In the late 1990s, actress Charisma Carpenter rose to prominence with her portrayal of Cordelia Chase in the acclaimed supernatural drama, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.”
Her character, known for her sharp wit and memorable lines, resonated with many fans of the show. After gracing “Buffy” for three seasons, Carpenter transitioned to its spinoff, “Angel,” where she continued her role as Cordelia, now burdened with visions, for an additional four seasons.
Her significant roles in both “Buffy” and “Angel” solidified Carpenter’s place in the realm of genre television.
However, post-2004, after her time on “Angel,” Carpenter’s presence in high-profile roles seemed less frequent, though she continued to work in various television and film projects.
Some of her notable works include roles in “Charmed,” “Veronica Mars,” “The Lying Game,” and the “The Expendables” film series.
As we delve deeper into this article, we’ll explore Carpenter’s early career, her subsequent roles, and her current endeavors, nearly two decades after her iconic performances in the Buffyverse.
While she might not be as ubiquitous on our screens as she once was, Carpenter’s impact and legacy in the Buffyverse ensure she remains cherished by countless fans.
Born in Las Vegas, Carpenter is the daughter of Christine, a bird sanctuary worker, and Don Carpenter, a salesman.
She boasts a diverse heritage, including Spanish, French, and German roots. Carpenter’s early life was marked by her involvement in a song-and-dance troupe in Las Vegas when she was just nine.
At 15, her family relocated to Rosarito Beach, Mexico, and later to San Diego, California.
After high school, she traveled across Europe and upon returning, worked various jobs, including a stint as a cheerleader for the San Diego Chargers football team. In 1992, she made the move to Los Angeles to pursue her acting dreams.
Before her iconic role as Cordelia Chase on “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” Charisma Carpenter began her television career with a guest appearance on “Baywatch” in 1989.
This was followed by a significant opportunity when legendary producer Aaron Spelling cast her in the prime time soap opera, “Malibu Shores,” in 1996.
This role served as a stepping stone for Carpenter, setting the stage for her eventual casting in “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” the following year, which would become a defining moment in her career.
Buffy The Vampire Slayer
Charisma Carpenter graced the screen as Cordelia Chase, a prominent character in the groundbreaking supernatural drama, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.”
Initially introduced as a high school popular girl with a penchant for sharp wit and sarcasm, Cordelia evolved from a mere antagonist to Buffy into a more layered and empathetic character as the series progressed.
Over the course of three seasons, from 1997 to 1999, Carpenter appeared in 57 episodes, captivating audiences with her portrayal.
Cordelia’s character was known for her candidness, often delivering some of the show’s most memorable one-liners.
Her undeniable chemistry with the cast and her character’s transformation from a high school queen bee to a genuine ally in the fight against evil made her an integral part of the Buffyverse.
The transition of Charisma Carpenter’s character, Cordelia Chase, from “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” to its spin-off “Angel” was executed with a narrative that aligned with the character’s personal growth and aspirations.
At the end of the third season of “Buffy,” Cordelia reveals that her family has lost all their money due to tax evasion, and she is unable to attend college as planned.
This financial downfall and the subsequent challenges she faces in Sunnydale lead her to move to Los Angeles in search of a fresh start and a career in acting.
Simultaneously, Angel (played by David Boreanaz) also relocates to Los Angeles after the events of “Buffy’s” third season, seeking redemption and a way to distance himself from Buffy for her own good.
In Los Angeles, Cordelia and Angel unexpectedly cross paths. Recognizing the mutual benefit of teaming up — Angel needs a purpose and Cordelia needs stability — they join forces.
Cordelia starts working with Angel as his secretary and becomes an integral part of his detective agency, Angel Investigations.
Her character is further developed when she inherits the “gift” of visions from the half-demon Doyle, a gift that allows her to see people in distress, guiding Angel to save them.
This new responsibility transforms Cordelia from a self-centered individual to a compassionate and selfless champion, fighting alongside Angel against the forces of darkness.
Over the course of four seasons, Carpenter portrayed Cordelia in 90 episodes.
Career after the Buffyverse
After her time on “Angel,” Charisma Carpenter continued to make her mark in the entertainment industry with a series of notable roles.
She had recurring roles on popular shows like “Charmed” (1998) as the demon Kyra and “Veronica Mars” (2004-2006) as Kendall Casablancas.
While working as a series regular on ABC Family’s “The Lying Game” (2011), she took on the role of host and producer for “Surviving Evil” (2013) on Investigation Discovery, a series that highlighted survivors who bravely confronted and overcame their attackers.
Carpenter’s had guest-starring roles in series like “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” “Burn Notice,” “Supernatural,” “Blue Bloods,” “Sons of Anarchy,” and “9-1-1.”
On the big screen, she secured a supporting role in “The Expendables” and its sequel, “The Expendables 2” , and also starred in numerous television movies across Lifetime, Syfy, and other networks.
What is Charisma Carpenter Doing Now?
Charisma Carpenter has been in the news recently, primarily due to her statements regarding Joss Whedon, the creator of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Angel.”
Carpenter has publicly addressed her experiences with Whedon, describing him as a “former tyrannical narcissistic boss.”
She has been vocal about the allegations against Whedon, calling out his behavior during her time on the shows. Carpenter’s revelations have led to a broader discussion about Whedon’s conduct, with other cast members and industry professionals weighing in.
For instance, Sarah Michelle Gellar shared a message following Carpenter’s comments about Whedon. Additionally, other “Buffy” and “Angel” co-stars, including David Boreanaz, Nicholas Brendon, Amy Acker, and James Marsters, have also responded to the allegations, with some offering support to Carpenter.
The actress has expressed gratitude, notably thanking David Boreanaz for his “private” support during this period. The discourse surrounding these allegations has reignited conversations about workplace conduct in the entertainment industry.
Charisma Carpenter has been involved with two non-profit organizations – Project Shine and Thirst Project. Project Shine provides arts education for underserved youth in California. Their mission is to ignite creativity in young people by providing a safe space for self-expression. Carpenter supports their work through donations and by making appearances at their events.
The Thirst Project is an international water charity that works to provide clean water access to communities in need around the world. Carpenter first traveled to Swaziland with the organization and has continued supporting their efforts. She donates a percentage of the proceeds from her fan convention to the Thirst Project.
In 2020, Carpenter launched her own fan convention called “My Exclusive Insider”, focused on science fiction media. She wanted to create a carefully curated event connecting fans with talent in a more intimate setting than large comic cons. A portion of all ticket sales are donated to the Ronan Thompson Foundation for pediatric cancer research, in addition to the Thirst Project. Carpenter enjoys the convention as a way to interact with fans and give back through designated charities. It provides a platform to discuss projects she has in development like “The Young Entertainers” based on her childhood.