Thiessen was born in Long Beach, California. Her father, Frank, is a park designer of German descent; her mother, Robyn, is a homemaker of Greek, Turkish and Welsh descent. She told InStyle magazine: "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 and Welsh on the other. My mom is very olive-skinned; I get my blue eyes from my dad." She credits her brother, Todd, as one of her most important sources of inspiration, and her mother and grandmother as role models. Her uncle, Roger Ernest, attended college with Steven Spielberg and co-wrote one of his student films called Slipstream. He also appeared in Close Encounters of the Third Kind and The Sugarland Express, playing a police officer in both films. Ernest was the first person to suggest that Thiessen enter show business.
Template:Expand After a childhood of beauty pageants, Thiessen was crowned Miss Junior America in 1987 and won Teen magazine's "Great Model Search" in 1988, gracing the cover of that issue. A year later, her first big break in show business was her role on the television program Saved by the Bell, which was publicized and given a great deal of fanfare by the same magazine. She portrayed Kelly Kapowski, a role she continued playing in the short-lived Saved by the Bell: The College Years. Thiessen began to appear in guest roles on several television film, including Hawaiian Style, A Killer Among Friends, Son in Law, and Wedding in Las Vegas.
In 1994, Thiessen was cast in Beverly Hills, 90210 playing Valerie Malone. This was very different from her previous roles, playing a naive, and a fun young woman but also a trouble maker at times. She played the role of Valerie Malone for four and a half years (seasons 5-8 and seven episodes in the 9th season).
Thiessen later guest-starred in the sitcom Two Guys and a Girl and starred in the short-lived action show Fastlane, as well as guest-starring on Just Shoot Me! playing Amy Watson. Her transition to film has not gone well so far, as most of her movies have been critically panned. In 2002, she appeared in the film Hollywood Ending, directed by Woody Allen.
In 2005, Thiessen directed a 21-minute film called Just Pray. It placed at several film festivals and was the first major effort from her new production company, Tit 4 Tat Productions.
She has had past relationships with co-stars Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Brian Austin Green, Mario Lopez and Jason Priestley. In March of 1999, Thiessen's then-boyfriend, actor David Strickland, committed suicide. From October 2001 to April 2003, she was engaged to actor Richard Ruccolo, whom she had met during the Two Guys and a Girl run. On July 9, 2005, she married actor Brady Smith in Montecito, California.
Thiessen is a part of the Make-a-Wish Foundation. In February 2006, she accepted an invitation to serve on the National Advisory Council for the organization.
|1989||Saved by the Bell||Kelly Kapowski||TV series (1989-1993)|
|1990||Married with Children||Heather McCoy||What Goes Around Came Around|
|1992||Saved by the Bell: Hawaiian Style||Kelly Kapowski||TV movie|
|A Killer Among Friends||Jenny Monroe||TV movie|
|1993||Son in Law||Tracy|
|1993||Saved by the Bell: The College Years||Kelly Kapowski||TV series (1993-1994)|
|1994||Saved by the Bell: Wedding in Las Vegas||Kelly Kapowski||TV movie|
|Beverly Hills, 90210||Valerie Malone||TV series (1994-1998)|
|1995||The Stranger Beside Me||Jennifer Gallagher||TV movie|
|She Fought Alone||Caitlin Rose||TV movie|
|1996||Sweet Dreams||Alison Sullivan||TV movie|
|Buried Secrets||Annalisse Vellum||TV movie (also co-producer)|
|1999||Speedway Junky||Wilma Price|
|From Dusk Till Dawn 2: Texas Blood Money||Pam|
|Love Stinks||Rebecca Melini/Juliette|
|2000||Ivans XTC||Marie Stein|
|The Ladies Man||Honey DeLune|
|Shriek If You Know What I Did Last Friday the Thirteenth||Hagitha Utslay|
|2001||Everything But the Girl||Denise||TV movie|
|A Christmas Adventure from a Book Called Wisely's Tales||Vixen (voice)|
|Just Shoot Me!||Amy Watson||3 episodes|
|2002||Hollywood Ending||Sharon Bates|
|2002||Fastlane||Wilhelmina 'Billie' Chambers||TV series (2002-2003)|
|2005||Just Pray||Short film (co-producer only)|
|2006||Stroller Wars||Lainey||TV series|
|2007||Pandemic||Kayla Martin||TV movie|
|What About Brian||Natasha Drew||TV series|
|2008||Cyborg Soldier||Lindsey Reardon|
- 2003 - Choice TV Actress: Drama, "Fastlane"
- 1989 - Outstanding Young Ensemble Cast, "Saved by the Bell"
- 1991 - Best Young Actress Starring in an Off-Prime Time or Cable Series, "Saved by the Bell"
- 1992 - Best Young Actress in an Off-Prime Time Series, "Saved by the Bell"
- Recorded a public service announcement for Deejay Ra's 'Hip-Hop Literacy' campaign
- She was featured in the following music videos:
- Official website
- tit 4 tat Productions - Thiessen's production company. Includes her profile.
- Biography at TV.com
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