Thiessen is good playing the bad girl on What About Brian

By Amy Amatangelo / Monday, March 19, 2007 / Source

Tiffani Thiessen isn't a bad girl, but she does play one on TV.

From her career-defining role as Valerie Malone on "Beverly Hills, 90210" to her latest job as sexy, cutthroat executive Natasha Drew on "What About Brian" (tonight at 10 on WCVB, Ch. 5), Thiessen gives every series a shot of adrenaline.

"I think (Natasha) is someone ideally all working women can relate to," Thiessen said. "We always try to strive to be strong. I definitely respect a lot about her."

Thiessen was on a trip to Texas with her husband, actor Brady Smith, when she got the call about "Brian."

"A couple of my girlfriends are huge, dire fans of the show," she said. "They actually pretty much threatened me and said if I didn't take the job, they wouldn't be friends with me anymore."

"I love Tiffani," said "Brian" executive producer Josh Reims. "We wanted a ("thirtysomething") Miles Drentell character who is a girl. We basically wanted someone to come in and touch everybody on the show. We knew she could come in and shake things up, and she's somebody you want to watch."

The 33-year-old Long Beach, Calif., native began acting as a child (she was Kelly on "Saved by the Bell") and has been working ever since.

"I wish I could say I have the secret little phrase to give everyone, but I don't," she said. "I struggle, too. We all do. The business is still changing to this day. It's different than it was 20 years ago. It's different than it was 10 years ago, and it's different than it was three years ago, especially with reality TV and all of that. I think it's actually harder for actors now. And you put the woman aspect on it, and I think it's even harder for women as we get older. It's sad to say, but I think its true."

Thiessen started her own company, Tit 4 Tat Productions, in 2003.

"I have not wanted to put all my eggs in one basket — the acting basket. I've wanted to do other things, like directing and producing and writing."

She's writing a series of children's books inspired by her pets ("Fins & Tales"), has a reality TV show about proms in the works and is hoping to turn the short film she produced and directed ("Just Pray") into a full-length feature. She credits her family for helping her survive the cutthroat entertainment world.

"This business can wear on you," she said. "So you kind of have to look at it as a comedy itself. You can work with nasty people and you can work with people who are wearing. I take it in stride, and I take it with a grain of salt. Because if you take it too seriously, you'll never be able to keep going with it. I always try to believe. I keep my priorities in check, and my family is my No. 1 priority, no matter what. I really don't stress about having to work because ultimately it is the bigger picture that matters. I'm really blessed in so many ways."