Tiffany Amber Thiessen - Biography
Tiffani Thiessen (born Tiffani-Amber
Thiessen; January 23, 1974) is an American actress best known for her
roles as Kelly Kapowski in Saved by the Bell and as Valerie Malone in
Beverly Hills, 90210. She is also known for her role on Fastlane as
Wilhelmina 'Billie' Chambers. As of 2009, she plays the role of Elizabeth
Burke, in White Collar. After many years of going by her full name,
Tiffani-Amber Thiessen, she is now credited as simply Tiffani Thiessen.
Thiessen was born in Long Beach, California, the daughter of Robyn, a
homemaker, and Frank Thiessen, a park designer and landscape architect.
She has two siblings; an older brother named Todd, an actor and avid
professional cyclist, and a younger brother named Schuyler. Her father is
of German descent and her mother is of Turkish and Welsh descent. Thiessen
told InStyle magazine: "I'm a mutt. I have so much of everything in me,
and half of it I don't even know. German on one side, Turkish and Welsh on
the other. My mom is very olive-skinned; I get my blue eyes from my dad.".
She credits her brother, Todd, as one of her most important sources of
inspiration, and her mother and grandmother as role models. She attended
Cubberley Elementary and Marshall Junior High School in Long Beach. In
1992, Thiessen graduated as valedictorian at Valley Professional High
School in Studio City, Los Angeles, California. Her uncle, Roger Ernest,
attended college with Steven Spielberg and co-wrote one of his student
films called Slipstream. Her uncle also appeared in Close Encounters of
the Third Kind and The Sugarland Express, playing a police officer in both
films. Ernest was the first person to suggest that Thiessen enter show
After a childhood of beauty pageants, Thiessen was crowned Miss Junior
America in 1987 and a year later won Teen magazine's "Great Model Search"
in 1988, by gracing the cover of that issue. At the age of fifteen, she
auditioned for the role of Kelly Kapowski on the television show Saved by
the Bell, which was highly publicized and received a great deal of fanfare
from the same magazine that discovered her. In the end, Thiessen's
publicity from that magazine had landed her the role. Her character was
popular on the show and within the youth-oriented industry. As a result,
she was nominated for, but did not win, the Young Artist Award for
Outstanding Young Ensemble Cast. also being nominated in 1989, 1991, and
1992. The show was so successful that the six main cast members were
immortalized in toy form of a 12 inch doll that was created individually
for each character's likeness. She continued to play Kelly Kapowski, in
the short-lived spin-off, Saved by the Bell: The College Years. To broaden
her visibility on television, Thiessen began making television appearances
with guest starring roles on several television shows and television
movies, as well as in film. Including Saved by the Bell: Hawaiian Style
(1992), A Killer Among Friends (1992), Son in Law (1993), and Saved by the
Bell: Wedding in Las Vegas (1994). During her years while on Saved by the
Bell, Thiessen was seen in guest roles on such shows as Charles in Charge
(1990), Married... with Children (1990), The Hogan Family (1990), Step by
Step (1992), and The Powers That Be (1992).
After her tenure on Saved by the Bell, ended in 1994, prolific producer
Aaron Spelling then cast Thiessen in the hit teen-drama Beverly Hills,
90210 playing the bad girl vixen Valerie Malone (1994-1998). Thiessen then
began to take on dramatic roles in several made-for-television movies,
including The Stranger Beside Me (1995), She Fought Alone (1995), Sweet
Dreams (1996), and Buried Secrets (1996). Thiessen later guest-starred on
NewsRadio (1999) and the sitcom Two Guys and a Girl and starred in the
short-lived action drama series Fastlane. She also guest-starred on Just
Shoot Me! (2001) playing Amy Watson and the short-lived Good Morning,
Miami (2003-2004) playing Victoria Hill. Unfortunately, her transition
into film has not gone well thus far, as most of her movies have been
universally panned by film critics. In 2002, she appeared in the film
Hollywood Ending, directed by Hollywood veteran, Woody Allen.
