Interview with Tiffani Thieesen of "White Collar" on USA - Primetime TV Show Articles From The TV MegaSite

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By Suzanne

Tiffani Thiessen

Interview with Tiffani Thiessen of "White Collar" on USA 2/4/11

This is the second time I have had the pleasure of speaking with Ms. Thiessen. She is always so nice and seems a lot like her character on this show, plus she is very clearly a good mom as well. White Collar is a really enjoyable show that I never miss. Make sure to watch it if you're not already doing so.

Final Transcript
MEREDITH CORPORATION: White Collar Q&A With Tiffani Thiessen
February 4, 2011/2:30 p.m. EST

Cathy Choe Ė New Media Strategies
Tiffani Thiessen Ė White Collar


Moderator Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for standing by and welcome to the White Collar Q&A With Tiffani Thiessen conference call. At this time all participants are in a listen-only mode. Later we will conduct a question and answer session. Instructions will be given at that time. As a reminder, and per your host, this conference is being recorded. I would now like to turn the conference over to our host, Miss Cathy Choe. Please go ahead.

C. Choe: Thank you, Nancy. Good afternoon. This is Cathy Choe from New Media Strategies. Iíd like to thank everyone for joining us for todayís White Collar Q&A session and start things off by thanking Tiffani Thiessen for being with us today to answer questions.

As you know, Tiffani stars as Elizabeth Burke on the hit series White Collar, which airs Tuesdays at 10/9 Central on USA. In a moment weíll begin the Q&A session. Iíd like to remind all participants that you will receive a copy of this transcript within the next 24 to 48 hours. I would also like to remind everyone to please limit yourselves to one question and then re-enter the question queue for any additional questions. This will ensure that we field as many questions as possible within the allotted time.

I would now like to turn this call back over to our Moderator: to begin the formal Q&A session. Please go ahead.

Moderator: Thank you. The first question is from Pattye Grippo from

P. Grippo: Itís actually, but thanks. Hi, thanks for talking with us today.

T. Thiessen: Oh, thank you. Iím so sorry you guys, everybody, for me being a little late. Iím kind of here by myself with my little girl, so she was a little fussy, so I had to be a little late and I apologize profusely.

P. Grippo: Oh, itís no problem at all. So, let me ask you, your character of Elizabeth, in what ways would you say you are most like and least like her, your character that you play?

T. Thiessen: I think Iíve said this before in an interview that as one of the first characters that Iíve played in the 20 some odd years Iíve been doing this business, crazy business, that I feel most like my character this time. I inspire to be Elizabeth Burke every day.

I love that she really is a very career driven woman, I love that she puts her relationship and her marriage first. I love the relationship that she does have with her husband where thereís a lot of love between the two of them, thereís a lot of trust. But thereís also a great friendship between the two of them, so I definitely feel like a lot of those aspects, I definitely feel like I have in my own life.

The really only difference that I see, and a big difference, is the fact that they donít have children and I, of course, now have a little seven and a half month old myself, so I think those are the only real big differences.

P. Grippo: Okay, well, thank you very much.

T. Thiessen: Yeah.

Moderator: Now we have a question from Jamie Steinberg from Starry Constellation. Iím sorry, go ahead.

J. Steinberg: Starry Constellation, thank you so much for taking your time to talk to me.

T. Thiessen: Oh, thank you for having me.

J. Steinberg: I was wondering, what keeps challenging you about playing your role?

T. Thiessen: Whatís been challenging about playing the role? Itís hard; itís actually one of the nicest, you know, I think I had said this in the first question that was asked to me that itís one of the closest roles to myself that Iíve played in my, probably in my entire career.
So, I have to say itís not really been a tough role in this sense because I do feel like itís kind of close to home for me. I think probably the hardest thing is the juggling aspect of my personal life, now having a baby and going to work and I think thatís really probably I have to say, really the hardest thing right now is just the juggling of baby and work and doing all that, you know. Everything else has been really quite nice and fun and itís really one of the nicest jobs that Iíve had in a very, very long time.

We, I feel very blessed to have the cast and crew that I do, so.

