Kansas City Star

1999

After a four-year stint as the resident bad girl on "Beverly Hills 90210" and a slew of earnest made-for-TV movies, Tiffani-Amber Thiessen, 25, has two guest-star spots in comedy roles and a sitcom of her own in the early stages of development — so early that, alas, she can't tell us what it's about, who she'll play.

She can tell us, however, that the Untitled Thiessen Sitcom is scheduled to debut in the fall and that she can't wait. "I've been doing one-hour drama for a long time... I've really been craving something funny." Thiessen guest-starred on the last episode of "Cupid," the night before Valentine's Day, and she recently was on "NewsRadio" as an assistant whose brief tenure turns the men of the station into hormonal frappes. Her name? Foxy.

"It was so much fun — 'NewsRadio' has a great cast, and they came up with a great script," she said.

The "NewsRadio" part basically calls for Thiessen to lounge on different desks in an extremely tight sweater, exchanging meaningful glances and charged banter with the various men of the station. After playing Valerie Malone, the man-thieving, emotionally unstable temptress of "90210," it's stuff Thiessen can do with her eyes closed.

Thiessen grew up on television. First there was "Saved by the Bell," in which Thiessen played popular girl Kelly Kapowski, and its spinoffs. She went to "90210" after Shannen Doherty left. With Valerie having shuffled off to Buffalo, Thiessen has been carefully cultivating a life after the series. There was a string of women-in-peril flicks, and now she's doing small indie films like "Speedway Junkie." She says her character is a "white trash girl." "It's fun to be different and creative, to explore your character and be somewhat artsy in a sense," she said. "It's not like in a big studio film, where it's all about the explosions, not the acting."

And, like many Hollywood actresses, Thiessen's had to become a dedicated foot soldier in the body wars. Thiessen's curves make her a standout among her peers. "You know what I look like, and I'm completely different than Calista Flockhart," says the size 6 or 8 Thiessen. "Coming from an overweight family, I have to deal with my weight issue every single day. I take the precautions. I go to the gym and I eat right. Even so, I've had people, especially people who watch '90210' say, 'Oh my ... she needs to lose weight, she's completely fat.' Thiessen says she's "not like a skinny girl. I know that's the way my body is, and I have to accept it." During her "Saved by the Bell" years, when producers would tell her to lose weight, she would — "and it's funny, because I was really skinny then." Now she's older, wiser and more willing to tell them no. "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!