In 2005, Thiessen directed a 21-minute short film entitled, Just Pray. It
placed at several film festivals and was the first major effort from her
latest production company, Tit 4 Tat Productions.
In January 2007, Thiessen joined the cast of ABC's drama What About Brian,
playing the boss of Brian, and a potential love interest for Adam.
However, in May 2007, ABC officially canceled the series.
Then on December 2, 2008, TV Guide reported that Thiessen was cast in
White Collar, a new USA Network television pilot.
Thiessen appeared as a celebrity client for Lonni Paul, one of the final
three contestants on the season 4 HGTV interior designing reality series
Design Star, on the September 6, 2009 episode. Interior designer Lonni
Paul was given the task of redesigning Thiessen's guest bedroom with an
eco-friendly theme. Her husband Brady Smith also appears in this episode.
During the early and mid-1990s she dated Brian Austin Green.
From October 2001 to March 2003, she was engaged to actor Richard Ruccolo,
whom she had met during the Two Guys and a Girl run.
She married actor Brady Smith on July 9, 2005. The couple announced on
November 9, 2009 that they are expecting their first child in May 2010.
Tiffany Amber Thiessen - Personal Quotes
"There are too many rotten
things in this world, and if I can put a smile on one little girl's
face, one little boy's face, then I've done my job." - on acting
professionally in show business
"My mom always taught me to be sweet and polite and cross my legs
because it's what the guys like. Actually, they like a raunchy girl
once in a while." - being a feminine woman
People expect me to be thin and perfect... I'm not.
My dog and two cats are such a vital part of my life. To say that I
am their owner doesn't reflect at all the profound bond and
responsibility that I have towards them. Therefore, I thoroughly
support In Defense of Animals' initiative to utilize 'guardian'
instead of owner.
I've seen the effects of drugs too often. My brother had a big
problem with them for five years. He's better now, but I've never
needed or wanted to be involved with them.
It's much more interesting to play the bitch.
When you interact with someone you always take something from them
I'm a pretty big clothes horse. I shop for clothes constantly. I do
so much shopping. I should go to Shoppers Anonymous
The weight issues is a huge one that arises almost in every woman.
But I don't think it's increased it's always been there. Since the
1920's women have been encouraged to be thin. But even that is
dictated by fashion. It alternates between being really skinny and
I wake up every morning and I'm thankful for what I have. I've been
blessed with a lot of wonderful things and I try to reflect on that
every chance I can
"I was never clean, prissy and perfect like Kelly, and I was never a
pot-smoking slut like Valerie. Kelly was the cheerleader and the
perfect girl next door, and being that I grew up in the business, I
never went to school. I was never a cheerleader. I never went to the
prom. I didn't have any of those experiences".
I love to shop for lingerie! My drawer for my lingerie is probably
as big as my drawer for sweats and jeans. It's really huge.
I would love to be totally thin and be able to eat whatever I like,
but I don't have a problem with my body. I like my body. I don't
want to make myself crazy watching my weight.
It's never really been a hard thing for me for some reason. After
the first time, it was, like, no big deal. All the guys on 90210
treat me with total respect. They don't try anything.
"I was definitely surprised when I won, 'cause that year those girls
were absolutely gorgeous." On winning in Teen Magazine
I've collected pigs since I was really little, miniature pigs and
stuff like that
In this business, you've got to take a lot of rejection-and you
can't take it personally. If you're not chosen, you're either not
ready or not right for it. My mom used to tell me that a quitter
never wins, and a winner never quits. And that's something I've
always gone by.
I'm a very spiritual person and to know that now women are able to
do just as much as men is really great...Working for myself and
being young and being a woman, I can finally get respect from
people...I mean I've got my own house, I've got my career
set--nobody can tell me I can't do it.
My brother Todd's been a really big inspiration to me. He's had a
lot of problems, and how he's come out of it is just amazing.
Knowing someone who's been at the bottom and completely restructured
themselves...makes me think I could do anything. I have total
respect for him.
