New Job

Published July 26 2004 in the 'Hollywood Reporter' / Author: Chris Gardner

New job: Someone else who's turning the page on a new chapter is Tiffani Thiessen. The actress, who is probably still best known for her "Beverly Hills, 90210" days, is purring that ZIP code far behind her and moving to a new area of the business, directing. Thiessen recently wrapped production on her debut, a short film titled "Just Pray." She recruited Janel Moloney, Constance Zimmer and Brady Smith for the coming-of-age story about a young boy in the South dealing with everything from weight issues to an ill mother. "It's a very sweet, simple story," Thiessen explains by phone while attempting to swat away mosquitos in Texas on a road-trip vacation complete with an RV. "(It is) something that has been very close to my heart for a long time." And close to her company.

Robert Dean Johnson, her producing partner in their Tit for Tat shingle, penned the screenplay and helped persuade Thiessen to take up the lens and get it off the ground. "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." She located a company called Omaha Pictures and found her way past all the naysayers along the way. "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." And Thiessen, who is also developing a slate of TV projects in addition to features, is ready for Round 2. "I've got the bug now, so I'm ready for the next project."