Shannen's life changed at the age of eight when her friend asked her to watch an audition for a children's production of Snow White at the local church. She had never thought of acting before, but when she was invited to join in she did. She landed one of the leading parts and never looked back! Her performance attracted some local press and a newspaper suggested that she needed to find an acting agent to manage her.
It took Shannen two years to convince her parents to allow her to purse a career in acting. Her parents had heard all kinds of bad stories about child actors and didn't want that life for their only daughter. After showing so much determination, Shannen's mother finally agreed and took her to see some acting agents. She was quickly signed up and within a week she landed a job! It was the voice-over for the animated feature of 'The Secret of N.I.M.H'. She was later booked for some commercials.
At the age of nine, tragedy struck the Doherty household. Her mother was experiencing terrible headaches and was diagnosed with a brain aneurysm, therefore she was in the hospital a lot. Doctors said she'd be paralyzed. Then, aged ten her father had a stroke. She almost lost both of her parents. It was a very tough time for her. Despite this, Shannen stayed strong and carried this burden around with her unknown to her friends and teachers. This also meant that Shannen became the main source of money for the family from a very young age.
Shannen was a confident student, involving herself in school performances and trying hard at class work, making sure she always had exceptional grades. Despite her confidence, she kept herself to herself and preferred to be alone rather than be with large groups of people. "I had more fun playing by myself than with anybody else," she says. "I guess I was born that way. But at the same time, I was outgoing. I did all these plays, and when I was in Tennessee, I was active in the church. But I never really had sleepovers. I always wanted my time away from others."
Things moved quickly in her career, and she made her acting debut aged ten, with a role on the series 'Father Murphy'.
She later landed a major role aged at eleven years old, starring in 'Little House: A New Beginning' as Jenny Wilder. "I used to watch Little House on the Prairie. And I wanted to work with Michael Landon really desperately." This was the dream of many young girls, but Shannen had the incredible determination and good fortune to actually end up on Little House. It was Michael Landon who noticed her performance in an episode of Father Murphy, when he decided to cast her. She then went on to appear in the family drama, 'Our House' with Deidre Hall and Wilford Brimley, where she gained several Young Artist Award nominations. She also starred alongside Sarah Jessica Parker in 'Girls Just Want To Have Fun'.
In ninth grade, she attended a Baptist private school in Los Angeles. The school had a no-dancing policy, so she organized her own dance, off school property, and invited the entire student body. The following Monday, she found herself facing off with the principal. "I was like, really? You're getting me in trouble? I can pull out passages from the Bible where it says they danced and rejoiced. I mean, if Jesus did it, it can't really be that bad!" In the end, Shannen's parents took her side, pulling her out of school and enrolling her at the prestigious Lycée Français instead. “it was very much about academics and was strict. It was heavily, heavily European, and I think everybody was very open-minded, objective and accepting. It wasn’t a judgmental environment at all.”
Shannen landed the role of Heather-Duke in 'Heathers', a black comedy which Winona Rider also starred in. The movie was a huge success and received 3 awards and 5 nominations.
Shannen's big success came in 1990, at the age of nineteen she scored a part on Beverly Hills, 90210 as the character Brenda Walsh, who was a teenage twin sister to Brandon Walsh (Jason Priestly). Tori Spelling had saw Heathers and told her father to check it out. He was so impressed with her acting ability and knew she would fit the part right away. She Attracted a lot of attention from the press and eventually got a celebrity status where she was recognized everywhere she went. The moment she realized just how huge was when she wound up on the cover of Rolling Stone, with Luke Perry and Jason Priestley. She gained two Young Artist Award nominations for Best Young Actress in a Television Series. It was a very successful popular teen drama. She recently revised her role as Brenda in the CW television network’s spin-off version of the show, 90210, alongside former castmate Jennie Garth.
In 1994 Shannen left Beverly Hills, 90210, because she wanted more privacy and to stay out of the public eye for a while. Her farther was sick and she wanted to spend time with him. She worked on 'Mallrats' and 'Almost Dead' to keep her acting career alive.
She slowly did her celebrity status justice again, appearing in 'A Burning Passion: The Margaret Mitchell Story ' 'Gone In The Night', 'The Ticket' 'Sleeping With The Devil', and the much loved 'Friends Til The End'.
In 1998, she was offered the part of the eldest sister, Prue Halliwell on Charmed, a show about three witches who protect the innocent. She starred alongside Alyssa Milano and Holly Marie Combs (her best friend). She was nominated for two Saturn Awards for the role. After just three seasons, she leaves to work on other projects. She had directed three of the last episodes she had starred in. Since leaving Charmed she has been in many different movies, one of which was 'Another Day' which she co-produced under her own production company called 'No Apologies'. She also hosted season one of 'Scare Tactics' and eight episodes of season two but had to leave so she could work on her own show, called 'Breaking Up With Shannen Doherty'. As well as being in the show, she also produced it.
Shannen's beauty has attracted many guys over the years. A few of her ex's include, Dean Factor - (owns photo studio; met in 1990; briefly engaged; separated 1991), Chris Foufas - (real-estate developer; couple exchanged commitment rings 1991; separated 1992). She married Ashley Hamilton - (son of perma-tanned actor George Hamilton) in September 24, 1993, but they got divorced five months later because she felt they weren't right for each other and they married within 2 weeks of meeting. Judd Nelson - (actor; together 1994; met on the set of Blindfold), Rob Weiss (actor, director; met in 1994; announced engagement December 1995; reportedly separated April 1996). Richard Solomon - (who is a producer) and Shannen got married in secret in Las Vegas on January 24th 2002, in front of family and friends. They were married for nine months, but their union was annulled in late 2003, but remain good friends. In April 2010 Shannen got engaged to photographer, Kurt Iswarienko and married him on October 15th, 2011. They reside in Malibu, California in a Spanish-style mansion with their pet dogs and horses.
In 2010 she was part of the 10th season of the ABC hit reality series, Dancing With The Stars and released her own book called Badass: A Hard-Earned Guide to Living Life with Style and (the Right) Attitude. She is also an art director for a glossy monthly magazine called 'Pasadena'. She is in charge of choosing cover designs and photo spreads for the Californian publication. On top of that she is also studying for a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts.
In April 2012 Shannen starred in her own WEtv reality show called 'Shannen Says'. Shannen took viewers on the bumpy and hilarious ride toward the altar with her (then) fiancé, Kurt Iswarienko where she only had seven weeks to plan and pull off her big day. Shannen and Kurt were both executive producers for the show.
In January 2015 Shannen and her best friend, Holly Marie Combs filmed a new show together called 'Off The Map With Shannen & Holly'. The GAC travel show followed them both on a road trip across the Southeastern United States through Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and Florida. The series followed the two Charmed ones as they "travel unknown roads" and "meet locals" while tackling "exciting adventures" with help from viewers. Viewers voted on which activities they do at each destination.