Tiffani Thiessen had flashbacks while working on 'Alexa & Katie'

By Karen Butler  |  March 22, 2018 at 6:01 AM
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March 22 (UPI) -- Saved by the Bell and Beverly Hills, 90210 alum Tiffani Thiessen said working on the teen sitcom Alexa & Katie has brought back memories regarding what it was like to be a young-adult actress.

"It's truly like seeing myself over again -- like in a flashback a little bit," the 44-year-old California native told reporters in New York recently.

"One, it's a sitcom. Two, they're of that age. Three, it involves high school. The only difference is we didn't have as much of a family dynamic [on Saved by the Bell.] It was really just about the kids. I joked that the phones are smaller [now,] that's about it," she said.

Thiessen said its been fun to see it through the eyes of the teen actors.

"Whereas, I'm an old hat and have been doing this over and over and over again. . . It's not as exciting now that you've done it for 30-some-odd years. So, it's neat to see the excitement again and the newness that they see in it."

All 13 episodes of Alexa & Katie Season 1 will be available on Netflix March 23. The half-hour show follows lifelong best friends who are about to start high school as one of them is undergoing treatment for cancer. Thiessen plays sick Alexa's mom.

So, what does Thiessen think of her cast-mates, newcomer Isabel May and Mighty Med and Lab Rats: Elite Force star Paris Berelc?

"They're good kids. They're really good kids. That's something that does remind me [of when I was younger.] I was a good kid, too," she said. "I definitely pushed envelopes every now and then. But I always knew to come back and knew I had to be responsible. I liked doing what I did and I knew that it was somewhat precious and I didn't want to ruin it. And these girls are much like that."

Speaking to UPI in a separate interview, Thiessen said she likes how the show balances comedy and drama because it authentically represents life.

"Yes, it does have a very heavy topic to it... She's struggling with cancer and having to fight and the things that come with that," the actress said. "But then the way they also look at it is pretty much everyone can say they've been touched by cancer. . .It's everywhere, really everywhere."

The actress explained that Alexa & Kate portrays a normal TV family and friendship and shows how the cancer battle brings them closer together and how they support each other through it.

Thiessen witnessed the courage of juvenile cancer patients and the heartache their loved ones experienced for years when she worked as a counselor at a summer camp in Idaho.

"I saw kids from 6 to 16 with it, very different degrees of it," she recalled. "Some that were manageable, some that were much, much harder. Sadly, some kids that didn't come back the next year. It was a huge eye-opener. This was way before I had kids. I don't know if I could go back and do that same thing, having children now. "

Thiessen -- now the real-life mother of two children and the wife of actor Brady Smith since 2005 -- said she could totally relate to Lori, the character she plays on Alexa & Katie.

"She's extremely strong. She can be a little controlling and anal at times, which I could say all those things about myself, but you definitely see this little bit of a roller coaster that she's being put on," she said.

Thiessen is also the host of the cooking program Dinner at Tiffani's. Her other credits include the TV shows Fastlane, What About Brian? and White Collar, and the films Son in Law and Hollywood Ending.

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