Then there are some who prefer celebrating the day of their birth in low-key, but still really special, style. Of course, we had to ask Jessica about her birthday traditions. Surprisingly, she said she's not a big fan of parties... "I haven't had a birthday party since I was five," she told us. "I don't really like them. It's kind of like asking for attention--you know, come to my birthday, buy me a present." probably did more for my 16th birthday than I've done in awhile," she remembers. "Everything was perfect that day. The first thing in the morning my dad taught me how to do U-turns because I had to get my driver's license that day. So I learned U-turns, got my license, got my car [a convertible], and went shopping at my favorite store, Ralph Lauren." "I used to shop there all the time, so they all knew me. When I got there, everyone that was working opened the door and sang 'Happy Birthday.' It sounds cute, and now it's cool, but at the time I was just standing there; I was a little embarrassed! "Then my family met me there with roses and we all went to high tea at the Beverly Wilshire [a famous hotel near Rodeo Drive that has a beautiful dining room. Note: the Beverly Wilshire was featured prominently in the film "Pretty Woman."] I love high tea!" Being uneducated in the importance, or even definition, of high tea, I had to clarify just what it is. "It's 4 o'clock tea, like in England," she explained. "They bring around pastries and little sandwiches. I collect antique teacups and antique linens and everything; so it was really fun. "After that, we went to Le Dome for dinner [a classy, Hollywood industry restaurant on Sunset Boulevard great for star-spotting. Think Spago or Morton's]. It's one of my favorite restaurants. It was like the day you don't stop eating! When we got there, the presents and everything were already on the table. "Two of my favorite gifts were from my dad--he gave me a gold bracelet and a ring." And how did this dream day from the heavens end? "Well, I drove home by myself for the first time--a 45-minute drive home. And that was it! A pretty busy 16th birthday," she laughs. Gee, I'll say! But there are certain ages that people love celebrating the most--like the 13th, 16th, 18th, and 21st. (It's all downhill from there! (wink)) So it makes sense that those days are the ones when you should do the most memorable things. And it sounds to me like this was one birthday Jessica will never forget!


Jessica's fans know they can catch her every week as Colleen Cooper on the popular program "Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman." For those of you who may have missed the past six years of the show, here's a rundown so you'll be able to catch up this week (and you'll also be able to find out what Jessica's been doing for the past three years)! "Dr. Quinn" is a one-hour drama set in the 1800s, revolving around the life of Dr. Michaela Quinn (played by Jane Seymour). Her father, Josef, had wanted a son, so when she was born he named her Michaela (nicknamed Mike). Her father was a doctor, and he spawned Michaela's passion for medicine: she practiced alongside him for seven years until he died. After her father's death, Michaela packed up her bags and moved to Colorado Springs, Colorado (where the show takes place). She soon became the town doctor, and moved into the boarding house ran by the town's midwife, Charlotte Cooper. After staying and befriending Charlotte, she rented a homestead from a loner man named Sully. Eventually, Sully and Michaela's friendship turned into romance--they got married and Michaela gave birth to their daughter, Katie, in 1871. In the meantime, Michaela's good friend Charlotte died of a snakebite. While she was on her deathbed, Michaela promised she would look after Charlotte's three children: Matthew, Brian, and Colleen (Ethan Cooper, Charlotte's husband, had left the family long ago). Colleen (Jessica) was understandably devastated by the death of her mother, but she eventually grew very close to Michaela, and decided to pursue the field of medicine as well. Colleen is very intelligent, and excels in mathematics (believe it or not, that's Jessica's favorite subject as well!). Did you know Jessica won the 1996 Young Artists Award for Best Performance by a Young Actress in a Dramatic Series? Not only that, but she was also nominated for a 1997 Hollywood reporter Young Star Award. You go, Jess! Lately, Colleen has been involved in a romance with Dr. Andrew Cook (played by Brandon Douglas). Dr. Cook was brought to town to help with the birth of Michaela's daughter Katie, and it seemed they had a chemistry right from the start. However, Andrew first pursued Colleen's best friend Becky, but that never blossomed into anything. Eventually, Colleen and Andrew grew closer, and they decide to become partners in his medical practice when she graduates from college. As this season began, an epidemic of diphtheria struck the town, killing both Becky and Colleen's Aunt Marjorie. Despite the tragedies, Andrew and Colleen grow closer