About - Valli Kemp Official Website

Go to content

Main menu:


Valli Kemp -  The story of my life in the limelight - and where I came from
  My start in life all started in Nairobi, Kenya, where my father had an abattoir in a place called Molo, the land of trees as they call it.  He also had a huge shop in Nairobi called ’’Kemp’s Food store ‘’.

I was born late in their life , and I am sure I remember arriving with a thud after travelling through time past trillions of stars  (I had this nightmare for most of my childhood) so fast it felt like I could not breath. 

My life in kenya was idyllic,  a farm and a house in Nairobi. Both had beautiful house, but I preferred the farm as I had my pussy cats, which I tamed like a lion tamer from being wild, and my little african mates - we called them toh toh’s - we used to run wild through the bushes,  and, I suppose, the sort of jungle near our house, barefooted, getting big black thorns stuck in our feet sometimes, which stung like hell, but we just kept going, peeping at large ant eaters, eating ants, and scavenger birds, eating carcasses, climbing trees, hanging upside down by our knees like little monkeys. 

We did not like toys, we played with old bike wheels and a stick, rolling it down hills and we also made soapbox cars out of old boxes. We also used to cook corn ,ie mealies on open fires, carefree and wild we were, it was perfect. My father had a canning factory and we employed lots of Africans.  One day I said to my father why cant we build them some houses as they dont have ones like us, he did that and they were very nice terrace houses joined together.....on the first night he said lets see how they are enjoying them. When we arrived at 10pm we were very amused and laughing, there were all the boys sitting around the campfire drinking their African drink called Pocho, some getting ready to sleep under the stars and ......wait for it ... their animals were all nicely tucked up in their new houses ....goats, cows, chickens,  dogs, in luxury, of the brand new homes.......but we just laughed it was what they wanted to do.

I also had a lovely be bee looking after me in the house, she was my sort of nanny, very sweet.
Then things began to change......a lot of bad things were happening around us, there was talk of the Mau Mau, I am telling it how I saw it as a 5 or 6 year old, not through the eyes of an adult ........first my Bee bee never came home and some of the boys disappeared , they ran away because they were scared of retaliation from the Mau’s Mau’s. I felt my parents panic, me, big ears, always listening around corners, we travelled to Molo, the farm, my father very sombre...... I remember him putting tin cans on strings around the house at night, a makeshift alarm system, and the worst memory was ... I had a bedroom in the attic and he showed me where there was a gun in the cupboard in case of attack, and how to hide in there, then he got his rifle and sat next to the window and pointed it at his beloved dog baloo tethered to a tree a long way away, me shouting" Dad Why??" 
And he said because he the dog would not see his master doing it and he would die in peace, there were no vets in molo .....

In the morning I woke up to the most horrendous sight for a little girl , my pussy cats were nailed to the wooden wall of the house by their ears, and the cows in the fields back legs were hacked off, and they were still partly alive.  The Mau Mau were committing diabolical mass killings of white people and black people, mostly hacking them with pangers - large knives. 
We packed our bags and got the first plane to London. My family lost everything, we arrived in London penniless, with one suitcase, and lived in boarding houses for a while till my dad opened a butcher shop in Paddington.
We ended up living in Maida Vale In a flat and I went to a school called St Saviours ,there was a lot of poverty in those days in London so me and my one skirt summer and winter did not stand out, and we were given lunch at school almost for free , a far cry from my idyllic life in Molo , running wild with the TooToo’s.  The boys my age teased me, I was teased from the age of 7 to 11 about living in the jungle with the monkey’s - at that age it hurt - they also said I looked like a boy ie Mick Jagger, I became very withdrawn and shy, but I had a wonderful teacher when I was 11, his name was Mr Ferris and he mentored me from last place in the class to 2nd in the class  - I wanted to be a surgeon things were going well.......then one day it all collapsed , I was told we were immigrating to Australia on the Orion boat......I cried all the way to Australia......
I was 12 when we arrived, we were put in a hostel, in a place called Dundas, all little tin sheds with a few beds, millions of flies, and 100 degree heat......shared toilets with hundreds, it was a hell hole.  Went to a local school for a while, never getting over my shock of new jibes, this time it was my accent they laughed at. Eventually my dad bought a boarding house in a place called Ashfield, and another school.....more teasing except for the art teacher whom gave me the key to her art room to paint whenever I wanted as she thought I was a talent - I thank her - eventually one day I could take no more, the different schools, the different life style, the teasing.........I realized I would not be a surgeon any more, so I told my dad at the age of 13, ‘’ I am not going back to school ‘’ and he being not able to resist his strong willed daughter, said ok then get a job first..........I got a job sweeping floors in a hat factory in one day, then a couple of months later, a job dressing the dummies in girdles and bra’s for the shop windows, then at the age of 14 I was discovered by a photographer for Australasian Post - I did 27 front pages for them over a small time - they eventually found out how young I was but it was too late to worry, after that it was a full on list of fab.. Work.....TV shows........TV commercials........TV soapies........films made in australia, one being The Games , with Ryan O'neal , directed, by Micheal Winner.  A whirlwind of success, but a terrible love life, I lived with my parents, thank goodness, but I had a handful of nice friends men and woman, that got me by.

 I was quite happy how my career was going in Australia, then one day, a knock came to my parents door, it was a rep from the Miss World Australia, asking me if I would please compete in their contest.
I was very hesitant, as it might jeopardize all my hard work as I was very established in Australia, so I said give me a week to think about it......my parents talked me into it, said ask them to send you to LA as a bonus to see your dream .. Walt Disney's house andDisneyland......they agreed 

After all the publicity, I had a call from Sir Robert Helpmann.......the famous ballet dancer and actor director........an icon in Australia.
He asked me to meet him at the Chevron where he was staying. He gave me a long talk, told me I had what it takes, just never give up, and he then directed me in a screen test for Paramount........a wonderful man and mentor.

I cruised through the Miss Australia thing, treating it as a job and experience,  meeting new people etc.
Then after all this, I was flown to L.A, to see my Disneyland and do a few TV shows. Americans were charming to me. showed me around,  met some movie stars, Clint Eastwood, Henry Fonda and more........all very nice 

Funny the Americans treated me like a daughter..........stand up straight they all said, helping me to be more confident,ha........I really liked it there. 
Soon .....Off to London 

Copyright 2015. All rights reserved.
Back to content | Back to main menu