USA Today October 23rd 2010

Is Shannen Doherty a bad girl or a badass?

"A bad girl does things without much thought," Doherty says. "She can be malicious and stupid. She doesn't have a lot of integrity. That's the problem.

"A badass is not perfect. She's a flawed human being. But when she makes a mistake, she figures it out and doesn't make it again. She believes in karma, and she finally has her priorities straight."

Doherty considers herself a badass, and to prove it, she has written Badass: A Hard-Earned Guide to Living Life with Style and (the Right) Attitude, out Nov. 2 (Clarkson Potter, $25.99).

However, not everyone will agree with Doherty's self-assessment. After becoming famous as Brenda Walsh on Beverly Hills, 90210, Doherty seemed to thrive on questionable behavior, including an arrest for suspected drunk driving and a vandalism charge that that resulted in anger management counseling.

She has also had a colorful romantic life, including three engagements and two short-lived marriages to Ashley Hamilton in 1993 and Rick Salomon in 2002.

At 39, Doherty insists that she has reformed. "I learned a lot of lessons. I've gone through a few relationships —both business and personal — that taught me a lot about myself. I almost lost my parents. I definitely became a different person."

Doherty's transition from bad girl to badass is so complete that she is starring in Growing the Big One, a family movie about a pumpkin contest airing tonight on the Hallmark Channel (9 ET/PT).

She plays a Seattle radio talk show host who is forced to re-order her priorities when her grandfather dies and leaves her his farm. Doherty and G-ratings don't seem natural companions, but she has special reason for gravitating toward lighter fare.

"I like doing family movies for my goddaughter and for my brother's seven kids. I get joy out of their watching something my brother approves of. They can all sit around and talk about it and call me afterwards."

Doherty also connected with some of the issues the TV movie addresses.

"What I related to with this character is something that I've already been through," she says. "I had a career for so long that, at some point, I had to stop and make sure that my priorities were in order.

"For my character it's about honoring her grandfather and finding good friends, a sense of community and love. For me, my family always comes first. They come before career. They come before anything."

These days, Doherty is more selective when it comes to public appearances, insisting, "I prefer to be out of the spotlight. If I go to a red carpet event or to The Ivy (a popular Los Angeles restaurant), I know I'm asking for it. I'll go and support certain designers. The most I do is for Armani Exchange because everyone who works in the company is gracious and always nice to me."

But when she's off-duty, she wants to be left alone.

"Yesterday I went to the grocery store, and there was a guy with an iPhone," she complains. "When you're in your home surroundings, there has to be some sort of privacy."

Doherty is also more circumspect about her private life. Asked about boyfriends, she says, "I don't talk about that anymore. It's one of those boundaries I have in my life now."

Doherty began to re-evaluate her priorities just over a decade ago, around the time that she began her three-year stint as a witch on Charmed. "Twenty-seven was a big turning point for me. That's when I made some of my bigger mistakes.

"And what was so disappointing about it was that I thought that I was done making mistakes. So all of a sudden when you make a huge mistake, it's like being slammed up against a wall and knocked out. You wake up and you're like, 'What was that?' Then you hit 30, and you're like, 'I'm not a kid any more. I gotta grow up.'"

Luckily for Doherty, Hollywood forgives bad behavior. "A lot of people have gotten second and third chances. If you have talent, Hollywood embraces you whether you've made a mistake or not.There's more forgiveness than there's not," she says. "It's easy to find roles, but roles that I'll take — not so much. I've got to sit back and wait for that amazing script, although sometimes I'll take something for a family reason or because I have a bill to pay."

She has no plans to return to the CW's 90210 remake after coming back as Brenda for eight episodes in Season 1. "I definitely don't regret coming back because I got to work with Jenny (Garth) again, but no more."

Instead, she is concentrating on writing, directing and producing. "I have directed (three episodes of Charmed), and that's a huge passion," she says. "I'm developing projects with my company (No Apologies Productions). They're mostly for TV, some scripted, some reality. I'm also looking at web content."

To write Badass, Doherty spent a year working closely with her editor and another writer. "It's my voice, my words, my experiences. I talk about relationships, dinner parties and decorating. The only things I can give advice on are things I've been through.

"The book encourages women to embrace their inner badass. In my early-to-late 20s I could never have written this. Now I'm able to look at how I changed as a woman and the lessons I've learned."

The biggest lesson has come from simply getting older.

"With age comes wisdom," she says. "It's also an inner strength that has nothing to do with stamping your foot and drawing huge lines in the sand. It has more to do with knowing who you are and being comfortable with that person and loving that person. You need to make yourself and your needs and wants one of your priorities. It's not about giving up who you are for a man or for a job."

Doherty considers Angelina Jolie to be the epitome of a badass.

"When she was younger, you weren't really sure about her. She came into her own badass, if you will, and embraced who she was and became this incredibly well-rounded human being. She's got as many karma points as anybody can have with all that she's doing for our world. She seems content and happy, and she's a dynamic actress."

Doherty has also learned to steer her inner badass toward calmer endeavors.

"When I was younger, it was a sprint to have this career that I wanted. I was a workaholic. If I had a month off, I'd go crazy," she admits. "Now I've become much more relaxed and settled. I live by the beach and I surround myself with good friends. I love my dogs. I love my family. I love my house. I love my horses. Now I take my time, and I make better decisions."