ‘heroine’ in the classic sense, perhaps the opposite, but giving up everything for the man she loves makes for a fascinating character and an incredible story.
Right Now I’m….
Watching: I’ve just watched War and Peace – beyond amazing and Deutchland 83. Both historically fascinating.
Reading: I’m just finishing ‘The Insult’ by Rupert Thomson. It was on David Bowie’s 100 favourite books list, so our book group thought it a fitting tribute to read it. A rather bizarre story but the flow and pace is incredible and it really draws you in.
Listening to: I’ve made a great dance music based playlist to listen to whilst running. It may not get listened to that often…
Pass It On
Who would you most like to see featured on this blog?
Fiona Gibson – writer @fiona_gib (Instagram) @FionaGibson (Twitter)
Charlie Brown – Co-owner of Vino Vero @charlievinovero (Instagram) @CharlieVinoVero (Twitter)
* Amazing! See below.