Birthplace: Glenview, Illinois
You Know Her As: A model who carries the #11 briefcase on the TV game show, “Deal or No Deal.” She also was in the first season of the reality TV show, “America’s Next Top Model.”
Did you know?: Cleary attended Carthage College in Kenosha and received her Bachelor’s Degree in Business and Marketing in 2004.
On Sept. 21, 1981, Katie Cleary was born in Glenview, IL, a suburb of Chicago. An only child, she was raised by her mother and lived with two cats; her father and grandparents were close by and were important to her life. Cleary gained much strength and confidence from her mother’s hard work, love and determination.
“If it wasn’t for my mother’s support and strength, I would never have the drive to do what I am doing today,” says Cleary on her web site.
Since she was small, Cleary dreamed of the glamour of Hollywood- and wanted to be part of it.
While she attended high school, she also did work modeling in Chicago. Luckily, her mother fully supported her desire to model. Cleary made it into such magazines as YM and Seventeen, as well as a Freshlook Contact Lens ad and the Bloomingdale’s/ Nordstrom Spring Runway.
After she graduated, she moved north to Kenosha to attend Carthage College, a liberal arts college. Again, Cleary worked part-time as a model while studying at school. She made it onto TV for the first time on MTV’s Fashionably Loud and helped with promotional events for Stuff Magazine. She was in local news, like the cover of UR Chicago Magazine, as well as nationally-circulated Lingerie Playboy, US, FHM, Soak and Stuff Magazines. She actually made it into quite a few Playboy Magazines, starting with a special college edition (but wasn’t allowed to wear anything that said Carthage).
A big break occurred for Cleary in 2003 when she appeared on the first season of “America’s Next Top Model” on UPN. She had a web site at the time and one day got an email tip from someone telling her about “ANTM.” So she researched a bit, sent in an audition tape and then got a call back from host and producer Tyra Banks herself!
“I didn’t believe it was her. ‘This isn’t Tyra, get outta here!’ And she’s like, ‘Yeah, pack your bags, you’re going to LA,’ ” Cleary said in an interview with Murray in the Morning.
However, her time on the show was short lived. She was the second person to leave the show. According to the judges she was too “Maxim hot” to be a top model. Cleary thinks that her history with Playboy may have hurt her chances on the show.
When asked why she returned to finish her last year of college instead of riding her wave of success, Cleary told Murray in the Morning, “You can’t depend on that. It’s not something you can depend on. God forbid, something happens. You always want something to back you up.”
In 2004 she graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business and Marketing from Carthage.
“Don’t let anything get in the way of your dreams! You can do anything if you put your mind to it!” Cleary says of her drive and determination.
The summer after she graduated, she took a real estate position in Chicago. When not working, Cleary also enrolled in acting classes and worked on a few movie sets while going to auditions. As it seems, this was a busy time but important in order to get a foot in the industry.
More recently, Cleary has had bit parts on such movies as “Derailed,” “Stranger than Fiction,” “The Lake House” and “The Break Up,” some of which were filmed in Chicago. On TV she has also had bit roles on several TV shows, such as “Scrubs” and “CSI: Miami.” Cleary has experience as a host on “Ripe Live,” “The TV Guide Channel” and as co-host for the show “Get Out,” which appeared on HDTV.
Perhaps her longest-running part, however, is on NBC’s hit game show “Deal or No Deal”. Ever since the show first aired in 2005, Cleary has been the model holding the #11 briefcase.
Aside from acting, another one of Katie’s passions is her love for animals. She will often visit sanctuaries to volunteer her services, which further demonstrates her love for animals. At one time in her life, she organized a fundraiser by gathering ten different humane societies together to raise money to support animal rescue and abuse centers.
One day, Katie hopes to open up her own rescue center for unwanted or abused domestic and exotic animals. As she said on her website, “Life is about finding your passion in the world to make a difference.”
In her spare time, Cleary choses to stay active and keeps her body in shape by hiking, running, or going to the beach for a game of volleyball with friends.
According to Katie in an interview through NBC.com, the next step in her career is to focus all her attention on acting, either by starting in a film or television series.
Biography by Stacy Raduechel