The amazing actress/author Amber Benson sat down with the website AfterEllen to talk about playing a lesbian on Buffy the Vampire Slayer as well as her love of acting in pretty much every project that comes her way. As a HUGE fan of Amber‘s work myself, I am happy to read and pass along any interview she participates in … read on:
AfterEllen.com: How much did you know about the character, Tara before you auditioned for the part on Buffy the Vampire Slayer?
Amber Benson: Nothing. I knew absolutely nothing. Tara was just supposed to be a friend to Alyson Hannigan’s character, Willow, and it was only going to be, like, two episodes. And then it sort of spiraled into this whole other thing. Everyone else seemed to know it was going to become a lesbian relationship but I didn’t. I was totally oblivious and so was Alyson. It wasn’t until everyone on the crew was like, “You guys have a lot of chemistry” that we were like, “What do you mean ‘a lot of chemistry’?” And then Joss [Whedon] took us aside and said, “By the way, you guys are going to be lady friends now,” and we were like “OK,” but it was not expected. We were not told anything in any way shape or form beforehand, so it kind of came out of left field a little bit.
AE: When you got the role on Buffy and they decided that you were going to have a lesbian relationship, how did your parents react?
AB: Well, my parents are very liberal — more power to ya, you know? My grandparents back in Alabama did not know because they were very religious. So, just the fact that I was on some show called Buffy the Vampire Slayer was way more information then they needed.
AE: They never knew? They still don’t know?
AB: No, no — I played a lesbian on the show and they had no clue. You know, you can’t change people. They are what they are, especially older, very religious people. They are great people — salt of the earth, would give you the shirt off their back, but to them it’s a big deal. We just kept that to ourselves. You know, “Amber plays a witch on TV? Oh no, it’s the end of the world.” Add lesbian witch to that scenario and it would’ve probably given them a heart attack.We were done at “witch.”
AE: There was an interview with you back in 2007 on AfterEllen.com in which you said Tara opened some doors for you and closed other doors. What exactly did you mean by that? What were those doors? Do you still feel like there are certain doors closed to you?
AB: I think it’s better now. That was the beginning of having lesbian relationships on television. Before us, Ellen had a kiss on The Ellen Show, which my hometown of Birmingham, Alabama did not air. They were one of the only places that did not air it, but it was long after I’d moved away.
AE: How did you feel about that?
AB: Well, you know, it’s the South. It’s just a different mindset. And that’s part of why I live in California now. I want to live in a place where it’s OK to be who you are. I can’t imagine being a gay person and living in the South right now or the Midwest, even. It’s really tough, you know.
AE: Did you know, when you were doing it that you were doing something important?
AB: Yes, absolutely. I felt like we were presenting this relationship on TV and we were saying it’s OK to be gay. We were saying that this was a viable relationship, that these people love each other and it doesn’t matter that they happen to be two women. They get along, they are respectful of each other — heck, they basically raised Buffy’s sister, Dawn, on the show. So I felt like we were sort of breaking through the glass ceiling.
I just love Amber so much, she is too awesome for words. You’re gonna hafta head over to AfterEllen HERE to read the rest of her interview. At the site you’ll also find a bunch of amazing photos of Amber lookin’ hawt as all heck! She is one of my fave people in the world, you’ve gotta read her interview :D