Celebrity Then And Now
Publication: Albany Daily News. Posted by Lexi Schwartz
Celebrity Then And Now
Posted by Lexi Schwartz
Parent Trap III, Saved by the Bell
Currently Known For:
1987 - Present
August 27, 1970
Parent Trap III, Saved by the Bell
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There are certain productions that seem to stick with you long after you’ve grown. If you were raised in the late 1980s and into the mid 1990s, you’re likely to remember shows like “Saved by the Bell” and the “Parent Trap” films. If you do remember those, you’re familiar with the work of actress Leanna Creel. She enjoyed a nice start to her career but decided ultimately to walk away from acting for the most part. Now, she works behind the camera and has been for more than a decade.
Creel was born on August 27, 1970 in Los Angeles, California where she’d establish her career. It’s obviously the perfect spot to land acting gigs no matter what age you are, and Creel was a teenager when she started receiving her first roles. Early on, producers could see that Creel had a lot of potential to be a star.
This was helped by the fact that Creel was part of identical triplets that were born on the same day. Along with her sisters Monica Lacy and Joy Creel, they were hot commodities as twins and triplets are considered to be a benefit as child actors. Labor laws say that minors can only work so many hours in a day or week, so identical triplets are able to step in for each other to avoid one of them going over the allotted hours. You might recognize Monica from recent work on shows like “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” and “Hawaii Five-0”.
“No one understands what it’s like to share your reputation, your identity, with two other people,” Creel said of being a triplet. “I’ve had to really fight to stand out, to be my own person, because we do have the same basic personalities and a lot of the same characteristics.”
Creel appeared on screen for the first time when she appeared in an episode of the hit series “Growing Pains” in 1987. Two years later, Creel had perhaps her most memorable role with the TV movie “Parent Trap III”, playing the main character of Lisa Wyatt. To round out the decade, Creel had several more roles including an afterschool special as well as another “Parent Trap” TV movie and a guest spot on the series “My Two Dads”.
Creel then remained busy during the early 1990s as she had guest spots on the shows “Beverly Hills, 90210”, “Anything But Love” and “Parker Lewis Can’t Lose” on top of a TV movie appearance. Then, in 1992, Creel landed the role of Tori Scott on the hit series “Saved by the Bell”, thought he role would last for just 10 episodes. For the remainder of the 1990s, Creel had just a couple of roles with guest spots on “Ned and Stacey” and “One West Waikiki” while her most recent role came in the 2000 film “The Cell”.
In the 2000s, Creel has been more interested in directing and producing. She first started producing in 1997 with “Mixed Signals”, though that avenue has been more frequent in recent years. Her most recent producer credit came in 2018’s short film “The Curse”, and she’s directed five different productions since 2001, most recently with the 2013 documentary “Anchor Baby” that she also wrote, which followed up “Promtroversy”, “Offside” and others.
“It was baptism by fire,” Creel said of changing her career path. “I worked with Will Ferrell and Ben Stiller and Kate Hudsona and learned a lot about filmmaking. But then I decided, ‘I think I want to be behind the camera,’ so we sold our (production) company to Lionsgate.”
Creel now runs her own production company and has had ventures on the internet that have proven to be quite successful. One famous game amongst movie buffs is the Hollywood Stock Exchange, which Creel worked for at one point. For more than a decade now, Creel has also been married to her wife Rinat Greenberg, and the couple has had two children along the way.
People still recognize Creel and her sisters from the work, especially in her brief run on “Saved by the Bell”. “If you told me then that in 20 years, people would still recognize me from ‘Saved by the Bell’, I’d say, ‘Shut up,’” Creel said. “Even at the time, it was kind of campy and not necessarily something I’d want to be remembered for.”
Talking about the show, Creel said she didn’t quite match the same personality that some of the other stars had. “Mario (Lopez) liked to take his shirt off and Mark-Paul (Gosselaar) wanted to have his hair be brown but the producers wouldn’t let him,” Creel said. “I’m boring because I wasn’t part of any shenanigans. They were at the height of feeling their power, but they were super sweet.”
That doesn’t mean that Creel has completely abandoned her history with the show, however. In fact, she appeared as a guest star in “Bayside! The Musical!”, an off-Broadway production that was based off of the famous series. “I hope (the audience) gets a good laugh,” she said of the performance. “Especially at my expense.”
For Creel, she’s a good example of a former child star that was able to keep her head on straight even when finding fame so early on. “I didn’t start acting until I was 15, and I’ve noticed that the kids that ‘went down darker paths’....usually started a lot younger when it was more difficult to keep a balanced perspective,” she said.
As for what she wants to be remembered for, Creel says that “Personally, I want to make a difference in people’s lives, and to be remembered as a kind and generous person. As for work, to choose material that inspires hope. I’m a sucker for hope.”