Shannen Maria Doherty (English pronunciation: /ˌʃænən ˈdoʊɚt̬i/; born April 12, 1971) is an American actress, producer, author and television director, known for her work as Heather Duke in Heathers (1989), as Brenda Walsh in Beverly Hills, 90210 (1990–1994) and its spinoff series 90210, and as Prue Halliwell in Charmed (1998–2001).
Doherty was born in Memphis, Tennessee, the daughter of Rosa, a beauty parlor owner, and Tom Doherty, a mortgage consultant. She has an older brother (by four years) named Sean. Doherty has Irish ancestry with Catholic roots, though she was raised in her mother's Southern Baptist religion. When she was seven (in 1978), her family moved to Los Angeles, and she immediately announced that she wanted to be an actress. She speaks French and Spanish.
Doherty had guest spots on TV series including Voyagers!, Father Murphy, and Airwolf starting in 1981. When a casting notice was released in Hollywood for a regular role on the popular Little House on the Prairie, she jumped at the opportunity and eventually won the role of Jenny Wilder at the age of 11, thanks in part to actor/producer Michael Landon seeing her guest spot on Father Murphy, which he also produced. Doherty stayed in the series until the show's cancellation in 1983. In 1982, Shannen lent her voice talents to the animated film The Secret of NIMH. In 1985, Doherty starred as Maggie Malene in teen-comedy movie, Girls Just Want To Have Fun, alongside actresses Helen Hunt and Sarah Jessica Parker.