J. Steinberg: Well, thereís some amazing guest starts coming up. Is there anyone youíd like to see come on that hasnít been on?

T. Thiessen: Oh, we welcome all great actors to come on our show. I think any show thatís been running for a few years, I think they tend to always love to have some really interesting, fun people and the fact that we have Billy Dee Williams coming on next week.

And he was so much fun. I actually had done a movie with him years and years ago. I did a movie called Ladies Man, which was a Saturday Night Live movie.

J. Steinberg: Yes.

T. Thiessen: And he was in it and so it was really nice to actually see him again and work with him again. So, I canít even say anything specific, but itís nice to have legends like that, too, to come onto our show.

J. Steinberg: Well, please send Harper my best.

T. Thiessen: Oh, I will. Sheís sitting right here.

J. Steinberg: I can hear.

T. Thiessen: Oh, Iím sure you guys can hear her.

J. Steinberg: Thank you.

Moderator: All right. Now we have Brittney Frederick from Digital Airwaves. Go ahead.

B. Frederick: Hi, Tiffani. Itís great to talk to you.

T. Thiessen: Oh, thank you.

B. Frederick: One of the things I love most about your character is you actually have a normal, healthy marriage on TV, which we never see anymore.

T. Thiessen: Thatís exactly what I say all the time. I said itís one of the first scripts that Iíve read in a really long time, when I read the pilot, that it was actually a marriage that actually works on TV because most of the time marriages on TV are filled with drama and affairs and distrusting each other and itís all the opposite with the Burkes, which is what I really, really enjoy about the relationship.

B. Frederick: Whatís that like to play for you on a weekly basis, you know, building that relationship with Tim and so on?

T. Thiessen: Oh, Tim is - Iíll tell you he is such an amazing man. I fell in love with him the moment I met him. I was always such a big fan of his work, watched a lot of his shows in the past and so when we had our first chemistry read we hit it off from day one.

And, funny enough, itís like he and my real husband, they have a lot of similar qualities about each other, so it actually kind of just fits and it was just a really great relationship that took off from really day one.

B. Frederick: Awesome. Well, thank you so much and best of luck with the season.

T. Thiessen: Oh, thank you.

Moderator: Now we have Lauren Fishman from PopCultureMadness. Please go ahead.

L. Fishman: Hi, Tiffani. Thanks so much for taking the time out.

T. Thiessen: Oh, thank you for having me.

L. Fishman: So, after all of your experience on various sets, so you have a chance to offer your input or say into your character?

T. Thiessen: We have a great relationship with our writers and our producers and creators of our show and they always welcome our ideas, which is actually really nice because not every show is like that. And thereís been a few little inputs that I have - at the very beginning they had Elizabeth have a different career.

At the time I think when the pilot was written she was an accountant and they ended up scratching that during the pilot and shooting and thatís why in the pilot you really donít know what she does for a living because they couldnít figure it out.

And so when the show got picked up I sat down with Jeff Eastin, the creator, and we kind of went around some ideas of what possibly could be her job and her career and Iíve always thought that if I wasnít an actor I always wanted to be an event planner, an event coordinator.

So, thatís where that idea came from. I told him and he was like I love it, so thatís actually, it was definitely a big input of mine.

L. Fishman: Well, thatís definitely one of the reasons I watch the show because I love, I wanted to be an event planner, too.

T. Thiessen: Oh, see, there you go. I love it. Yeah, Iíve always dreamed about doing that if I stopped the whole acting craze. I always thought that it would be such a fun kind of thing to do.

L. Fishman: Well, we can start a company together.

T. Thiessen: I love it. Great idea.

L. Fishman: Thanks so much.

T. Thiessen: Thank you.

Moderator: Now we have Kelly Dimincho. Please go ahead.

K. Dimarzio: Dimarzio.

Moderator: Oh, Iím sorry.

