If Shiri Appleby — best known for her role of Liz Parker on "Roswell" — could go back in time and tell herself one thing, she would suggest that no matter what life gives you, be sure to enjoy the ride.
"I would tell myself that nothing's that bad. My ride has been great so all you have to do is relax and breathe through all the things that happen. The mistakes you make are part of who you are. You accept those mistakes and see the beauty and knowledge that comes from them. When you are in your 20s, that's the time to make all the mistakes. Nothing is as dramatic as you think," Appleby says.
The majority of work Appleby has done since starting her professional acting career at age 7, on the daytime drama "Santa Barbara," has been in very dramatic productions. She finally is getting a chance to show off her lighter side in the new Lifetime movie "Kristin's Christmas Past."
The film is a light comedy about what happens when a modern day 34-year-old woman wakes up in 1996 to deal again with the worst Christmas of her life. She comes face-to-face with her teenage self, a rebellious teen (played by Hannah Marks) who thinks her mother (Elizabeth Mitchell) is too demanding; is madly in love with a guy named Maverick and thinks life will get better once she graduates and moves to New York.
Appleby jumped at the chance to be in the holiday movie because of its sweet and funny tone, plus its message about dealing with life. One of the things that she has learned to deal with is the lack of comic roles on her résumé.
"People know that I know how to do dramatic roles," Appleby says. "You become known for one genre. Now, I'm starting to show that I can do other things."
The Christmas holiday her character faces is a disaster, nothing like the holidays Appleby has spent over the years. She not only celebrates Hanukkah but has celebrated Christmas with friends. She is particularly excited about this holiday season because it will be the first for her daughter.
Appleby shot the Lifetime movie only two months after giving birth. At first, she felt guilty about being away from her child, but the movie proved to her that she can be both mom and actress. The Lifetime movie was a perfect vehicle to test that idea because it was shot in 15 days in Los Angeles.
One of the best parts about working on the film was the chance to work with Marks. The pair spent a lot of time together coming up with ways to play both the younger and slightly older versions of the same character.
Just as in the film, it was a chance for Appleby to talk to someone going through many of the same things she faced when she was starting in the business.
"I saw a lot of myself in her. I told her you have to leave the past alone and she will one day appreciate the struggles that you have to go through," Appleby says.
The test run with "Kristin's Christmas Past" was good enough to get Appleby to agree to shoot the pilot for a potential new series on Lifetime. "Unreal" is a dark look at what happens to the people behind the scenes of reality TV programs.
Appleby describes her character as a sociopath, another role that takes her back to the dramas with which she is so closely associated.
In the real world, Appleby has no interest in being on a reality program that features celebrities. There is only one reality show from her past that interests her.
"Back in the day, there was the show 'Circus of the Stars.' I was obsessed with it and would have loved to have been one of the celebrities on the trapeze," Appleby says.
That would be a part that would be fun and have a lot of drama.
"Kristin's Christmas Past," 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 23, Lifetime
TV and movie critic Rick Bentley can be reached at (559) 441-6355, firstname.lastname@example.org or @RickBentley1 on Twitter. Read his blog at fresnobeehive.com.