Since I'm into modeling, I know young girls always try to watch
their weight and what they look like. And it is important to some
extent but...I've known girls who have gone through a lot of
problems with dieting, and it's not worth it. It's terrible to think
that our society has to be tall, skinny and beautiful. It's really
horrible that we have to look like that and it's not worth it. It
really isn't. I've met a lot of beautiful people who don't have
"I would never do another one but at the time it was fun."- On
entering a beauty pageant contest
I just want to keep playing something different each time out.It is
the same thing most actors want in their careers; the chance to do a
variety of characters. Otherwise, you end up playing the same
character over and over again until it gets downright boring. That's
not how I want to spend my life.
"To us, it was this cute little show that was on against a bunch of
cartoons on Saturday morning. None of us expected it to last very
long. We didn't realize anything big was happening until our first
personal appearance, and then we were shocked out of our minds. We
went to a mall and there were 4,000 screaming kids waiting for us.
They were tearing off our clothes and begging for the cups of water
that we were drinking from. We kept looking at each other in
amazement. We had no idea this was happening, and I still don't
understand it." On the success of "Saved by the Bell" (1989).
The winner never loses, and the loser never wins.
"Honestly, I enjoy food. And I'm never going to be stick thin like
Kate Moss. But, I don't eat like a pig".
"They never let me hold the Barbie I only got to hold Ken. I guess I
wasn't blonde enough".
I really don't have a career plan. I like being challenged and
thrown around. But it's only acting.
I'm very grateful for what I have been given and wouldn't change
anything. I feel that we are given everything we have for a reason,
both good and bad, and that we learn from them. This is what gives
I think people in the entertainment field have no privacy. All the
tabloids want to see is a person fail at something.
It was so much fun going from playing a good girl to a bad girl.
I like playing Valerie. She's a chameleon. One moment she's charming
and the next she's a 'you know what'. I like her because she's so
two-sided -- she's two different characters in one.
I always feel that everything you do in life is a learning
experience and that you become a wiser person for it.
It's definitely difficult but it's kind of the price you pay when
you're in this kind of business. And I wouldn't trade it for
I really don't look at my life as being an accomplishment. I'm just
very thankful for what I've been given.
I'd say I've enjoyed every role that I've done in my life.
"Jennie Garth is my closest friend".
I like a man to be romantic, have a sense of humor, independent,
definitely and have definite goals for himself.
"If you work with Aaron Spelling and he likes you, you'll always
work for Aaron. And believe me, that's not a bad thing".
If I didn't work out, it'd be a disaster. The weight issue has been
a really big thing for me all my life. I come from an overweight
family, and in this business, it's something you simply can't be. I
love eating, but I work out six days a week, usually for an hour and
What do I wanna do 10 years from now? I love doing TV and I hope I
can do it as long as I can. Some day I want to get married and have
a family. And I would love to travel. I want to go back to Australia
If it were right for the role, I'd do it. If it was `lose weight
just to lose weight,' they'd get a nice 'no thanks!'
I think guys are intimidated by any woman who appears to be strong.
Now women are so independent, which I am. But I try to solve that by
asking men out. I'm not going to wait.
I've had to struggle with my weight since I was 17. There's a lot of
added pressure because I work with so many beautiful, thin people,
and I've been asked to lose weight before by producers. It really
hurts but that's part of what this business is about. People expect
me to be thin and perfect and I'm not.
"We have one of those friendships that started long ago, so I'm
really thankful for it, and I know I'll have it for the rest of my
life." On her friendship with Jennie Garth.
It's kind of the same thing with TV and film. I enjoy both! I think
they're both difficult and rewarding in different ways and I would
like to keep up with both sides to keep it going.
"I love her like a sister, "I tell her everything." On best friend
"I mean there's things I'm embarrassed about, but I don't think I'm
ever ashamed of anything just because my family tried to teach me,
when I was young, that I should never be upset or feel bad about the
decisions I make, in my life, and that you learn from them and you
move on. So I don't think I can honestly say that I'm ashamed on
something. I've been embarrassed about certain things, in my life,
but never ashamed. We're all human, you know! We make mistakes, but
we learn from them.
