April 9th 2012

No matter how hard she tries, Shannen Doherty will never escape her popular onscreen persona Brenda Walsh from the hit series “Beverly Hills 90210.” After Doherty left the show she went on to star in “Charmed,” “North Shore” and “Scare Tactics.” Today the actress is taking a cue from former TV BFF’s Tori Spelling and Jennie Garth and jumping on the reality train in her own program, “Shannen Says,” which debuts on WE tv April 10. An edited version of our phone interview with her follows

More: Why go the reality route with your new show Shannen Says that premieres on WE tv April 10?

Shannen Doherty: You are asking me this as I am driving to a meeting and thinking, “What the hell did I do?” You make a decision and think you made the right decision at the time. It was definitely something I was curious about. Following the success of my book, Badass: A Hard-Earned Guide to Living Life with Style and (the Right) Attitude, I had all of these people giving me a positive response by saying I finally opened myself up to them a little bit and they felt like they had somebody they could relate to. That was the beginning of the decision to do it. The final decision was when Kurt and I decided to get married. We wanted to make a show that was honest, authentic and real.

More: Seems easy.

SD: There was trepidation while we were doing it. But then we forgot we were doing it and just basically lived our lives for seven weeks. Now that it is getting ready to air, I am absolutely petrified.

More: Why?

SD: This is not what I do. I am an actor and I would hate for anyone to forget that is what I do. Acting is what I am passionate about, because it’s all about inhabiting someone’s skin and bringing that person to life. This is a totally different genre. Kurt and I didn’t look at other shows and say, “We need to rev things up.” If anything, we wanted to stay true to ourselves. Anytime you are that honest about who you are, putting yourself out there can be frightening.

More: Are you hoping that by showcasing your vulnerable side the public will forget the bad girl who once made headlines?

SD: I think my bad girl image was in my twenties. Since then I have worked really hard on myself. I am not that person anymore and I don’t think anyone assumes I am—eventually a 20-year-old does grow up. I didn’t go into this hoping to change people's perception of me. The only thing I care about is being incredibly honest. That is a quality I really embrace.

More: What will people think once they watch this program?

SD: People are going to walk away saying, “She is exactly what I thought she was. She is overbearing, she is snappy, her relationship with her mother is so incredibly special, she is so loyal to her childhood friends.” Different people will walk away with different ideas of me.

More: On Shannen Says you get candid by documenting the final weeks before your wedding and the extreme amount of tension between you and your husband-to-be Kurt Iswarienko.

SD: I put it out there because so many women go through this and think all of the drama is just in their relationship. I was pretty sure I was going to be stressed out, as most women tend to get, so I was like, Let’s document this so people can relate to it. That part of the show is saying we are all in the same boat. I do, however, look back at some of these moments and say, Wow, I didn’t handle that very well.

More: Did you have an “I’m not going to make it down the aisle” moment?

SD: (laughs) I don’t know if the feeling was that strong. I didn’t question if I was going to make it down the aisle. Actually, wait a minute, that is not true. Kurt booked two jobs in a row. One in Madrid and one in Prague, like, three weeks before the wedding. I panicked and began thinking he was running away from this and he didn’t want to invest time in our wedding. I got incredibly insecure. It was in that moment I thought, I don’t know if this is going to work and if there is going to be a wedding. I was not looking to fail at this a third time. I was looking at this to be for the rest of my life.

ore: You just touched upon being married twice before. Is the third time the charm, and if so, what mistakes do you know to avoid?

SD: The first thing I learned was to know the person before you marry them. That really helps. Kurt and I were together for three years before we got married. I know this man inside and out. I know his morals. We both have a strong value system, including strong family values. As for my past fiancés, I didn’t know them. In fact, I was getting to know them after we got married. With Kurt, I like him as a human being. We are 100 percent connected, have trust in each other, and I have a completely different love for him. That is the base for a good marriage.

More: Oh—

SD: I know. I am not usually very girly that way, but I am with Kurt. I settle into that role nicely and I am happy with it. Kurt loves the good, the bad and the ugly when it comes to me. He loves my strong business sense, how brutally honest I am, and my faults.

More: How did you get him to agree to put your relationship on national TV?

SD: (laughs) That was interesting. We originally came up with the idea together. I did not come up with the idea on my own. We were actually in Mexico and it came up after one too many margaritas. Later, as the idea took on steam, he started contemplating what his role would be and what this would do for his career. We made the focus us and our relationship.

More: You talk about your strong relationship with your mom. Yet you also had an incredibly strong bond with of your dad, John Thomas Doherty, who passed away back in 2010.

SD: You are going to make me cry. I lost my other best friend, my mentor, my rock and my everything. I think I am doing OK. It is so incredibly hard, and it is a life-changing experience. My dad’s passing really rocked my world and tore it apart. There is not a second of the day that I don’t think about him, miss him or wish that I could trade my life for his. There is nothing I wouldn’t do to have my dad back with me. It sucks and I am still heartbroken by it. I will be heartbroken for the rest of my life. Kurt and I want to have children, and I cry when I think of how my dad will never be able to hold my children or put his arms around them.

More: I am sorry.

SD: You feel like you lost a part of you. There is a part of my heart that is permanently missing.

More: Has his passing brought you and your mom closer together?

SD: I have the same relationship with my mom that I had with my dad. But did it bring us closer? Yes. It changed our dynamic, because you have to lean on each other to get you through every single day. Some days she is the strong one and picks me up and the other days I am the strong one picking her up. I couldn’t have gotten through it without her or Kurt. He really stepped up to the plate when my dad passed away. Not only was he there for me but he was really there for my mom. Those moments really cemented their relationship.

More: You mentioned children. I want to see you pregnant!

SD: That is what everyone is saying to me right now. Everyone is like, Get pregnant, get pregnant. We definitely want children, whether that happens naturally or by adoption. As for doing the work to prepare for that moment, I am making a conscious effort to put on weight because I got too skinny to get pregnant. I am making an effort to get myself in the right physical condition so I can have a kid. But Kurt and I are also newlyweds and love spending time with each other so much. We want to enjoy this time before we bring a child into it.

More: You are such a girl!

SD: (laughs) I know I don’t want to share him quite yet! We love traveling. We went to Argentina for my birthday, Mexico and South Africa for the honeymoon and Barcelona after that. I just think there is so much we want to do together first. However, I do realize my age and know I have to get a move on.

More: Your former co-stars Jennie Garth and Tori Spelling have reality shows too. Might there be a little friendly competition for ratings?

SD: I don’t see why there is any reason to feel competitive. I watched Tori and Dean’s show and I love it. I can’t wait to watch Jennie’s show. I have a lot of respect for Jennie and developed a new relationship with her when we did the new 90210 together. I can’t wait to see her relationship with her kids and how she is dealing with everything. I think there is room for all of us. Women need to support women.

More: What are the benefits of being in your forties?

SD: I think, wisdom. The idea that you become wiser is so true. You can really reflect on your life, see a snafu and say, “I know I will never make the same mistake again.” You become more settled and finally know who you are.