Charisma Lee Carpenter was born July 23, 1970, in Las Vegas. She studied classical ballet from age five. Her family moved around often. As a youngster, she entered many local beauty contests, and attended Gorman High School in Las Vegas. At 15 the family moved to Rosarita City, Mexico, and then to Bonita (a suburb of San Diego, CA), where she attended Bonita High. Charisma finally transferred to Chula Vista School of Creative and Performing Arts, where she graduated in 1988. In high school she was a cheerleader, and did the typical teen things: sneaking out and having boys over when mom wasn’t home. Charisma’s nature tends to be pensive, which some classmates unfortunately misinterpreted as being snooty.
She audited classes at Playhouse West and was cast in over 20 major commercials, including a long stint for Secret deodorant. She also performed in a number of theater productions, including “No, No, Nanette” and “Welcome Home, Soldier.” This tall (5’7″) beauty with the striking looks, brunette hair with chestnut highlights and hazel eyes was a natural for TV; she started in an episode of Baywatch (1989) in October of 1994. Because of that appearance, Aaron Spelling personally auditioned her for the role of Ashley in Malibu Shores (1996), which had a brief run from March to June of 1996. Despite its short run, TV Guide noticed her and said she was beguiling and had the most fleshed-out character on the show. Charisma auditioned for the title role in Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997) but wound up being cast as Cordelia. She had doubts about this and did not want to play a bitchy character again, but her agent reminded her that she couldn’t be typecast until people knew her. She is quick to point out she is nothing like her TV persona, noting, “People might think I’m this awful person, but I’m not–I’m a nice girl”. Fans and producers liked the character enough that she was transferred to a bigger role on the spin-off series Angel (1999). A long career in TV now seems assured for Charisma.
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