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Charisma Carpenter

Charisma Carpenter - About to be a latina and Julie Benz - Latina.com Interview

Saturday 23 July 2011, by Webmaster

Her name is Charisma Carpenter and she’s best known for playing all-American cheerleader Cordelia Chase on the hit TV show, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. But there’s something many people don’t know about Charisma—she’s Latina! "I think it’s the best kept secret ever," said the sweet actress, whose grandfather was born in Spain. "You need to get it out that I’m a proud Latina!"

Charisma says she’s been trying to tell people she’s Latina for years—but they don’t believe her. "They’re not buying it," she says. "I feel a little rejected by the Latina community. I say that in jest—I don’t sincerely mean it. But I mean...a little bit."

The talented actress, who has a huge fan base for her work on Buffy and its spinoff, Angel, thinks she knows why people don’t believe she’s Latina. "I guess I’m too white, too pale," she says. "I guess they’ve never seen me tan...I don’t know."

The 40-year-old actress says she wasn’t raised speaking Spanish—but there’s a reason for that. "My grandfather had a pretty terrible experience being in America and being from Spain," she says sounding a bit more serious. "He came to this country as an immigrant with his family. He was a crop picker: strawberries, cotton, all that kind of stuff. And what would happen back in those days is that parents would go away and send their small children to a boarding house or an orphanage."

Charisma says it must have been a crooked operation because her abuelo was smuggled out of the orphanage in the middle of the night, with his aunt, and adopted out to an American family who mistreated, mocked, and humiliated them. "They thought it was so precious and adorable that they spoke Spanish. They would make them sing in Spanish in front of their friends. Their friends would come over and they were the entertainment, so to speak," she says.

Charisma says the ordeal was very painful for her grandfather. "He was embarrassed by it, so he chose to forget the Spanish language," she says. "He refused to speak it. So my parents weren’t raised speaking Spanish."

Still, Charisma says she managed to learn Spanish on her own. "I took Spanish since I was in the sixth grade and I lived in Mexico for a couple of years her dad relocated there for work when I was in high school," she says. "I went to a school that had a strong Latino environment in Southern San Diego—about six miles from the border, so I grew up in the culture."

This weekend, Charisma says she’s attending a Latino film festival in support of the new film, Without Men, which stars Latinas Eva Longoria, Judy Reyes, and Kate Del Castillo. "I’m going to support Eva!" she says enthusiastically.

When former Dexter star Julie Benz ties the knot with her fiancÚ Rich Orosco, the actress will have a former costar by her side: Charisma Carpenter!

Carpenter, who’s half-Spanish, met Benz in 1996 when they were costars on the Joss Whedon series, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The two also worked together for several years on the Buffy spinoff, Angel. "Julie and I are still very close and she’s getting married!" Charisma gushed to Latina.com. When we asked Charisma if she will be a bridesmaid at Benz’s wedding, the 40-year-old actress gushed: "I was asked to be a bridesmaid indeed, and of course I will be there for her on her big day!"

And when we double checked with Charisma to confirm that Benz’s fiancÚ, Rich Orosco—a marketing executive—is Latino, the actress responded proudly, "He IS! Latino love!"

Last month, when Orosco proposed to Benz and she said yes, he arranged for nearly 60 of their closest friends and family to gather at their home, along with a Mariachi band for a "pop-up Mexican fiesta" to celebrate their engagement.

Asked if she thinks they make a cute couple, Charisma said, "adorable," and added, "and they will make beautiful babies!"