She’s been playing Cordelia Chase for six years, but while Sunydale High’s queen bitch has grown, so has the actress who plays her, Charisma Carpenter…
In meeting Ms Charisma Carpenter, one soon discovers that, unlike her cast mates in television’s Angel, she didn’t grow up wanting to be an actress. Indeed, even though she was born in Las Vegas, Nevada, she studied classical ballet from age five. Then, when her parents moved to Mexico, she commuted to San Diego, California, to take classes at the School of Creative and performing Arts. Eventually, she found herself in Los Angeles, attending college and working as a waitress to pay for her expenses. It was then that a commercial agent suggested she’d do well in television advertisements, and it was from the ensuing 20 commercials that she landed an acting role on the popular beach-based series Baywatch.
Once introduced to acting, Charisma put aside her dancing ambitions to devote all her time to acting. That dedication, of course, led to her role as Cordelia Chase, a human turned hlaf-demon who receives visions from on high to assist Angel in combating the dark forces in Los Angeles. Having been there, done that on her own, the young actress now has her sights on other aspects of her life, like her boyfriend, her religious commitment and, of course, her TV character.
“When I first started playing Cordelia, she wasn’t nice,” she offers, “and she’s really transformed. She’s really deepened and has a stronger sense of responsibility and what the mission is. She’s a team player now. At first, I wasn’t sure [if] the fans were not coming up to me because the show was new, or if it was because I was just too nasty and they were afraid that I might comment on their attire or something. So it’s changed a lot in respect to people coming forward. I think people now know who I am as a person outside of my character.”
Included in that persona outside of her character is a young woman who might surprise her fans when they discover she is a fitness enthusiast. Some might call her overly enthusiastic on learning of her interest in tennis, roller-blading, rock climbing, hikinm sky diving and even something called Boot Camp. “I just took up this new interest called Boot Camp, yes,” she acknowledges when asked. “It’s at nine in the morning, and it’s a half-hour sprint running on a treadmill, so it’s really good for your cardio and it keeps your body lean. And then we do weight training or yoga.”
Of course, her lean frame allows her to be one of those young womnen who looks good in virtually any clothes she chooses, and she does love her favourites. “I’m very much like Cordelia in that aspect,” she explains. “I definitely love clothes and I love shoes in particular. My parents kind of raised me to remember a couple of different things.
“One is pride of ownership,” she explains. “So if you have a car, no matter what kind of car it is, keep it clean always. And keep your nails clean and wear nice shoes. That’s sort of what I got from my father,” she adds with a chuckle. “And as far as clothes go, I like more eccentric designs,” she says, “Like Alexander McLean. I love fashion.”
Her other great love is the man in her life. “Yes, I’m actually engaged,” she says with a broad grin.
“I’m in love and I’m very close to my fiance and my family, and when I’m not working I like to be with them.” As for her husband-to-be, she acknowledges thart his name is David, and adds, “he is not an actor. He’s in school. He’s working his way through school and he works part-time in a hotel.”
The obvious question is how he handles her career, specifically the attention she gets, including fan mail and male adulation. “He’s pretty impressive on his own,” she says lovingly. “He wouldn’t be my boyfriend otherwise. He’s pretty special. But no, he handles it really well. He’s a surfer guy, you know, so he’s very laid back, and when I’m not doing this I’m very laid back with him. We’re at the beach, we’re living our lives, hanging out with our family and dogs.
“Ultimately, I want to have a family and I want to always still work in this business,” she says matter of factly. “But I don’t want to be about just the business, for me personally. It’s a sensitive thing. My life touches too many other people’s lives and I’ve had to go through my own personal growth and challenges. The tendency is to be put on a pedestal and the truth is I’m just living my life like the next person, doing the best I can with all the wonderful gifts that I’ve been given. An there are times when you don’t appreciate them or I forget to realise that it’s not forever. It’s not the essence of life.
“My purpose is to remember what the essence of life is,” she explains. And those relationships that I make in my life, they have to count and they have to mean something.”
Along those lines, one discovers that religion has a significant role. “I recently pursued Confirmation in my church and when I finished it, I went to catechism and I was working and I was attending those classes which you have to attend two days a week and then on Sunday. And I did that. I completed it and had my Confirmation. So yes, I am always a spiritual person. Sometimes my religious aspects conflict and I have to concentrate on that and find unity where there is so much disunion or discord or chaos. I have to strive also to remember the limitations of man-made laws. But I feel like I’ve found something that is as close to my spiritual beliefs as I could possibly get.”
Not surprisingly, Charisma wears her Catholic commitment on her person in the form of a tattoo.
“It’s a rosary,” she explains. “It’s caused a lot of conflict on the show because the relationship my character has with vampires undermines [my beliefs]. But it has nothing to do with the show. It has everything to do with me. It has to do with where I am.
“When you’re on a show things can become distorted,” she suggests. “Things become about other things, rather than what stuff is really about. And for me personally, I needed to get back to ground zero and back to the meaning of life and what my purpose is and the most important relationship I have with my higher power, as I choose Him to be.
“This, she gestures toward her tattoo, “is my reminder. This is my personal ID.”
Original article at Cult Times