Exclusive Interview: Charisma Carpenter talks survival, action figures, and a different ‘Graduation Day’| September 2, 2013 at 3:11 PM EDT
On her new show, Surviving Evil, Charisma Carpenter delves into a murky, silent part of her early adult years. And in this exclusive interview on Small Screen Scoop, she talks with us about a more positive slant towards moving on with life, and where her life has taken her into new directions to meet incredible, real-life heroes like Seth Maxwell and Maya Thompson.
A question that often was asked at the sleepovers I attended growing up was whether you were more afraid of supernatural evil or human evil. What would you say to that?
When I was a kid, supernatural fear, for sure. …Now…definitely true crime fear is more frightening.
I loved the phrase you used about having to “outshine this event that it makes it possible to carry on.”You’ve talked a lot in other interviews about how you had to become a survivor instead of a victim. I think what’s important for people to hear is how the process of becoming a survivor kind of goes. Were there times when you thought you might stumble backwards and stop fighting?
Step by step. I think the process of healing is gradual. I had counseling and a wonderful support group in my family. I think those two things, and time being the third time, is what heals.
As a huge fan of Cordelia Chase, I have to ask… With your Post Traumatic Stress – were you nervous to audition for a show like Buffy?
No. I didn’t even think about that. (Laugh.)
As Cordelia’s role got bigger, did you have to speak with anyone about how sensitive you were to the idea of being attacked?
No, I never had to have a conversation with the executives saying I had a problem being attacked. I think, again, just doing the work on myself I needed to do to move on with my life… And even though I worked on a silly…not silly, an abnormal television show that worked with that kind of stuff, I was able to separate that in a different way.
Do you think it helped you to feel powerful?
(Long pause.) Um… I think that the sense of power is from within. I don’t think my role of Cordelia necessarily facilitated that. It’s an inside job.
Which is the best way because it means anybody can do it. Moving on… did you have a say in the actress playing in you in the flashback on Surviving Evil?
No… I did get a lot of comments that she looked a lot like me.
This man, Hubbard, is leaving jail soon, would you ever agree to meet with him, if he had an apology or do you hope you never see him?
I really don’t even spend any time thinking about that…at all. I have no desire to hear what he has to say.
Now I’m gonna switch gears… We all know Kendall sadly died on Veronica Mars, but are you excited to see the movie and possibly go to the premiere?
Oh, that would be awesome. I’d love to do that.
We hope you’ll be involved in some way. Fans would love it.
I would absolutely show up if someone called or if I was invited.
Finally, I want to make sure we call attention to your favorite charities – Bethlehem Parents Primary School, The Thirst Project, and The Ronan Thompson Foundation. There are so so many action figures of Cordelia Chase – but who are people connected to these charities that you think there should be action figures of cause they’re heroes?
Well, the spearheads of each one are brilliant. I think Seth Maxwell does an amazing job as a very young man. Not only talking about a call of action, but actually being the person to initiate such a worthy cause on his own, starting out on Hollywood Boulevard with a bunch of water, and then taking the 1,500 dollars out of that water… after seeing a bunch of pictures from a friend (of the Ethiopian water crisis)… I think that he does a great job around the nation to inspire other young people to get involved and to raise money. … Seth travels the nation and inspires people from high school to college to get involved, and to explain the water crisis, and the dilemma. He encourages, and helps them and their schools in starting a program. Philanthropy is usually reserved for people…that are older. People don’t really think about giving back until they’re older, and have money to do that with. And I think what Seth does and explains that you don’t have to be wealthy and you don’t have to be a grown-up to give back. So I think he deserves an action figure.
Maya Thompson is fighting for, and advocating for, pediatric cancer, and getting more funds. It’s the least funded cancer there is by the government. And I think that really sends a strong message… We need more funding.
I think a lot of your projects deal with people becoming and identifying as heroes. When do you think you made a shift from thinking, having a graduation day to – ‘I am somebody who can make a difference’, versus I am a cog in a wheel?
I think it was a gradual awakening and I think it started when Maya lost her son. Maya is a dear friend of mine, and her little boy died. And when I realized that something needed to be done I think that was a growing experience… And when I met Seth… through trying to advocate for Maya’s foundation, and kind of got involved with him, and then when I was in the field with Thirst Project in Uganda which is the birth place of AIDS, and I came across Bethlehem Parent’s School and I realized all of their needs, I wanted to make a different there, too. So, I think being a Mom, and watching my friend loose her son, and seeing how much there needs to be done in the world… I think that’s sort of what happened…it was a graduation awakening. The desire to make a different kind of kicked in there.
She has a powerful message, make sure you take some time to really think about it.
I want to thank Charisma for taking the time to speak to us, and remind you that Surviving Evil airs on Investigation Discovery, Wednesdays at 10/9 central.