"When someone can make me laugh from like the inside out, that's
usually when I feel the most happy. And it's usually coming from my
boyfriend, my family and my closest friend".
My first date ever was actually with my very first boyfriend. We
ended up being together for quite awhile, four and a half years. But
it was actually with his sister who was quite older - a lot older
than him, kind of like a guardian and...my mother, that was my first
date and we went to the movies. It was really funny because, you
know, they were actually saying 'we'll let you sit away from us and
we'll sit back' and I'm like 'okay that's gonna be REALLY strange.
So why don't you just sit with us and we'll watch the movie and
we'll go home.
"I'll never forget that reading; it was an amazing experience. You
come into the room and look over and see this amazing genius sitting
there, this legend. It was all very exciting, but to this day, I
still don't know what the movie is about. That's just how Woody
works." On Woody Allen and the film Hollywood Ending (2002).
It was so funny cause like the first time they gave me a gun to
shoot they were like 'Do you know how to shoot this?' And I'm like,
'Yeah, my dad taught me when I was 17'. And they're like 'What!?' Ya
know? So this character is so much like me that it's actually kinda
fun you know."
"It's a very sweet, simple story, It is something that has been very
close to my heart for a long time. The hardest part was finally
saying yes and committing; it was the producing side that was harder
for me, trying to find a company we could trust and produce it with
us.Everybody remembers you from your last five minutes, and I don't
think people took me seriously. Being a woman doesn't help, and
having people remember me from the types of shows that I've done
doesn't either. But I never like things to come easy, and this
wasn't."- On her first producing project Just Pray (2005)
I don't know if I prefer one or the other. I can't really
say,they're both really challenging, and they're both really fun.
Luckily I have a very type-A personality and I'm very observant of
my surroundings,I think that's probably because I'm a woman and
because I am an actress. I tend to watch what I do, and like any
good actor, you constantly watch your surroundings and you listen to
your fellow actors. I think that really helped me. Anytime I was on
the set as an actress, I was always that girl who sat next to the
camera and was like, `What does that do? What does this do?' And for
years and years I was like that, but that was just me being curious.
Luckily it paid off in the long run.
"It's not uncommon for actors to get involved in the development and
production side of the camera. Look at Drew Barrymore and her Flower
Films or Sandra Bullock and Fortis Films. The list goes on. Having
spent so many years on sets, working with different levels of
material and building so many relationships with people, I felt
capable and prepared to create a business entity that would allow me
to direct and produce while complimenting my acting career. To
remain stagnate and only focus on acting would be short sighted.
And, since I love the business and it's all I've ever known, it was
a natural progression to start such a company".
"Since I started out very young, I definitely knew where he was
coming from, and I knew his attention span was probably a lot
shorter than us adults. I had to play with that and work with that,
but he really did give a beautiful performance."
"It was such a perfect day and a perfect weekend. We had such an
amazing time with our friends and our family and seriously, not one
thing went wrong. We were very blessed to have everything go so
beautifully. Every time I think about it, I get giddy." On her
wedding to Brady Smith
"We did the killing scene in one day - I was so drained I got back
to the hotel and went, 'Masseuse!" - On filming A Killer Among
Friends (1992) (TV)
"I'm a very free spirit; there are two sides to me, completely. If I
could take you into my closet, you'd go, 'Yep, you're right.' It's
split right down the middle. I have just as many sweatshirts as I
have sweaters. I have just as many jeans as I have black pants."
