InStyle Interview

In Style, Nov 1998 p261(1)

Most nighttime soap addicts know Tiffani-Amber Thiessen as Valerie Malone, the vulnerable, love-to-hate-her vulture of Beverly Hills, 90210. Before that, Thiessen, 24, gained attention as Kelly, the saccharine girl next door on NBC's Saturday-morning teen comedy Saved by the Bell. One thing is for sure: The girl's got range. Now, TV's voluptuous chameleon is set to break out big after leaving that most famous of small-screen zip codes: She'll appear in both Texas Blood Money, the Quentin Tarantino-produced prequel to From Dusk Till Dawn, and Speedway Junkie, a Gus Van Sant production. Offscreen, Thiessen, a native of Long Beach, California, is happy to be both naughty and nice, a young woman with three tattoos who calls people "sweetie" and laughs at herself with ease. And if she goes on to be a first-run movie queen, it's fair to say she'll be a wickedly good one.

So, tell us the history of those tattoos.

I have three of them: a daisy on my back, an angel on my ankle, and a little green heart on my stomach. The daisy was the first one I got, with my very best school buddy, when I was 16. Then my little guardian angel. The heart was for an ex-boyfriend, but we won't talk about that. I'd never get a boyfriend's name, not in a million years.

When your mother first saw your tattoos, what was her reaction?

My mom was totally fine with it. I started in this business so early. I had boyfriends early. It was no big deal. You grow up onscreen.

Is there a look from your past you wish you'd skipped?

Reruns of Saved by the Bell can be pretty scary! But you know—it was the time.

Did you ever get the bad teenage perm?

Oh, you know it! I did, absolutely. When I first started going to Dusty [Simington], my hairdresser, 13 years ago [at Hampton Salon in Newport Beach, California], I had permed bleached-blond hair that hung down to my waist, and the biggest bangs you've ever seen. And the roots were rather long. It was pretty tacky.

Name some of your style icons growing up.

I loved Brooke Shields—at the time, she had those really big eyebrows, and big eyebrows were so in. I had them for a while, but I think I got rid of them faster than she did. In Blue Lagoon, I thought, She's hot—and she's got a tan!

Are you a sun worshiper?

Actually, I do go in the sun. My whole family does. I come from Long Beach, where every summer I'd watch my brothers surf. I was constantly out in the sun when I was a kid. I do try to protect my face now as much as possible, but I'm not shy about the sun. I love sitting by the pool once in a while. I have olive skin and I don't burn easily.

How do you come by your complexion?

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; Greek, Turkish and Welsh on the other. My mom is very olive-skinned; I get my blue eyes from my dad.

Do you subject yourself to facials?

I try to have one every two to four weeks. I go to Vera's Retreat, which is on Beverly Glen Boulevard, just south of Mulholland Drive.

Is your bathroom crowded with skin-care products?

I use some of Vera's own products—her avocado soap I use to take off my makeup, and her Aloe Vera Freshener toner. When my skin needs some-thing stronger, I'll use Kiehl's Blue Astringent. The only moisturizer I use on my face is Neutrogena.

What's in your makeup bag?

I like very neutral makeup colors--browns and grays: MAC Butterscotch and Bark eye shadows, their Dusty Rose powder blush and C3 concealer. A Trish McEvoy palette and brushes. Lots of lip liners—Chanel Nude, Benefit's Love Bite, MAC Nutmeg and Trish McEvoy no. 2—and Stila Peach Shine and Melon Shine lip glosses. I also use Trish McEvoy mascara and Stila Liquid Makeup.

Do you have a signature scent?

I wear pure perfume oil I get at Fred Segal called Child. I haven't seen it anyplace else. You get this tiny bottle for, like, $90, but it lasts forever because it's oil-based and you don't need to wear much. I've worn it for a year, and I still get compliments all the time.

And as for working out?

I'm addicted to it—six days a week. It's something I've learned, ever since I turned 18, that I will have to do for the rest of my life. I definitely have to watch what I eat, and exercising is a must. I just started kickboxing, and I absolutely love it. Especially for a woman, it's such a great release of frustration when you're hitting somebody, or hitting a bag, and to see the progress you make with your kicks. And I weight train, usually four to five times a week. I have a gym at my house, but it's just so boring. It's much better when you're with other people, so most of the time I work out with a trainer at Billy Blanks' gym.

How about diet?

Because I work out really hard, I take a lot of supplements, which help speed up my metabolism. But I'm not strict in the sense of my diet. Of course, I don't eat fast food. I try to eat a high-protein, low-fat, low-carb diet.

Any trends you really hate?

I stay away from high-waisted pants. They'll probably come back, but I can't do it. I'm not 5-foot-10 and 100 pounds, so I don't fit into everything. Trying on pants is an ordeal, so when I do find the right ones, I buy millions of them. I hated it when dark nail polish was in. And I don't like short hair on me. I'd love to be able to cut my hair off like Gwyneth [Paltrow], but I can't. I'd look like a dork.

Describe your weekend wear.

Pretty casual. I wear a lot of sweats, shorts, T-shirts and khakis, and I put my hair in a ponytail.

Who are some of your favorite designers?

I love Gucci, Dolce & Gabbana and Katayone Adeli.

Is shopping a passion for you?

I like shopping and I love clothes. I'm a typical girl in that sense. I was just in Mo-naco, and it has amazing shopping. I went a little crazy—it's such a lavish town. Everyone drives Porsches and Lamborghinis and Mercedes, and the gambling is very old-school, everyone dressed up with a martini in their hand. You feel like you're in a James Bond movie. It was such a fantasy place. I thought, OK, I'll retire here, either that or get married and live here. Marry some prince and be a housewife? I wouldn't mind!

"My mother is visiting. The other day she put mayonnaise in her hair as conditioner. I hugged her and said, 'What is that?' Now it's all in my pool, of course!"