Shannen Doherty on Being a Badass, Her New Book, Plus the 'Badass vs. Bitch' Quiz
Shannen Doherty has been called a lot of things: wild child, bad girl, and seemingly most often, bitch. It's a label she's carried around for decades, mostly stemming from the antics of what she calls her "Terrible 20s." As far as what she's best known for, it's a toss-up. On one hand she's a celebrated actress, most recognized for playing Brenda Walsh on Beverly Hills, 90210, and on the other she's a tabloid drama queen, having made headlines for relationship foul-ups, public fights and even a DUI.
But these days Shannen has a new moniker for herself: badass. And she's written a book, aptly titled Badass: A Hard-Earned Guide to Living Life with Style and (The Right) Attitude, that's part autobiography, part self-help guide for the hopelessly thin-skinned.
We caught up with Shannen to discuss her book, what exactly makes a badass, whether or not J. Crew can be badass attire, the evolution of the TV minx, and of course, Donna Martin's graduation.
Plus, take Shannen's Badass "Pop Quiz: Are You a Bitch or a Badass?"
What is a badass, and how does a badass differ from a bitch?
I think a bitch is somebody who's malicious, who will walk over others to get ahead, selfish, has no compassion, has no consideration for not only others but the world in general. And makes mistakes and couldn't care less, and doesn't really learn from her mistakes.
And a badass is obviously the opposite of that. A badass is somebody who will still, on occasion, fall down and make mistakes, but they get up, brush themselves off and they learn from it, and they don't make that same mistake ever again. They have compassion, integrity, strength, and it's not a boisterous strength they have to put out there, it's an inner strength that shines through.
Your book is mostly geared towards women, but can men be badasses too?
Definitely men can be badasses. I think there are always honorary badasses that are men. My dad was a badass.
We recently heard of his passing and are very sorry for your loss. Your book reveals how close to him you were.
Yeah, he was my best friend. I learned everything from him. With being a badass, and my dad being a badass - that person you can go to who's always the voice of reason, who sort of sits you down and keeps you on your path and on your journey to being a better you - he was definitely that man. So it's devastating at the moment.
What was your motivation for writing an autobiographical book as more of an instruction manual as opposed to a straight narrative?
It was basically because I gave so much advice to my friends, girlfriends and boyfriends, about business, relationships, about everything, that at some point one of my friends looked at me and said, 'Uh! You should write a book. We could really use that.' And I stopped and I thought, 'you know, she's kind of right,' because I think to write a book that's sort of more realistic and touches on problems that everybody has and everybody feels - relationship problems, insecurities, job insecurities, whatever it is - but to tell it in such an honest way and to be able to say, 'hey, this happened to me, also,' and 'here's what I did,' and to use yourself and your own life experiences as examples. It's easier to relate to that kind of a book. Plenty of people can pick up an advice book, but they don't seem as realistic, and heartfelt and relatable to me.
So my goal with this book is to be really brutally honest about myself. We all know that I've made gigantic mistakes, and that I've fallen down many, many, many times, but it's not about how many times you fall down, it's about how you pick yourself up afterwards and conduct your life from that point on. That's what makes a badass.
The image of a badass is someone with tattoos who rides motorcycles. What if a woman out there loves the J. Crew catalogue and is a huge Celine Dion fan, but she embraces it. Can she be a badass too?
Oh yeah! I mean my grandmother - I call her in the book 'the original badass' - my grandmother sure as hell doesn't have tattoos and ride motorcycles. My grandmother is a proper Southern lady.
I don't ride a motorcycle, you know, being a badass has nothing to do with how you dress. Most of the time I'm in blue jeans and a sweatshirt, having no style, with my hair in a ponytail.
It's a feeling, it's an attitude, it's looking at the world as a place you're privileged to live in. It's how you make the world a better place while making yourself better at the same time.
I'll tell you the funniest story. My grandmother was in church, and one of the parishioners came up to her and said, 'So, you're a badass!' and she turns around and goes, 'Well, yes I am!' And he said, 'Well, I think I'm a badass too!' And everybody in the church started talking about if they were badasses or not! And this is a dirty, you know, Mississippi, down home, Southern church where you've got the heart of America there - these amazing, amazing, amazing people in the South. And they were just all chuckling and so tickled to be talking about badasses. And that's what the book is meant for. It's meant for people like that or people who want to aspire to have that sort of energy.
You mention God a few times in the book. Do you consider yourself religious or spiritual? And how can spirituality play into being a badass?
I'm spiritual. I believe in God, and when I was much younger, I went to church. For me, just for me, it's my personal belief. I do think that some form of spirituality is important. Whatever your own particular brand of spirituality is - for me, it's about believing in a higher spirit, or just believing in karma. What comes around, goes around. It's so true. And karma is a spiritual thing to begin with, and a badass will always believe in karma.
You list Angelina Jolie, Drew Barrymore, Oprah and Tina Fey as some of your modern badass idols. How did you pick them?
I can look at Drew Barrymore and say she was a girl who went through her own trials and tribulations, who made mistakes, and probably still does, but she learned from them and she grew as a human being, and you can see within her kind of a goodness. She's just a nice person while out there and conquering her world. Conquering the things she wants to do in her life, whether it be producing movies, she does it with integrity, with a smile on her face, and with this positive energy that exudes from her.
The same with Angelina Jolie. As I say in the book, there was that run where we were all like, 'Huh, wow, what a beautiful, stunning talented girl. Where's she doing with that vial of blood around her neck? What's going on?' But what was going on was she was doing her own thing, and living her life, and look at where she's at now. She's one of our biggest philanthropists. She's a humanitarian. The things that she does for this world are unbelievable, while raising a brood of children! And working. Just utter class and integrity.
It's the same with Oprah. Everything that she does. I think they're inspirations.