Tiffani-Amber Thiessen (born January 23, 1974) is an American actress. She is known for starring as Kelly Kapowski on NBC's Saved by the Bell (1989–93) and as Valerie Malone on Fox's Beverly Hills, 90210 (1994–98), two TV series that met with great success. Thiessen has also starred in other TV series such as Fox's Fastlane (2002–03), ABC's What About Brian (2007) and USA Network's White Collar (2009–14), as well as in a number of TV movies, and she has also appeared in several films like Son in Law (1993), Shriek If You Know What I Did Last Friday the Thirteenth (2000), Hollywood Ending (2002) and Cyborg Soldier (2008).
Thiessen was born in Long Beach, California, the daughter of Robyn (née Ernest), a homemaker, and Frank Thiessen, a park designer and landscape architect. She has credited her brother, Todd, as one of her most important sources of inspiration, and her mother and grandmother as role models. Her mother has Greek, Turkish and Welsh heritage. 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.
Thiessen participated in beauty pageants during her childhood and was crowned Miss Junior America in 1987. The following year, she graced the cover of Teen magazine, having won the magazine's "Great Model Search". In 1989, she was named Cover Girl magazine's "Model of the Year", and landed her first role of Kelly Kapowski on NBC's television sitcom Saved by the Bell, starring until its end in 1993. The success of the show gave her career a boost and Thiessen received Young Artist Award nominations for Outstanding Young Ensemble Cast in 1990 and Best Young Actress in an Off-Primetime Series in 1992 and 1993. Simultaneously, Thiessen guest starred on series such as Married... with Children, Charles in Charge and Step by Step. In 1992, she starred in her first television movies Saved by the Bell: Hawaiian Style and A Killer Among Friends, making her film debut in Son in Law in 1993. She then continued with starring in spin-off Saved by the Bell: The College Years in its single season (1993–94) and in television movie Saved by the Bell: Wedding in Las Vegas (1994), which marked the end of the original Saved by the Bell series.
In 1994, after her tenure on Saved by the Bell had ended, Thiessen landed the role of Valerie Malone in Fox's Aaron Spelling-produced hit teen-drama Beverly Hills, 90210, to fill the void after Shannen Doherty's departure. She was the first actress to join directly the main cast of the show and portrayed Valerie until 1998, when she left in the early episodes of the ninth season of the show. While starring in 90210, Thiessen began to take on continuous dramatic leading roles in television films: The Stranger Beside Me and She Fought Alone in 1995, Sweet Dreams and Buried Secrets in 1996. After her departure from the show, she appeared in a number of films, including Speedway Junky (1999), From Dusk Till Dawn 2: Texas Blood Money (1999), Love Stinks (1999) and The Ladies Man (2000); she also guest-starred on NewsRadio (1999), Two Guys and a Girl (2000), Just Shoot Me! (2001) and Good Morning, Miami (2003–04). In 2000, she was featured in the music video for "You're a God" by Vertical Horizon, portraying a beauty pageant contestant, in her first music video appearance. That year she also dropped her middle name which she had been including professionally for many years and is now credited as simply Tiffani Thiessen. Thiessen was Spelling's first choice to replace Doherty in the popular series Charmed in 2001, but she refused his offer because she was hoping the NBC pilot for Everything But the Girl would be picked up. The role eventually went to Rose McGowan.
Meanwhile, Thiessen starred in direct-to-video parody film Shriek If You Know What I Did Last Friday the Thirteenth (2000) and in television movie Everything But the Girl (2001), before appearing in the Woody Allen-directed film Hollywood Ending (2002) and starring in action drama series Fastlane (2002–03) as Wilhelmina 'Billie' Chambers, for which she received a Teen Choice Award nomination for Choice TV Actress in Drama/Action Adventure. In 2003, she launched her production company Tit 4 Tat Productions, producing and directing the short film Just Pray in 2005, which earned distinctions at several film festivals. Later on, she starred in television movies Stroller Wars (2006) and Pandemic (2007), she joined the cast of ABC's drama What About Brian (2007) for its last five episodes and starred in the science fiction film Cyborg Soldier (2008). In 2008, she made her second music video appearance, this time for Ben Lee's "American Television". Thiessen appeared with her husband Brady Smith on the September 6, 2009 episode of season four of the reality show HGTV Design Star. Interior designer Lonni Paul, one of the final three contestants of the season, was given the task of redesigning Thiessen's guest bedroom with an eco-friendly theme; Thiessen and Paul now have a nursery furniture line called PetitNest. From 2009 through 2014 Thiessen appeared in the USA Network crime series White Collar as Elizabeth Burke.
On February 4, 2015, Thiessen reunited with Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Elizabeth Berkley, Dennis Haskins and Mario Lopez on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon where they appeared in a Saved by the Bell sketch with Fallon.
Also in 2015, Thiessen started hosting her own show on Cooking Channel called "Dinner at Tiffani's".
In early 1992, Thiessen started dating Brian Austin Green, introduced by mutual friend David Faustino; they moved in together in July 1994, but they broke up the next year. In 1999, she went through a difficult period in her personal life, when David Strickland, also an actor, whom she had begun dating, committed suicide. From 2001 to the spring of 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, and they have two children: daughter Harper (born 2010) and son Holt (born 2015).
Thiessen served as maid of honor at 90210 co-star and best friend Jennie Garth's wedding to actor Peter Facinelli, with whom she co-starred on Fastlane. Garth and Thiessen's friendship has since come to an end. Her friendship with fellow 90210 star Tori Spelling also broke up, after Spelling's split from her first husband.
In 2013, she participated in the One Bag party for April for Earth Month, in which the Glad company promoted "clean, green living".
Thiessen was a teen idol during the 1990s, starting from her role as cheerleader Kelly Kapowski on Saved by the Bell and then playing bad girl Valerie Malone on Beverly Hills, 90210. In a much-discussed moment, Justin Bieber appeared wearing a T-shirt with a photo of Thiessen in her Saved by the Bell days at the 2011 MuchMusic Video Awards, admitting his admiration for her. Chris Paul also revealed publicly that he was a fan of Thiessen back then, when she sent him an autographed photograph of her Saved by the Bell-era for his 29th birthday in 2014.
I am thought to be exiled gentry, a vagabond, a scandalous rogue, a troubadour, armchair tactician, amateur grifter, self taught mechanic, would be author, adventurer, rogue scholar, traveler of strange lands, and an all round near do well.