Tiffani Refused To Date Actors (February, 2011)

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Brady and Tiffani TogetherFOR a time actress Tiffani Thiessen refused to date actors. After all, the beauty, who'd played the vixen Valerie Malone on "Beverly Hills, 90210," had been linked with several during her career.


But seven years ago she was coaxed into a blind date. And voila! She fell for another actor.

"When I met him I knew he was going to be the father of my children," she says over breakfast in a sunny coffee shop here.

"I'd never ever been on a blind date before, that's what's so funny. It was set up by a friend. She was an actor as well, and had met him when they were doing a TV show together.

"I'd made that rule a year before that. I said, 'No more actors!' We got married in July, 2005 and had our first baby the summer of 2010."

Thiessen had countermanded her rule for actor Brady Smith ("Castle," "Harry's Law"), who pops in the door of the restaurant, pushing a stroller with chubby-cheeked, 7-month-old Harper in tow. Smith slides into the next table, and loosens the blanket around Harper, who smiles when she sees her mother.

"What made it a little different with him, he was also a painter," says Thiessen, cooing to Harper. "So I thought he wasn't the typical actor and only an actor, he had other aspirations in his life. That's why I was open to it."

The couple lives only a few blocks away and makes a go of their relationship by encouraging and supporting each other in whatever they want to do. Thiessen recently started a baby furniture and bedding company with an interior designer partner. Smith says he was all for it.

"I have full and complete confidence in my wife just because I know she's smart and she wouldn't tackle anything that she didn't think she could handle," he says, then backs off saying, "It's her interview. I'm just here with the baby."

While others might still see Thiessen as the doe-eyed ingenue, she's all grown up now. And as the wife of FBI agent Peter Burke on USA's "White Collar," she proves it.

Laughing, she says, "The whole first half of the season last year, I wasn't in it that much and it was because I was pregnant, and I was here in Los Angeles (they film in New York) and they only shot me in one scene each episode. And they shot me from my boobs up. Most people knew from the news, but they never showed it on the show."

Sipping her cafe latte, she says, "I've been doing this for a very, very long time — almost 26, 27 years now, and it's truly one of my most favorite jobs that I've had in a really long time. I truly say that because I adore everybody that's on that show — all the guys — we get along very well. I feel very blessed, I have to say."

At 37, Thiessen has been acting most of her life. She started in kiddie commercials then moved to TV and film. At one point she thought she'd had enough, she says. "In my mid-20s I went through a phase where I had a break in work and wasn't working a little bit there. I'd spent a lot of time in Montana, and I fell in love with the mountains and the simple life and nature and wanting to be away from Los Angeles.

"And here was a point that I almost was: 'I'm kind of over it.' But I didn't quit. I'd gone to Montana for a friend's wedding and fell in love with the area and the mountains. I almost bought a place. I almost moved. It would've been a huge step," she sighs.

Instead, she stuck it out and eventually met her husband. Thiessen says that she and Smith are never competitive about work. "Ups and downs are common to every marriage," she says. "Sometimes my mom's very busy and maybe my dad's not so much or maybe vice-versa. I think that's marriage. We're very good about making sure that WE are the priority. And it doesn't matter about the other stuff.

"He came with me last year when we were in New York. He didn't want to be without Harper. But he's an actor, he can work in New York, which he did. He shot two movies while we were there.

"Sticking together is very important to us," she adds, "because we have very good role models and a lot of people give up too easily. It's one of the hardest relationships, I think. You're living with somebody (of) the opposite sex who couldn't be more different from you.

"So the give-and-take that we have to give to each other is extremely important. Brady's taught me to be much more vulnerable. I don't think I was vulnerable when I met him. I was a pretty tough cookie, because I was on my own for a long time and I traveled a lot and he showed me that part of a marriage is showing each other your vulnerable side. I think I ease him a little. The bigger picture is important and the messy little things don't matter."

"White Collar" airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. EST.