She was born October 2, 1970 in Stratford, New Jersey. Her father Joe, a labor union president, and her mother Esther, a
homemaker, eventually moved to Berlin, New Jersey, where Kelly grew up with younger sister Linda, now a children's book author.
Kelly's foray into show business was somewhat of a fluke. After performing in her senior high-school play, The Ugly Duckling, she was encouraged to pursue acting. She had studied ballet since age three and played the piano but had not considered entertaining as a career.
Ripa's first television exposure came when she appeared as a regular dancer first in local Philadelphia dance party show, Dancin' On Air. Later she appeared on a nationally syndicated dance show, Dance Party USA before she acquired her first major acting role in 1990 as goth teen turned suffering heroine Hayley Vaughan on the soap opera All My Children. While there, the character would become a popular fixture.