Tiffany Amber Thiessen - Filmography
"White Collar" .... Elizabeth
Burke (12 episodes, 2009-2010)
- Bottlenecked (2010) TV episode .... Elizabeth Burke
- Home Invasion (2010) TV episode .... Elizabeth Burke
- Vital Signs (2010) TV episode .... Elizabeth Burke
- Bad Judgment (2010) TV episode .... Elizabeth Burke
- Hard Sell (2010) TV episode .... Elizabeth Burke
Cyborg Soldier (2008) (V) .... Lindsey Reardon
"What About Brian" .... Natasha Drew (5 episodes, 2007)
- What About Calling All Friends... (2007) TV episode .... Natasha
- What About Secret Lovers... (2007) TV episode .... Natasha Drew
- What About All That Glitters... (2007) TV episode .... Natasha
- What About Strange Bedfellows... (2007) TV episode .... Natasha
- What About Temptations... (2007) TV episode .... Natasha Drew
Pandemic (2007) (TV) .... Dr. Kayla Martin
Stroller Wars (2006) (TV) .... Lainey
"Good Morning, Miami" .... Victoria Hill (11 episodes, 2003-2004)
- Nightmare at 2000 Feet (2004) TV episode .... Victoria Hill
- Subterranean Workplace Blues (2004) TV episode .... Victoria Hill
- Victoria's Secret (2004) TV episode .... Victoria Hill
- Looking for Love in All the Wrong Cages (2003) TV episode ....
- Her Place or Mine? (2003) TV episode .... Victoria Hill
"Fastlane" .... Wilhelmina 'Billie' Chambers (22 episodes,
- Iced (2003) TV episode .... Wilhelmina 'Billie' Chambers
- Dosed (2003) TV episode .... Wilhelmina 'Billie' Chambers
- Asslane (2003) TV episode .... Wilhelmina 'Billie' Chambers
- Overkill (2003) TV episode .... Wilhelmina 'Billie' Chambers
- Monster (2003) TV episode .... Wilhelmina 'Billie' Chambers
Hollywood Ending (2002) .... Sharon Bates
"Just Shoot Me!" .... Amy Watson (3 episodes, 2001)
- The Impossible Dream (2001) TV episode .... Amy Watson
- Finch Chasing Amy (2001) TV episode .... Amy Watson
- Maya Judging Amy (2001) TV episode .... Amy Watson
A Christmas Adventure from a Book Called Wisely's Tales (2001) (V)
(voice) (as Tiffani Amber Thiessen) .... Vixen
Everything But the Girl (2001) (TV) .... Denise
"Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place" .... Marti (8 episodes, 2000)
... aka Two Guys and a Girl (USA: fourth season title) (USA: third
- A Germ Runs Through It (2000) TV episode .... Marti
- 15 Minutes of Shame (2000) TV episode .... Marti
- The Bear (2000) TV episode .... Marti
- El Matrimonio Loco (2000) TV episode .... Marti
- The Undercard (2000) TV episode .... Marti
Shriek If You Know What I Did Last Friday the Thirteenth (2000) (V)
(as Tiffani-Amber Thiessen) .... Hagitha Utslay
The Ladies Man (2000) .... Honey DeLune
... aka The Ladies' Man (UK)
Ivansxtc (2000) .... Marie Stein
... aka Ivans xtc. (To Live and Die in Hollywood) (USA: complete
"Beverly Hills, 90210" .... Valerie Malone (136 episodes, 1994-2000)
... aka Class of Beverly Hills (USA: teaser title)
- Ode to Joy (2000) TV episode (as Tiffani Theissen) .... Valerie
- You Say GoodBye, I Say Hello (1998) TV episode (as Tiffani-Amber
Thiessen) .... Valerie Malone
- Confession (1998) TV episode (as Tiffani-Amber Thiessen) ....
- Brandon Leaves (1998) TV episode (as Tiffani-Amber Thiessen) ....
- Don't Ask, Don't Tell (1998) TV episode (as Tiffani-Amber
Thiessen) .... Valerie Malone
Love Stinks (1999) (as Tiffani-Amber Thiessen) .... Rebecca Melini
From Dusk Till Dawn 2: Texas Blood Money (1999) (V) (as
Tiffani-Amber Thiessen) .... Pam
"NewsRadio" .... Foxy Jackson (1 episode, 1999)
... aka The Station
- Assistant (1999) TV episode (as Tiffani-Amber Thiessen) .... Foxy
Speedway Junky (1999) (as Tiffani-Amber Thiessen) .... Wilma Price
"Cupid" .... Stephanie MacGregor (1 episode, 1999)
- The Children's Hour (1999) TV episode (as Tiffani-Amber Thiessen)
.... Stephanie MacGregor
Buried Secrets (1996) (TV) (as Tiffani-Amber Thiessen) ....