K. Dimarzio: Thatís all right. Hi, Tiffani.

T. Thiessen: Hi, how are you?

K. Dimarzio: Good. I really enjoyed Elizabethís role in the ďBurke 7.Ē

T. Thiessen: Oh, thank you.

K. Dimarzio: And I was wondering what it was like to finally get to be part of the con?

T. Thiessen: It was actually really fun and you actually get to see even more of that towards the end of this season. I was a little absent the first half of the second season because, of course, I was pregnant and I had my daughter at the time. But I always love to get into the mix with the guys. I mean, how much fun is it to work with Tim on his actual business/career side of things and with Matt, heís adorable.

And then Willie, you know, theyíve actually started doing more and more scenes with Willie, which has been really quite fun.
K. Dimarzio: Itís great chemistry.

T. Thiessen: Yeah, we all have really great chemistry. Itís actually a very; itís a rarity I believe that all of us really have such great chemistry and we actually really enjoy each other, which makes work so much nicer.

K. Dimarzio: Thatís great. Thank you so much.

T. Thiessen: Thank you.

Moderator: Now we have Suzanne; say your last name, Suzanne, Iím sorry.

S. Lanoue: Lanoue.

Moderator: Go right ahead, Suzanne.

S. Lanoue: Oh, hi.

T. Thiessen: Hi.

S. Lanoue: I was wondering if you had taken your baby in to see the set and how they all reacted?

T. Thiessen: Oh, no, my child goes with me everywhere. I made a little joke actually on a Ė I see you, sweetie Ė as you can hear her.

S. Lanoue: She thinks weíre talking about her.

T. Thiessen: Yes, but wherever myself goes she goes and sheís pretty much attached to my hip these days and has been from day one. So, she actually, and my mom, who helped me a lot last year when I came back after having her, they came to the set with me every day because I was nursing and Iím still nursing, so she goes with me everywhere. So, sheís a definite little veteran already on set.

S. Lanoue: Aw, thatís great.

T. Thiessen: Yeah.

S. Lanoue: Do you think that if Peter and Elizabeth ever had children that they would have more reasons, well, not reasons, occasion to fight because Elizabeth said before that they never fought.

T. Thiessen: That they never fought? You know, I think they.

S. Lanoue: They bicker a little. I mean, who doesnít bicker, right?

T. Thiessen: You know, and itís funny. I even look at my own marriage and really my husband and I really donít fight. We bicker, of course, we have disagreements, but thatís normal in every marriage and I think thatís the same with the Burkes.

I do think, though, when you add children definitely I think thereís more stress put into, you know, I can speak for ourselves right now, weíre so tired because when you have an infant you donít sleep, and so that definitely puts more stress in a relationship and Iím sure probably, but I just, again, I go back to I love the way Jeff has created this relationship between the two of them, that they have such great communication skills and they really are there for each other and thatís whatís important.

S. Lanoue: That would be a great addition, actually, to the show when you think about it because it would give them, it would give Peter more to worry about, having a kid.

T. Thiessen: Having a kid.

S. Lanoue: To suddenly worry about and then.

T. Thiessen: Itís funny; I thought that to a certain degree.

S. Lanoue: Well, heís FBI, you know, the threat.

T. Thiessen: But I really actually enjoy them not having children. Interesting enough they remind me of a few friends of mine who have been married for a long time and have such a great relationship that their dog is their child and each other is their priority and itís kind of just their relationship and I actually really enjoy that.

S. Lanoue: Well, plus you have Neal and heís kind of a big kid.

T. Thiessen: Exactly.
S. Lanoue: Thank you.

Moderator: All right. We have Gilamar Paz from Series on TV.

G. Paz: Hi, how are you, Tiffani?

T. Thiessen: Iím good. How are you?

G. Paz: Great, thanks. The name actually is Guillermo Paz. Iím from Argentina.

T. Thiessen: Oh, nice to be here.

G. Paz: Thanks. There are a lot of White Collar fans here. I wanted to ask you whatís the best thing about being in White Collar and what would you say to recommend the show to someone who isnít already watching it?

T. Thiessen: Oh, wow. My favorite thing about the show is my cast, the guys and people, the actors that I get to work with every day are really what is the pure joy for me. Itís one of the greatest casts that Iíve ever worked with, so.

