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Tiffani Thiessen

Tiffani Thiessen (born Tiffani Amber Thiessen January 23, 1974) is an American actress. She played Kelly Kapowski on Saved by the Bell and Valerie Malone on Beverly Hills, 90210. She also starred in Fastlane as Wilhelmina 'Billie' Chambers. From 2009 to 2014, Thiessen played the role of Elizabeth Burke in the USA Network series White Collar.

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Early life

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. 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.

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Career

After a childhood of beauty pageants, Thiessen was crowned Miss Junior America in 1987, and the following year, she won Teen magazine's "Great Model Search", gracing the cover. In 1989, she was named Cover Girl magazine's "Model of the Year", and landed her first role of Kelly Kapowski on 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 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 on 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 popular series Charmed in 2001, but she refused his offer.

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 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. Since 2009, Thiessen stars in the USA Network crime series White Collar as Elizabeth Burke.

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Personal life

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 in the fall of 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 gave birth to their daughter, Harper Renn Smith, on June 15, 2010. On January 15, 2015, Thiessen's rep confirmed their second child was on the way.

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 Glad promoted "clean, green living".

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