Moira Kelly is an American actress famous for her roles in the film ‘The Cutting Edge’, and the teen drama ‘One Tree Hill’. She provided the voice for Nala in the Disney animated musical film ‘The Lion King’ and its sequels ‘The Lion King II: Simba's Pride’ and ‘The Lion King 1½’. A native of New York, Kelly has been acting since she was a child. However, it was not her initial choice as a profession. Deeply religious, she grew up in a Catholic household and wanted to become a nun. It was only after performing in her high school’s production of ‘Annie’ in 1984 that she decided to pick acting over being a nun. In 1991, she made her screen debut in the miniseries ‘Love, Lies and Murder’. She had her big screen debut that year as well, in ‘The Boy Who Cried Bitch’. Over the course of her three-decade-long career, she has played memorable roles in TV shows like ‘To Have & to Hold’, ‘The West Wing’, and ‘Law & Order’. As a member of ‘The West Wing’ cast, Kelly was one of the recipients of the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series in 2001.
Hailing from a family of devout Catholics, Moira Kelly’s early aspiration was to become a nun. That changed after she was cast as Miss Hannigan in her high school’s 1984 production of ‘Annie’. She was initially supposed to play a small role, but after the girl cast as Miss Hannigan got sick, Kelly substituted her.
Kelly debuted on the small screen in the 1991 miniseries ‘Love, Lies and Murder’, playing a young girl named Cinnamon Brown, whose father convinces her to murder his wife and her stepmother. Not long after, she had her cinematic debut in Juan José Campanella’s drama thriller ‘The Boy Who Cried Bitch’. After she landed the role of Donna Hayward in ‘Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me’ (1992), she reached out to her priest to seek permission from him as the role required her to take part in an explicit sex scene. That year, she worked with D. B. Sweeney in the romantic comedy ‘The Cutting Edge’ and essayed two roles, including that of Oona O'Neill Chaplin, in the biopic ‘Chaplin’. For her 1993 TV movie ‘Daybreak’, she once more spoke to her priest, as she was portraying a girl who has premarital sex.
She voiced the adult version of Simba’s love interest Nala in Disney's ‘The Lion King’ (1994), ‘The Lion King II: Simba's Pride’ (1998), and ‘The Lion King 1½’ (2004). She also provided the voice for the character in the video games ‘Animated StoryBook: The Lion King’ (1994) and ‘The Lion King II: Simba's Pride Active Play’ (1998).
Kelly has been prominently active in the indie scene as well. She played social activist Dorothy Day in ‘Entertaining Angels: The Dorothy Day Story’ (1996) and shared screen space with Glenn Close in ‘The Safety of Objects’ (2001). She starred as Helen Keller in the TV movie ‘Monday After the Miracle’. In 1998, she portrayed the role of Annie Cornell in CBS’ short-lived drama series ‘To Have & to Hold’. In Aaron Sorkin’s ‘The West Wing’, she was cast as the recurring character Mandy Hampton. In 2008, she appeared in a season 18 episode of ‘Law & Order’ as the episode antagonist. She was previously featured in the show in an episode of its second season, playing an uncredited role of a policewoman.
In 2014, she was featured as Donna Hayward once more in ‘Twin Peaks: The Missing Pieces’, a feature-length collection of deleted and extended scenes from ‘Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me’. Some of her other film credits are ‘Henry Hill’ (1999), ‘Two Tickets to Paradise’ (2006), and ‘Remember the Daze’ (2007).
Kelly’s Karen Roe was one of the main characters in the first four seasons of ‘The WB’s (later The CW) ‘One Tree Hill’. From the fifth season, she was designated to a recurring role. Kelly also served as the director of two episodes of the show: ‘Resolve’ (2007) and ‘I Slept with Someone in Fall Out Boy and All I Got Was This Stupid Song Written About Me’ (2006).
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Family & Personal Life
Born on March 6, 1968, in Queens, New York, USA, Kelly is the third of six children of concert violinist Peter Kelly and nurse Anne Kelly. Her parents relocated from Ireland to the United States prior to her birth. She, her brother Paul, and her four other siblings grew up in Ronkonkoma, a hamlet in Long Island, New York. After graduating from Connetquot Senior High School in Bohemia, Long Island in 1986, she began studying at Marymount Manhattan College. She did several odd jobs to support herself during her college years. Kelly has inherited at least some part of her father’s musical talent. She can play the violin, drums, and flute.
Kelly exchanged wedding vows with Texan businessman Stephen Eric Hewitt on August 5, 2000. Their first child, a daughter whom they named Ella, was born in 2001. The couple welcomed their son Eamon into the world in 2003. The family presently resides in Flower Mound, Texas.