And for people who arenít watching the show, itís one of the most entertaining TV shows on TV right now. It has a lot of suspense, it has a lot of comedy. It has a little bit of everything and itís a really fun show and I think thereís a reason why itís gotten such good reviews and I think thatís why the show is doing so well is itís got a little bit of everything, which is nice.

G. Paz: Great. Iím also doing a little documentary piece about how to make it in the industry. I just want to ask you whatís the best advice you could give to a struggling actor whoís just starting?

T. Thiessen: Say that again, repeat yourself, Iím sorry.

G. Paz: I said Iím doing a documentary piece about how to make it in the industry.

T. Thiessen: Oh, how to make it in the industry.

G. Paz: Yeah, and I would like to know whatís the best advice you could give to struggling actors who are just starting?

T. Thiessen: I think determination, being resilient is probably the only thing that you can really tell somebody because it really is one of the hardest businesses to make it and to crack, but the more that you can kind of push yourself and stay into it, the better chances you have.

G. Paz: Great. Thanks so much, Tiffani.

T. Thiessen: Mm hm.

Moderator: All right, now we have Lena Lamoray from Please go ahead.

L. Lamoray: Hey, Tiffani. Itís a pleasure to speak with you.

T. Thiessen: Oh, thank you.

L. Lamoray: One of my favorite scenes in ďForging BondsĒ is when I get to meet Elizabeth and puppy Satchmo. What did you think about that episode and about the back stories of all the characters?

T. Thiessen: You know, it was fun because at the beginning you kind of come up with your own story of how things started, the characters and like the relationships that started and things like that. And sometimes theyíre different than what the creator had envisioned.

So, it was actually kind of fun to see what his true vision was with all the characters and how Elizabeth and Peter met and how their relationship started and how the whole relationship with Nealís character and my husband and all of that, and Willie, and all of that it was actually quite fun. It was one of my favorite episodes as well.

L. Lamoray: Are there any surprises in it for you?

T. Thiessen: Any surprises; no, itís funny, I never thought a mustache would be part of the episode, but I think Tim looks great in a mustache. I donít know why we actually got rid of it.

L. Lamoray: Thank you very much.

T. Thiessen: Youíre welcome.

Moderator: All right. Now we have Kimberly Workman from Spoiler TV. Please go ahead.

K. Workman: Hi, Tiffani. Thanks for talking to us.

T. Thiessen: Oh, thank you.

K. Workman: Your character has emerged as a strong and very positive role model for women. Did you approach the role with this potential in mind or did it just happen organically as a result of the writing?

T. Thiessen: Well, it was definitely written that way and that was one of the reasons why I loved the character so much and I go back to the fact that, and Iíve said this a few times that you donít see a lot of strong women have strong marriage relationships on TV. You just donít see it very often, so that was one thing that I really, really enjoyed reading the script about and really falling in love with Elizabeth in that sense.

So, absolutely, it was the writing for sure and then of course every actor puts their own two cents into a character to make it their own.

K. Workman: Well, thank you very much.

Moderator: Now we have Erica Blake from

E. Blake: Hi, Tiffani. Thanks for talking to us today.

T. Thiessen: Thank you.

E. Blake: I wanted to know if you could go ahead and tell us the differences between working in L.A. versus New York.

T. Thiessen: The weather. That is the biggest difference as itís like 75 degrees here today and itís freezing back in New York City. That is probably the biggest difference. But whatís really nice, Iíve always wanted to be bicoastal, itís so funny; and then, so when this job came about I kind of had like a little wish come true where we get to spend six months in New York and six months in L.A. and two great cities, I think.

And now that I have a kid itís even fun to be able to have her kind of really have both cities because they are so, so different in the sense, the noise and the lights and the excitement of New York City itís such an amazing city and the restaurants and everything that it has to offer, the arts and all that.

And then L.A., we have great weather. I mean, itís like 75 degrees year round it seems like here in Los Angeles and itís beautiful and youíre outside all the time. So, sheís got the best of both worlds, so itís just really nice.

