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Amber Benson was born on January 8, 1977 in Birmingham, Alabama. As a young girl, she studied singing, dancing as well as acting. While still in her teens, she was involved in productions at the local community theatre. Her family moved to Los Angeles soon afterwards in 1992 so she could pursue a career in acting. Her first movie role was a minor part in King of the Hill (1993) where she played a good-natured, epileptic teenager and hotel resident which was set in 1930s Depression era Indiana, which was immediately followed by another supporting part of Cheyenne, the best friend of Alicia Silverstone in The Crush (1993). A string of roles followed with her acting in three made-for-TV Jack Reed detective movies playing the daughter of the title detective as well as other minor and bit parts in Imaginary Crimes (1994), S.W.F. (1994), and Bye Bye Love (1995). She's also acted in a number of independent film productions and film shorts including Take It Easy (1999), Deadtime (1999), Don's Plumb (2001), Hollywood, Pennsylvania (2001). But Amber is probably best known for playing Tara, the shy, withdrawn witch and love interest of Willow for three seasons on the series "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" from early 2000 to 2002. Amber has also tried her talent at writing and directing, starting in 2001 with the little-seen independent comedy-drama Chance (2002) where she played the title character. She has also wrote various stage plays as well as the scripts for other independent movie productions like The Theory of the Leisure Class (2001) and Ghosts of Albion (2003) (TV).
More fun stuff about Amber Benson
At 6 years of age she was a dancer in the Alabama Ballet Company's productions of the Nutcracker Suite.
Has had roles in movies with actors whom she would later join on the cast of BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER: Lindsay Crouse and Eliza Dushku in BYE BYE LOVE (1995) and Seth Green in CAN'T HARDLY WAIT (1998).
Her motion picture debut was in Steven Soderbergh's KING OF THE HILL, where she played a shy epileptic neighbour.
Was nominated Young Artist Award for Best Youth Actress Co-Starring in a Motion Picture Drama in 1994 for KING OF THE HILL.
Hair color: Blonde
Eye color: Blue
Music Love: Jeff Buckley; various singer-songwriters
Flick Picks: ANTONIA'S LINE, THE SECRET OF ROAN INISH, KING OF THE HILL
Favorite color: Blue
Of her own work she is most proud of her work in the film KING OF THE HILL, her appearances as Tara on BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER and her own movie project CHANCE.
Loves to read and spends a lot of her down time on set reading.
Favourite authors: Ray Bradbury, Susan Cooper, Marion Zimmer Bradley, J.K. Rowling (the 'Harry Potter' series), and Christopher Golden (the 'Body of Evidence' series).
Lives in Los Angeles with her mother, her dog Pennsylvania (aka Penny) and her cat Benneton (aka Benny).
Traveled to Romania to film the movie TABOO.
In 2001, at the age of just 24, Amber directed, wrote, produced and starred in her own movie called CHANCE. It was presented at the Sundance Film Festival in 2002.
Amber Benson interview - Mourning Tara
Reflecting on Buffy, the Vampire Slayer
Amber Benson had quite an arc on Buffy, the Vampire Slayer. As Tara, she introduced Willow to lesbianism, sang beautifully in Once More, With Feeling, inspired her recovery from magic addiction and then died the most tragic death I can remember on television. She was supposed to return as an incarnation of Tara, but that didn’t work out, so that fatal gunshot was the last time we saw her on Buffy.
She came to the series finale party to celebrate with the rest of the cast, and all dolled up, she looked like Tara’s elegant twin sister. Remember, Tara was kind of a hippie, and though cute, never wore the sort of lovely gown that graced Ms. Benson this night.
Were you disappointed it didn’t work out for you to come back? Yeah, but you know, things work out the way they’re supposed to. And now Willow has a really hot girl as her new love interest, so.
Next question was what do you think of Willow’s new girlfriend? Oh, Kennedy’s a cutie and she’s really nice, the girl the portrays her. She’s a sweetheart. I met her a couple of times.