and closer in a sweet and touching way. How touching? Well, there is even a website devoted strictly to the romance between Andrew and Colleen! Jessica had been involved in acting, commercials, and modeling for quite awhile before the call came to audition for the part of Colleen. Although it was for a great role, Jessica was hesitant at first. "I was about to turn 14 when I went on the audition," she remembers. "At first I didn't want to go, because it was replacing another character, so I didn't want to do that. And also, I was scared of Chad Allen--I thought he'd be snobby because he's a famous teenager and he's really hot and all that stuff. So I didn't want to work with him because I was very intimidated. And I didn't want to replace another character. But then finally I was like, oh get it over with and go, just be professional. I went to one call back and I was on the set two weeks later." So, was Chad the frightening snob you thought he'd be? "No!" she laughs. "Chad was so sweet. To this day he's one of my favorite people there." When Jessica and her buds are just kickin' it, they blast the tunes and dance around the room. Their favorite dancing CDs? The Spice Girls ("I despise them so much that I love them!"), Puff Daddy, and Notorious B.I.G. The cast and crew finished shooting this season's episodes, and won't return to Paramount Ranch (where the show is filmed) until July. But they all still seem to bump into each other, even when they're not on the set. "Jane and I live five minutes apart from each other," she tells us. So, do you go over each other's house to borrow sugar? we ask. "Well, we're not that close. Her driveway is about a mile long, so....her gate is near me," she laughs. "And I see Chad a lot, too, because he lives nearby. Whenever we have to do "Dr. Quinn" publicity events, Chad and I will go together and hang on each other's arms all day; it's really fun. He's a sweetheart."


First of all, Jessica and the "Dr. Quinn" gang have wrapped up shooting this season's episodes. They don't head back to Paramount Ranch (where the program is filmed) until July--leaving four whole months of just fun, sun, and lazing around! Well, in a perfect world maybe. In the real world, Jessica's got enough to keep her busy through July and beyond. The main thing tying up her time right now is school, school, school! Although Jessica already has her high school diploma (she passed an equivalency exam), she's in her senior year finishing up a few classes that she needs to get into a four year college. So there's all the regular school stuff going on--homework, tests, studying--but that's not all: Jessica is also the valedictorian of her graduating class! (For those of you not familiar with the American lingo, this means the person who graduates with the highest grade-point average of their class). Congrats, Jess! In addition to school (and the nerve-wracking preparation of writing and delivering a ten-minute graduation speech), Jessica's been going out on tons of auditions to keep her acting muscles pumped between now and July. "Everything's kind of climbing on top of each other right now, being it's pilot season. So I've been going on auditions for random movies of the week, features and guest appearances." Guess what her ideal project would be? (Here's a hint: think Freddy, Jason, and an audio track guaranteed to shatter glass.) "I want to do one of those horror films, like "Scream," because they're so much fun. I love cheesy horror movies. They're very funny!" Slasher flicks are, after all, the vehicle that launched Jamie Lee Curtis's career and provided her with lifetime membership to the horror hall of fame. And it's not doing too much harm to Neve Campbell's career, either, now that edge-of-your-seat thrillers are all the rage. I can picture Jessica as the 90s life-protecting heroine, can't you? When she's not zipping from audition to audition, Jessica finds time to welcome magazine journalists and photographers into her life. This spring you can catch her in the new magazine "Cowboys and Indians," featuring a fashion layout of Jessica posing in country and western clothes. And the always-styling "Seventeen" came calling recently to offer a spot in their May issue. You can catch Jessica as that month's "sports girl," talking about her love of hiking. Tons o' stuff going on in Jessica's life...but everyone needs a break every now and then, right? Especially when it's SPRING BREAK! So Jess and four of her friends are hopping a jet to the hot and sunny Cabo, Mexico for a fun-filled ten days. "I've never been on vacation with all my friends before. One of my friends' parents are going, but we have our own hotel room. So we'll just be dancing around with the Spice Girls blasting!" And that's not all--there are tentative plans to head to Europe for her mom's 50th birthday, and a possible trek to Hawaii for her friend Nicole's ice skating competition. With all these international jaunts planned, I think we should christen her Jessica "Jet-setter" Bowman! What do you think? :)