E. Blake: Do you find that being an actress itís easier to work, though, in one city versus another or the attitudes are different?

T. Thiessen: Yeah, it used to be that it was easier to find work in Los Angeles, but thatís really shifting now. Itís shifting a lot, where I find a lot of my friends who are actors are not even shooting in Los Angeles anymore, which is, I think, actually a very big problem.

As you know and everybody knows, our state is broke. So, hopefully, the big guys will kind of figure something out and try to get our entertainment industry here in California up and running again because it really has, itís hard for a lot of people, the economy and stuff, and so itís funny that every single one of us from the show is from Los Angeles and we technically all live in L.A. and so we actually commute and uproot ourselves to New York City every time we go back for the show.

E. Blake: Okay, well, thank you.

Moderator: Right now we have Karen Mull from

K. Mull: Great. Hi, Tiffani.

T. Thiessen: Hi, sweetheart.

K. Mull: Iím kind of new to White Collar.

T. Thiessen: Okay, youíre a newbie.

K. Mull: I am. Iíve watched the last several episodes. I was interested in watching ďBurke 7.Ē Elizabeth plays that small role in the con. It was interesting; it came so spontaneously and so naturally to her.

T. Thiessen: Oh, thank you.

K. Mull: To just grab the phone and Iím wondering where do you think that comes from in Elizabeth that she sort of was able to do that and what does that maybe signal?

T. Thiessen: Well I think for her itís been that sheís been around her husbandís business their whole entire relationship and if you did season one, you would actually even from the very beginning, from the pilot, you saw that she was the kind of wife he would bring home his work a lot and actually bounce a lot of ideas off of her.

So, she was very, very involved with a lot of his cases and got involved and knew very much about Neal being that he was a character in both their lives for a very long time. So, I think it did come naturally because I think sheís around it constantly with him. And thatís kind of where I take it from.

K. Mull: Well, I have to tell you, I spent 20 years working as an event planner.

T. Thiessen: Oh, did you? I love it.

K. Mull: And I saw that as a very natural; an event planner is a troubleshooter and I just saw it as a natural.

T. Thiessen: Well, I mean, sheís a producer, basically. You know, thatís what event planning is. You produce, you definitely try to dodge bullets and make things okay for people, so I agree with you.

K. Mull: Thatís right. Think weíll see her play a bigger role in some future cons?

T. Thiessen: I think so. Last year, I told everybody I had a baby and so I had to miss a lot of the episodes and I was gone and back in Los Angeles having the child and then when I came back after six weeks of having her, you know, it was still kind of a big transition for me, so youíll see a lot of me towards the end of this season, because I am back after having the baby and then we actually start season three in like six weeks, so.

K. Mull: Oh, great. Well, good luck. Thank you very much.

T. Thiessen: Thank you.

Moderator: Now we have Lance Carter from Daily Actor. Please go ahead.
L. Carter: Hey, nice talking to you.

T. Thiessen: Nice talking to you.

L. Carter: So, when you do a show for a long period of time how do you keep your character fresh for you?

T. Thiessen: I think itís a dance between the writers definitely keeping the words fresh and putting, you know, constantly exploring the character as you kind of peel the layers back like an onion almost and really kind of digging more and more, which is actually kind of funny how the last episode of White Collar was very much that way of kind of going into the past of a lot of these characters and figuring out how the relationship started and stuff and I think that has a lot to do with keeping characters interesting for the audience to watch.

L. Carter: Cool. Thanks.

T. Thiessen: Mm hm.

Moderator: Now we have Katherine Welch from Televixen. Please go ahead.
K. Welch: Hi, Tifanni. Thanks for talking to us.

T. Thiessen: Thank you.

K. Welch: I really enjoyed seeing the friendship between Elizabeth and Neal develop over the show and have you enjoyed playing that dynamic and do we have any?

T. Thiessen: Oh, absolutely. Well, we certainly donít want to stand next to Matt and work with him.

K. Welch: Really. Is there any good stuff between them coming up soon?

T. Thiessen: There is actually. Towards the end of this season, I think itís either the second to the last episode or the last episode Ė I canít remember the order number, I have a little baby brain still these days Ė but we actually do the whole entire episode pretty much the two of us together, which is actually quite fun and I donít want to give it away because itís actually a really great episode, but we actually work a lot together.

