Post-Gazette October 18th 2010

Aaron Spelling's hit television show "Beverly Hills, 90210" (1990-2000) was the vehicle that led to fame, fortune and notoriety for young actress Shannen Doherty. Decades later she has emerged a woman, wiser for wear. The 39-year-old has done some serious soul searching since her bad-girl days and reputation as being difficult. Prior to that she lived the unexamined life. She's discovered her father's chronic ill health had an unintentional, negative effect on her behavior. Next month her book, "Badass: A Hard-Earned Guide to Living Life with Style and (the Right) Attitude," will be available. With two failed marriages under her belt, she addresses many topics in the book, including the top five tips for breaking up as well as advice dealing with life's issues. She stars in Hallmark Channel's original movie "Growing the Big One" at 9 p.m. Saturday. She plays a woman who has to choose between a big career in the city or starry nights and romance in the country.

Are you more of a town or country girl?

[Laughing] You know, I'm a little bit of both. I think I prefer to live outside a major city, so when I want it, it's there. I definitely like a little bit more of a quiet life and a bit more room. My country life happens to be a beach as opposed to an open field. That to me is ideal. With that being said, I'm also the person who goes to New York at least once a month. I love New York. I always want to have somewhere else to be.

Has your career ever presented a choice between love or a big job opportunity?

Not really. I think what's important for girls and women who watch the movie is that they understand I don't think the character made her choice simply for a man. I don't think anybody should have to make that decision in life [between career and love]. There's a way to work around love and your career and have all of it. Everybody has to make sacrifices, but you certainly don't have to give up a career in order to have love. The closest I've ever come to having a sort of decision like that was when my dad was sick. Do I take a job or do I stay home? That was never even a decision for me. It was very clear. I would pass up a job in order to stay with my dad, who was in the hospital. I've never had to sacrifice a relationship for my career.

In your book, you talk about the need for soul searching and admitting your faults. How challenging was that?

For anybody, including myself, it's challenging. I think a good majority of us have a tendency to hide from our flaws. It is probably one of the best things we can do [face the flaws]. I definitely had to do that within myself. I had to say, "I know that I'm a good person, but I also know I've made far too many mistakes." I can't even chalk this up to youth any more [laughing]. It's become this sort of pathetic excuse. There were pivotal moments that made me face that that I talk about in the book. One of the most embarrassing, horrifying and humiliating experiences was the DUI. That's when I stopped and said, "This is enough." I had to go on my soul-searching journey and there had to be things put aside for that journey. Relationships got put aside. My career took a back seat.

You actually made it the No. 1 priority in your life.

I did because there was no way I was gonna be happy unless I did. There was no way I was ever going to be the person I was raised to be, embracing the morals and the values that my parents had instilled in me until I got back in touch with who I was and face down my own fears and insecurities and my own issues. It wasn't easy, and it wasn't a short period of time. You know, it took me awhile.

How did your notoriety affect your parents?

You would have to ask them because I hate speaking for anybody else but myself. Trying to give you somewhat of an answer without putting words in their mouths, I can say they offered me unconditional love and support, which doesn't mean they stood by and said "Oh you're fine, sweetie. You're great. We love you." It was, "You're messing up. This is not who you are. We love you, and because we love you, you need to figure this out." I felt that I could explore myself, and I could take time off and that I still had that love and support. It definitely helped me. This is really scary stuff. My fear of losing my father is so overwhelming and overpowering. It's really sort of controlled and dictated a lot of my actions in my life. I had to come to terms with that. Last Christmas my dad had another massive stroke. He's definitely not a well man, but I dealt with this stroke better than I ever have in the past. Because I feel like I'm 100 percent there for him. I'm making him proud. That helps you face everything else.

Do you think the bad behavior in the early years was a way of punishing yourself for the success and friends you didn't feel you deserved?

Oh, of course. When somebody is self-destructive it is always for a reason. You have to get to the bottom of it so you can leave the bad girl behind and embrace who you are as a woman.

You've turned around a lot of things in your life and some of the process involved forgiving others and forgiving yourself.

I think forgiving yourself is probably the hardest. At least for me it was. I have always been a person who can easily forgive others. I have a tendency to make excuses for people, so that I can forgive them, even when I shouldn't. You have to be honest with yourself when you're being too forgiving and when somebody is just a negative influence on your life, and you are scared of letting something go. I used to deal with it by being self-deprecating and making fun of myself and apologizing to everybody in the world about my mistakes. Now I sort of own my mistakes. It's ironic because my production company is called "No Apologies." For me it was about no more apologies for my actions because I am who I am. I have grown so much as a human being that when I make a mistake it's not going to be at everybody else's expense. I am going to deal with it and move on from it.

Plus there is value in everything you went through, good and bad.

A ton of value. I wouldn't be who I am today without those mistakes. Sure there are some I could definitely do without [laughing]. At this moment, I like who I am. It allowed me to sit down and write a book honestly that I think is funny and poignant and soulful and thoughtful and will hopefully help anybody else who is going through anything remotely similar to what I went through.

You wrote that the more courageous you become, the less you need to control people and situations.

I think I've always been a little bit of a controlling human being [laughing]. I like to make sure I can control my own destiny, and maybe that was part of the issue with my father because [his health] was so out of my control. I couldn't make him better. Because I had no control over that, I tried to control everything else even more. I am not 100 percent free of some of these things. I still have control issues. Now when I start to be too controlling, I sense it and I let it go.

Has the work you've done on yourself had any effect on your acting?

I've worked since I was 10 years old. It's a 29-year career, and to me, it has been incredibly successful career. To be successful for 29 years in one of the hardest businesses -- there is a huge accomplishment. I find that now it's not my priority. It doesn't mean that I don't love acting and directing. I do. It's just, I don't think it's the No. 1 thing for me anymore. Family is the No. 1 thing, and keeping myself healthy and sane is the No. 1 thing.