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Kelly Osbourne


Together with brother Jack, and parents Sharon and Ozzy, Kelly made her public debut at the age of 17 on The Osbournes. The reality show aired from 2002 to 2005 and broke records for MTV, reaching 7.8 million viewers. (For context, the most recent premiere of Keeping up with the Kardashians was watched by slightly above 1 million.) Simply put: famous families had not been chronicled in this way before and arguably haven't been since.
Kelly ascribes the show's massive popularity to its unvarnished approach. MTV commissioned two film crews each working 12-hour shifts, 24-hours a day, to record every moment of the family's day-to-day life. 

"Absolutely none of The Osbournes was planned," Kelly recalls. "We didn't set up anything. That's why it took so long, and we only did three seasons. Sometimes it would take six months to get a season because we didn't produce a moment." 

"They shoot all of these reality shows now in two weeks - an entire season of a reality show in two weeks." 

The Osbournes was revolutionary and unprecedented for its time, ushering in a genre that is now a mainstay of contemporary entertainment programming. 

"We were a real family that really lived together, that really loved each other, that really was fucked up," Kelly explains. 

Nearly two decades later, fans continue to call for the show's revival - a testament to this unconventional family's influence.

"We've been through absolutely everything that you can possibly imagine and somehow still come out alright. No matter what, we are a family that sticks by each other. We'll always be there to support one another and help each other through the hard times, but also celebrate when something great happens; those are the times I really look forward to." 

Kelly returned to her birthplace after the series ended. 

"I moved back to England for a very long time and hid away from America because I needed to find my own way, make a few mistakes on my own, and have my parents not protect me so much. I needed to burn my own bridges and rebuild them so that I could become an adult." 

A self-proclaimed tomboy, Kelly grew up in a small village in the quaint English countryside. The nearest store was a combined post office, bank, and food market.

"My parents were very strict. I wasn't allowed to swear when I lived in England. I wasn't allowed to say anything inappropriate. I wasn't even so much allowed to say 'fart' ... everyone already knew that my dad was a madman, so my mum never wanted to give people another excuse not to like us." (1)

"But when we moved to America, my mum was just like, 'fuck it, be who you want to be. I'm sick of it.'" 

The family moved to Southern California when Kelly was twelve. 

"It was completely bittersweet because I missed my friends, but I could walk to my local movie theatre, and I could walk down the street to the nearest stores. It wasn't a 25-minute drive to the nearest thing." 

But unlike in England, where Kelly attended an all-girls school with mandatory uniforms - which she credits with fostering a sense of inclusivity - the US was a little different: 

"When I went to America, I saw that school really was like the movie Clueless; the jocks hung out with the jocks, the rich kids hung out with the rich kids, and the nerds hung out with the nerds ... all these different cliques. I just could not for the life of me understand why." 

Much to her surprise, Kelly garnered a lot of attention and praise for her style on The Osbournes. 

"I always thought most people would just think I looked like an idiot because I didn't look like everyone else." 

Fashion mavens took notice of her unique style. Over the years, she has dabbled in the industry, designing a clothing line, and becoming the face of another. She's hosted Project Catwalk, Project Runway Junior, and most notably, the smash-hit Fashion Police with the legendary, dearly departed Joan Rivers. 

"For me, fashion has always been fun. As I've gotten older and become an adult, I've been able to have fun with fashion, try new things and wear the clothes that I wanted to wear but didn't know how to wear before," Kelly says. "To me, fashion is an extension of who I am. Fashion is fun, and you shouldn't take it so seriously." 

The reception has not always been warm over the course of her career. Tabloid reporters have spilled a fair amount of ink attacking Kelly's appearance, particularly her body. 

"I understand that being judged by others comes with the territory, but it broke my heart and ruined my self-esteem," she admits. "It sets you up to hate yourself in a huge way. I was so angry about the things people said about me. I truly believe it's the main reason I turned to Vicodin and ended up in rehab three times. I just hated myself." (2)

Kelly turned to opiates at 16. At one point, she was taking up to 50 pills each day. 

"I found, when I take this, people like me," she recalls. "I'm having fun, I'm not getting picked on. It became a confidence thing." Eventually it got to the point where, "the only way I could even face my life was by opening that pill bottle, shaking out a few pills - or a handful - into my palm and throwing them down my throat." (3) 

Her father, Ozzy, has also been open about his struggles with substance abuse, issues Kelly does not hold against him.

"I truly understand both sides of alcoholism and addiction. I've been the addict, and I've been the victim of an addict," Kelly explains. "I've also had many people been hurt because of my behaviour, so I see both sides of it."

"I know what it's like to sit there and have everything in my body telling me, 'unless I have this drink or take this pill, I'm going to die.' It's like World War 3 with yourself. I can't hold any resentment [towards] him. If I did, then what does that make me?" 

The public criticisms Kelly received led her to establish ground rules on Fashion Police - the cohosts would not joke weight or age. 

In 2017, Kelly decided to take control of her life and focus on becoming the best version of herself, regardless of shape or size.

"I went to therapy for the first six months, for about six hours a day. I was like, 'if I'm going to do this, I'm going to really do it.'" (4)

Today, she is sober and feeling healthier than ever. In her memoir, she writes, "Now, I manage pain through creativity, friendship, and self-care. The crazier my life gets, the more focused I become on the things that make me feel good." 

Kelly has long been a champion of the queer community, lending her support to various LGBTQ+ charities and initiatives. On the morning of our interview, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled a critical part of the Defence of Marriage Act (DOMA) to be unconstitutional. This ruling would grant same-sex couples access to the same federal marriage benefits as heterosexual couples.

"I couldn't have woken up to better news, honestly," she says, relieved. "It's something that is just ridiculous; I come from a country where people have been able to get married for quite some time now." 

"The reason why it's so mind-blowing is because people use it as a political soapbox, and you can't toy with people's lives like that." 

In 2019, Kelly hosted the British LGBT Awards. Prior to the event, she explained what straight allyship means to her: "It's lending my voice to a community that has helped create who I am, and helped me become who I am." (5)

"Whenever I've felt ugly and unworthy, it was the gay community that embraced those things," she added. "The things society told me were ugly and not pretty." (5)

Growing up in the entertainment industry, the queer community was a major part of her upbringing and development as a performer.

"I've never, ever, ever, not been around gay people my entire life. People say behind every great woman is a great man ... behind every great person is a great gay, let me tell you!" 

One particular role model is Sir Elton John, who recently collaborated with her father, Ozzy, on Ordinary Man, a single released this year.

"He's played a huge role in my life and my family's life. He and David Furnish are so incredible with the work they do with the Elton John AIDS Foundation. They've always been a shoulder to cry on, there to give whatever advice you may need." (5)

Catch up with Kelly on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. You can order her 2017 autobiography here.

Interview Recorded: 2012. | Updated: 2022

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