K. Welch: Great. Canít wait to see that.
T. Thiessen: Yeah.

K. Welch: Thanks very much.

T. Thiessen: Uh huh.

Moderator: All right, we have Kelly Dimarzio again from Please go ahead.

K. Dimarzio: Some of the former cast of Saved By The Bell have done Dancing With The Stars. Have you been approached or is it something youíd ever consider doing?

T. Thiessen: Iíve been approached quite often and itís not something Iíd consider actually. Itís just, itís not in my future I see. I give a lot of credit to people who actually do it because it looks like itís a lot of work, but right now for me my life is about my show and acting and my kid now and my husband.

K. Dimarzio: Sure.

T. Thiessen: Thatís not really a part of my world at this point.
K. Dimarzio: Great. Thank you.

T. Thiessen: Mm hm.

Moderator: All right. And we have Guillermo Paz from Series on TV. Go ahead.

G. Paz: Hi. It seems my name is very difficult. I wanted to ask you, you have an extended resume on some of the most iconic shows of the last 20 years perhaps. Do you think maybe weíll get to see a little wink or reference to any of the shows?

T. Thiessen: Meaning going back and doing one of the shows, is that what you mean?

G. Paz: No, no, in White Collar, doing, I donít know, a crossing the back.

T. Thiessen: Oh, in White Collar, oh, I see. You know, honestly Iíd never even thought about it. I donít know if the producers have thought about it either. Thatís a good question. It wouldnít be really a question for me, it would be a question probably for Jeff Eastin.

G. Paz: Okay. And who would be your dream guest star for White Collar?

T. Thiessen: Who would be my biggest what, Iím sorry?

G. Paz: Guest star.

T. Thiessen: My biggest guest star, oh wow. Weíve had a lot of great guest stars and we have more. Like I just had mentioned that Billy Dee Williams is on the next episode and heís such an icon. It was quite fun to actually have him on the show and work with Diahann Carroll and the two of them, actually they have such a real history together where they actually went to high school together, which was actually kind of fun to learn.

I mean heís amazing and I had done a movie with him years ago, so it was really fun to actually work with him and see him again.

G. Paz: Oh, okay, great. Thanks.

T. Thiessen: Mm hm.

Moderator: All right, we have Karen Mull from again.
K. Mull: Hi. You grew up in the business. I think youíve been working since you were maybe eight years old or something like that. And now youíre a mom.

T. Thiessen: I am.

K. Mull: And Iím wondering if you, how you feel about maybe getting your daughter started or if she came to you and wanted to get started at such a young age?

T. Thiessen: I know. Iíve actually gotten asked this a lot lately and itís nothing I would encourage. And the reason being, you know, 20, 30 years ago when I was in the business it was a lot different than it is nowadays. And nowadays, with the tabloids being as aggressive as they are and people making money off of the misfortunes of actors, I just would not want her to be susceptible for that kind of stuff.

I mean, and when sheís old enough and over 18 and can make those decisions then, of course, I would support her in whatever she wanted to do. But when sheís under 18 I would definitely not advise it. Itís not something I would wish for her at this point.
K. Mull: Well, you sound like a very smart, sensible mom.

T. Thiessen: Thanks.

Moderator: No additional questions, Miss Choe.

C. Choe: Great, thank you so much. Ladies and gentlemen, that will conclude todayís session. Iíd like to once again thank Tiffani for joining us and remind everyone to tune into new episodes of White Collar on Tuesdays at 10/9 Central on USA Network.

Thanks, again, and enjoy the rest of your day.

T. Thiessen: Thank you, guys.

C. Choe: Thanks, Tiffani.

T. Thiessen: Thanks, everybody. Have a great Friday. Sorry, again, for being late.

C. Choe: Thatís okay, no problem.

T. Thiessen: All right, have a great day, you guys. Have a good weekend.

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