Monday, July 18, 2011

Inspirational Women in the Entertainment Industry: Tiffani Thiessen...

For so many talents who start out as child stars, the transition into more adult roles is a tumultuous one at best, if it even ever comes. But Tiffani Thiessen, who held not one but two iconic television roles when she was still just a teenager, seems to have gone from the somewhat stereotypical characters of youth to respectable and well-rounded women that may live on the small screen but could really fit in anywhere relatively seamlessly.

“I have to say, luckily, I’ve been able to keep doing this as a living…so I feel very blessed and very fortunate to be able to say that. I haven’t always made the best choices-- sometimes they were great, and sometimes they were not so great-- but that’s kind of how careers go, and life in general,” Thiessen, who believes that both good and bad things “shape who you are in life…and give you better perspective, probably as an actor and as a person” told Made Possible by Pop Culture.

"When I was doing this thirty years ago, it is very, very different. I look at these kids nowadays that are on the Disney Channel and all that, and it’s similar to what it was like for me, but at the same time it’s very, very different. It’s so much more intense than it was. The magazines that used to bother Mark-Paul [Gosselaar] and I when we were on Saved by the Bell, I don’t even know if they’re around anymore, but now these kids are getting followed by massive magazines and paparazzi and stuff.

Getting her start as a model when she was still elementary school aged, Thiessen certainly proved she was practicing what she preached, even at such an early age. Her first, and arguably
most, mainstream success came from playing the sweet and innocent girl-next-door and half of everyone child of the nineties’ favorite supercouple, Kelly Kapowski on Saved by the Bell, but when that role and show came to an end, she opted to go in a completely opposite direction, lest she get pigeonholed. Tapping into a more cunning and conniving side on Beverly Hills, 90210 opened her up to a new audience but also showed her old one-- and herself-- a fuller range for what she could really do.

“Being an actor is being an artist, and being an artist, you want to be creative all of the time, but sometimes being on one show for a long time, it can get kind of stale,” Thiessen admitted. “Definitely different roles helps that; going and doing a play in your off time, going and doing other things or movies or guest stars to kind of switch it up definitely, definitely helps. It keeps your craft kind of sharpened, like a knife. It just keeps all of your tools working.”

To this day, the current
White Collar leading lady is still eager to audition for new roles when she feels like they would be a good fit, but she is also proactive enough to know that with the way the business is changing, sometimes the best thing to do is create the opportunities for one’s self.

“There was this time when I was just so tired of the scripts bring sent to me to play, like, this bimbo, hot chick, you know, or whatever-- just those kind of roles that I was just so tired of reading,” Thiessen recalled. “So my best friend at the time said ‘So, why don’t you create something on your own.’ And I said, ‘You know what; you’re right’!”

That conversation led to Thiessen directing her very first short film (2005's
Just Pray), a project she took to film festivals and had such a great experience with, she sees as yet another opportunity of which she hopes to take advantage again. After all, she considers the key to longevity as an actor-- or in this industry in general-- to be versatility.

“People have a five second memory of the things that you’ve done. They’ll read your resume, but they really don’t care. It’s about what you can do now—what you can bring to the table now,” Thiessen pointed out.

What Thiessen can most certainly bring to the table now, aside from her obvious talent, is a unique wisdom cultivated from her strong familial support system from her earliest days in the industry. Learning was always her number one priority, whether she was studying school subjects in books or observing the world around her while she traveled. It was what enabled her to take time off when she was in her twenties to ensure this was what she really loves to do (it is), and it is what enables her now to focus on striking a balance between being a working actor and a working mother. It is also what keeps her mind open for the future:

"You can only do so much with the opportunities that are given to you, so you have to take the opportunity and do as much as you can with it.”

Wise words to live by, no matter what
you want to do in life.

1 comment:

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