Sweet Dreams (1996) (TV) (as Tiffani-Amber Thiessen) .... Alison
She Fought Alone (1995) (TV) (as Tiffani-Amber Thiessen) ....
... aka Scared by Love
The Stranger Beside Me (1995) (TV) (as Tiffani-Amber Thiessen) ....
Saved by the Bell: Wedding in Las Vegas (1994) (TV) (as
Tiffani-Amber Thiessen) .... Kelly Kapowski
"Burke's Law" .... Andrea Pierce (1 episode, 1994)
- Who Killed Romeo? (1994) TV episode (as Tiffani-Amber Thiessen)
.... Andrea Pierce
"Saved by the Bell: The College Years" .... Kelly Kapowski (18
- Marry Me (1994) TV episode (as Tiffani-Amber Thiessen) .... Kelly
- Wedding Plans (1994) TV episode (as Tiffani-Amber Thiessen) ....
- Love and Death (1994) TV episode (as Tiffani-Amber Thiessen) ....
- Bedside Manner (1994) TV episode (as Tiffani-Amber Thiessen) ....
- The Rave (1994) TV episode (as Tiffani-Amber Thiessen) .... Kelly
Son in Law (1993) (as Tiffani-Amber Thiessen) .... Tracy
"Saved by the Bell" .... Kelly Kapowski (74 episodes, 1989-1993)
- Graduation (1993) TV episode (as Tiffani-Amber Thiessen) ....
- The Time Capsule (1992) TV episode (as Tiffani-Amber Thiessen)
.... Kelly Kapowski
- Slater's Friend (1992) TV episode (as Tiffani-Amber Thiessen) ....
- Screech's Birthday (1992) TV episode (as Tiffani-Amber Thiessen)
.... Kelly Kapowski
- Snow White and the Seven Dorks (1992) TV episode (as Tiffani-Amber
Thiessen) .... Kelly Kapowski
A Killer Among Friends (1992) (TV) (as Tiffani-Amber Thiessen) ....
... aka Friends to the End (USA: alternative title)
"The Powers That Be" .... Barbara (1 episode, 1992)
- The Intern (1992) TV episode (as Tiffani-Amber Thiessen) ....
Saved by the Bell: Hawaiian Style (1992) (TV) (as Tiffani-Amber
Thiessen) .... Kelly Kapowski
"Blossom" .... Ricki (1 episode, 1992)
- Driver's Education (1992) TV episode (as Tiffani-Amber Thiessen)
"Step by Step" .... Tina Gordon (1 episode, 1992)
- Daddy's Girl (1992) TV episode (as Tiffani-Amber Thiessen) ....
"Valerie" .... Brooke (2 episodes, 1990)
... aka The Hogan Family (USA: new title)
... aka Valerie's Family (USA: new title)
- California Dreamin': Part 2 (1990) TV episode (as Tiffani-Amber
Thiessen) .... Brooke
- California Dreamin': Part 1 (1990) TV episode (as Tiffani-Amber
Thiessen) .... Brooke
"Married with Children" .... Heather McCoy (1 episode, 1990)
... aka Married... with Children (USA: promotional title)
- What Goes Around Came Around (1990) TV episode (as Tiffani-Amber
Thiessen) .... Heather McCoy
"Charles in Charge" .... Jennifer (1 episode, 1990)
- There's a Girl in My Ficus (1990) TV episode (as Tiffani-Amber
Thiessen) .... Jennifer
"Live-In" (1 episode, 1989)
- Mommy and Me and Au Pair Make Three (1989) TV episode (as Tiffani
Tiffany Amber Thiessen - Related Links
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