How do you feel about your ultimate arc on the show? I thought it was really an excellent arc. It was depressing and it was sad but it needed to be done. We were talking about addiction and you kind of have to hit bottom and lose everything before you can pull yourself back up.
What do you think of the show ending? I think it’s sad. It was seven really good years and I don't think it was a bad show.
Is this party a celebration or a mourning? Someone asked me if it was a wake. I think it’s a wake. There’s gonna be a lot of bloodletting going on in the party.
Is it going off at the right time? I don't know if it’s the right time or not, but it hit its peak and it could go on, but it didn’t have to. It would’ve been nice if it did. It ended on a good note, but it could have continued. And Angel I hope will go on too.
What are your next projects? I just did a film called Latter Days and I co-wrote an animated internet show for the BBC called The Ghosts of Albion.
That’s online? Yeah, bbc.co.uk/cult/ghosts.
What about Chance? We’re looking for a distributor now.
Buffy star Amber Benson as a role model
Q: What's it been like being a role model for young girls who are exploring their sexuality?
I've gotten the most amazing letters from young women who have come out because of the relationship that Tara and Willow had on Buffy. If you can make an impact on society in a positive way, it's the most amazing experience.
Because I'm not doing anything other than what I would do as an actor or as a normal person, it's just that people respond to it. I'm not out there pandering for it.
People became embroiled in the relationship and it made them realise that it was okay to be what they were. It doesn't matter who you sleep with, it's how you treat other people in this world.
Q: Did the fan reaction change after Tara died?
It was really tough. The way she died was awful, it was really, really horrible and I wish that it hadn't happened, but I understood from a story standpoint why it had to go in that direction.
The only way that Joss could get Willow's character to that level of desperation was to take the one thing away from her that she loved which was Tara. As awful as it was, he was really trying to put the message out that Willow's problem with magic was a allegory for drug abuse.
[It was an allegory for] anything where it's an addictive, obsessive thing, when you drink too much or you do drugs, you sleep around and have no care for yourself. That's what Willow was going through, this mad obsession, this addiction, and the only way she could go back to reality was to bottom out. Then she could return to the Willow that we all know and love.
Q: Did you like the way season six became about the horror of real people?
I thought season six depressing as a cast member and as an audience member, because everybody was going through these awful experiences. I think it was a really dark season. It was a lot of fun to do, acting-wise, but I thought it was emotionally very unsettling.
You have the Troika, the three guys running around doing all these horrible things for God knows what reason. It was interesting to have humanoid villains that were rooted in our three-dimensional reality... or four dimensional reality, I'm not sure which!
Q: Can you tell us why you chose not to return for season seven?
I wish that we could have worked it out but there were extenuating circumstances that I don't really want to go into.
I would love to have come back but sometimes there are things in your life that you have to stand up for and to tell you the God's honest truth, I really didn't want Tara to be bad, and that would have been a component of me coming back.
As much as I wanted to come back - and I almost did - that was something that was dogging my not wanting to come back. I just felt like people really loved that character and for her to be bad would just destroy people. So that was one of the reasons I didn't go back.
Q: Before Once More, With Feeling, what sort of musical background did you have?
I actually started out doing theatre when I was a kid, so I did a lot of musicals, but nothing professional with the singing until Buffy, which was kind of fun.
I gather you and your sister sang a song at one of Joss Whedon's Shakespeare readings, which became a catalyst for him to write the musical?
Yeah totally. We would all go to Joss's and we would read Shakespeare and afterwards it would kind of regress into musical theatre craziness.
We would all be singing around the piano while Joss played, and because Tony was an amazing singer, and I could sing and Emma sings, it was kind of a natural progression toward doing a musical.
Q: In season six, Willow famously made Tara forget about an argument they had. Anything you'd actually like to forget?
Right now, no. I think we're the sum of our experiences, so I wouldn't change anything, I wouldn't want to forget anything, even the weird stuff and the bad stuff. It makes you who you are.