The Sunday Conversation: Shannen Doherty


Shannen Doherty returns to prime time in her new WeTV reality show, “Shannen Says,” which follows the former “Beverly Hills 90210” star as she plans her recent Malibu nuptials to photographer Kurt Iswarienko with the help of celeb wedding planner David Tutera.

How did your show come about?

The idea for the show came about when my husband and I went to Mexico for Valentine’s Day one year and we were discussing working together and how much we were enthralled and enamored with Anthony Bourdain and his show,”No Reservations,” and also “Deadliest Catch.” The way that their shows are shot, the quality of their shows and the rawness of “Deadliest Catch,” just the complete and utter gritty, raw honesty of that show and how it was incredibly moving. And we were looking at celebrity reality-driven shows and we were like, huh, I wonder if you could bring that kind of quality to that medium. So we started playing around with the idea. When I did my book “Badass,” the response from women was pretty overwhelming. I opened the door into my life a little bit and they were getting to know me better, and there were so many things they could relate to that I’d gone through.


Do you like celebrity reality shows on the whole?

Not particularly, no. I always question the validity and the honesty of the shows. I always roll my eyes and go, really? I think there are always exceptions to that rule; I think there are shows out there that are more honest than others, and those would be probably the ones that I would watch. I’m not a big TV watcher, anyway.

In the opening of your show, you say, “Everyone thinks they know you.” What did you mean?

It’s copy I actually wrote myself, and again, that will show you how authentic and truthful the show is. Everybody does think they know me. They read about stuff when I was in my 20s and they assume I’m still the same person. Or they think they know what my marriage is going to be like or what my relationships are going to be like, because I’ve been doing this for 30 years. But in truth, once I got out of my early to mid-20s, I became much more private than people ever gave me credit for. Sure, there were a couple of relationship snafus along the way that became somewhat public, but I’m not the girl who’s ever defended myself. I stay quiet and let it go away.

Is that why you named your production company No Apologies?

Yeah, I named it No Apologies for multiple reasons. It was a little bit of a wink-wink-nudge-nudge thing. It should have been more aptly named No More Apologies. I felt like I’d already apologized enough, and now I’m a grown woman and I’ve learned from my mistakes. I’m not going to apologize for my mistakes anymore. It’s time for everybody to let that go and realize there’s a much wiser, more developed, vulnerable, sensitive human being than they think.

In your youth you had a reputation for being difficult. Do you think you’ve lost work because of that?

Oh, God, yeah. I don’t even think it; I know it. I definitely lost work. To be honest, I still lose work because of it. There are some people that won’t even consider me for a movie or a show because they only remember what they heard about me when I was 19, 20 years old. It’s a constant battle having to prove myself within the industry, that I’m a grown woman and I’m settled down and I’m super happy. And I believe that everything is a collaboration in life, and compromise is essential. Thank God, in the last 10 years or so, there are plenty of people who’ve worked with me who will go to bat for me and call producers and directors and attest to the fact that they had absolutely no issues and it was actually the opposite — that I was incredibly giving and supportive on the set.

But yeah, I lost work back then, I continue to lose work, and those are the kind of mistakes I made in my youth that I wish to God I didn’t make, that I regret wholeheartedly because it’s affected a career that not only do I love what I do and I’m passionate about what I do, but it has also affected a career that supports a family. And it’s not just about me. There were my dad’s medical bills and his medicine to pay for, and it’s not until you get a little bit older that you’re like, wow, I really made this tough for myself and it didn’t need to be so tough. And maybe my career would have taken a different direction if I’d been wiser and older, but I wasn’t. I started young and I got”90210”kind of success very early, and it came at a time in my life where I was a petrified kid.

Are you hoping your new show will help wipe the slate clean and reposition you in the industry?

No, I don’t think any one project can do that. I think that I just have to stay positive and buckle down and be the hard worker that I now am. And I just have to keep banging on doors and meeting people and auditioning and saying, “Hey, this is my passion, this is my life and it’s something that I’m actually really good at. Give me a shot and I promise you won’t regret it.” I don’t think any one show can change that for me nor do I think a reality show can change that for me. I think it’s hard for an actor to do a reality show and try to continue acting. I think that’s difficult. It’s my ultimate goal, but this came up at a time in my life where I felt that it was beneficial for me to get some things off my chest, to share myself with my fans, even with people who aren’t my fans. But it’s not my career, it’s not what I wake up to do every single day.

Since your show is about your wedding, let’s talk about your husband, Kurt. How did you guys meet?

We met originally on a photo shoot. I was doing the cover of a magazine and I had photographer approval, and somebody showed me a picture that he’d taken recently and I was like, let’s have that guy take my picture. Then I got to the set and I walked in and he was setting up a light, and his head turned and looked at me and my eyes rose and looked at him and I went, Oh, no. There was a spark there that later we relish talking about that moment and what it meant for us, from the spark that goes from one hand to the next when you shake hands. But neither of us was in the right place in our personal lives to pursue it. So we walked away and it was like, that guy is special. There’s something there. Then two months later we worked together and we were both free and available and it was time to let those sparks loose.