Amber Nicole Benson is an American actress, writer, film director, and film producer. She is best known for her role as Tara Maclay on the TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but has also directed, produced and starred in her own films Chance and Lovers, Liars & Lunatics. She also co-directed the film Drones with fellow Buffy cast member Adam Busch.
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Let's see... my name is Amber Benson, haha! And I am a maker of things. Which means that I'm always tap-dancing to make my rent. I was an actor in my previous life, but now I direct and write films, and write novels. I would love to chat with you about anything your heart desires, but i especially want to talk about my new book, called The Witches of Echo Park.
Victoria's helping me get started. AMA!
UPDATE: Okay, I am done. This was mucho fun - thank you guys so much for coming and hanging out with me for the last few hours. I hope I answered honestly and with a dash of weirdo humor. Thanks to Victoria - who is a ROCKSTAR - for helping me out. You can check out THE WITCHES OF ECHO PARK here:
Also the oddball winner is: FRAAC: How weird is it to be a grownup?
If this is you, tweet me on twitter and lets do this wingman thang!
What does Alyson Hannigan smell like?
Honeysuckle and happiness.
Hi Amber, I totally doubt you'll remember this but this is probably my one and only chance to right an old wrong that still makes me cringe to this day. I was studying art in Rome with a bunch of students (one of them was your sister) back in 2000. I believe you and your mom came to visit your sister and hung out with all of us. During some small talk chit-chat the following cringe-worthy conversation took place and I'm really sorry.
Amber: "So where are you from?"
downstor: "Oh, I'm from Torrance. It's a tiny city in Los Angeles that you've probably never heard of. I think it's only famous as the place where they filmed 90210 and Buffy the Vampire Slayer or some other lame shows...."
Anyway, you didn't even blink an eye and I had never watched the shows so I totally didn't know you were an actor on Buffy, let alone an actor at all, till later on when your sister told me and I felt like such an asshole.
So this is me, apologizing for "15-years younger me" for any sort of slight or insult you may have taken from my comments. I have since watched the show and they're pretty fun. But I also wanted to tell you how impressed I was after I found out that you were an actress about how cool and approachable you were and how you never once mentioned what you did for living or any name drops. It was very cool to meet a really down-to-earth famous actress (even though or perhaps especially because, I didn't know you were one at the time.)
Best of luck in your new endeavors! Sorry for being an ass.
Hahahahahahahahahahahahaha! Please, no apologies necessary!! I always lie and tell people I'm an Insurance Adjuster. :)
But seriously, you have nothing to apologize for :)
Who were you the closest to in Buffy?
Probably the writers. I spent a lot of time upstairs in the production office harassing them. Writers are the bestest.
Hi, Amber! I am a huge fan of yours and Tara has always been my favourite character from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Thank you for doing this AMA!
What did you enjoy the most or what was most rewarding about playing the character of Tara?
Thank you again!
The most rewarding thing about playing Tara was that the relationship on Buffy between her and Willow helped kick open the door for more amazing LGBTQ characters on TV. We were so blessed to walk in their shoes and play those ladies. It's one of the things I am most proud of in my life.
Not sure I should tag spoilers...but the show has been over for a while now, so: how did you react when you learned of Tara's fate?
Well, Joss took me aside during filming for the Season 5 finale and told me he had 'exciting' news. Which was that Tara was gonna die. I was like: "Oh, wow, that's...uh, great..." Inside I was like: NOOOOOOOOOOOO!
You are absolutely brilliant in all of your projects! In keeping with your request for oddball questions, I would like to know: would you rather live in the Buffy universe or the universe you created in "The Witches of Echo Park"? (Also, what is James Marsters like to work with??)
James is a dollface. Adore that guy. Such a consummate professional. And tres sexy!
I would live in the witches world. It's just magic to me.
What has been your strangest fan encounter?
The young woman who proposed to me, she got down on one knee at San Diego Comic-Con, took out a ring box with a beautiful diamond ring. Asked for my hand in marriage.
Goddamnit, I should've said yes.
Who would make a better dominatrix, Sarah or Eliza?
Oh, man, that's a tough one. LOVE both those ladies and if you have to be tied up, who better? But I'm gonna go with Eliza. She's a tough Boston girl. I bet she could wing it and do a great job with leather and a whip and chains and handcuffs...ok, gonna stop now. This is getting weird.
Hey Amber! Tara was one of my favorites on Buffy- you played her so well. Thanks for doing this!
Which scene was your favorite (or least favorite) to film?
The whole Buffy ep. THE BODY. it was gut wrenching.
Hi Amber! You said you were looking for oddball questions? I’ll give it a whirl and wish you much success on the release of "The Witches of Echo Park".
How old were you when you understood that you share Elvis Presley's birthday and in what way (if any) did that fact influence you then and throughout your life?
And a tangent about guilty pleasures - What is your technique/recipe for greasy fried chicken, daughter of the South? ;-)
Hopefully not so oddball questions...
Bravo to you and Russell Brown for the fantastic rendition of Joni Mitchell's "My Old Man" that you sang for Worldbuilders (Heifer campaign). Would you share what captivated you about the song's lyrics/arrangement the first time you heard it?
What application(s) do you use on your Macbook to write your novels?
I was like 8 when I realized that Elvis, Bowie, and Stephen Hawking were birthday mates. I got a kick ass birthday crew! Not sure how it influenced me, other than I got to brag about them.
I make lame fried chicken. Like the put bread crumbs in a bag and shake and bake - it's slightly embarrassing.
I adore Joni. One of my all time favs. And Russell was the best for doing the song with me. Joni's voice made me realize that my voice was okay. She does the sweeping back and forths between head voice and chest voice that I love.
How do you know I use a macbook ;) I might be a lenovo girl. You don't know. Actually, I am a mac girl. An apple whore really. I use microsoft word.
Would you rather fight one Buffy sized duck or one hundred duck sized Buffys?
One big Buffy duck.
Is there any bad blood between you and Seth Green?
I hate him so much. He is the worst. I hate Seth Green. JUST KIDDING. I love him. He is truly the funniest human being I've ever known, and I mean that from the heart.
How would you survive a zombie apocalypse?
I wanted to thank you for your portrayal of Tara on Buffy the Vampire Slayer - even now with as much representation as there is of LGBT characters on TV the relationship between you and Willow still seems one of the most refreshing and ordinary. As a male who has been struggling with coming out for the past few years it has been fantastic to see such nicely rounded characters who's sole purpose isn't to fill a quota.
How do you feel knowing that you were part of such an important storyline that helped change the face of LGBT representation on TV?
On another note I cannot wait to read your new book :) thank you for your time!
I feel very blessed to have played Tara on Buffy. It wasn't about gratuitous making-out scenes. It was about 2 people who just happened to be of the same gender falling in love. Joss wrote real characters. He wasn't trying to fill quotas. He was trying to create 2 people who just happened to be gay.
Hi Amber would you ever consider a singing career?? Your voice is beautiful
If I wrote my own songs, I would. But I don't play an instrument.
So here are my attempt at some oddball questions:
1)Given that I have only read the first Reaper-Jones novel, who would win in a fight between a giant turtle and Calliope?
2)If you woke tomorrow and found you were now Bruce Willis, what's the first thing you would do?
It's like the Metamorphosis - only without cockroach legs. I'd go get back together with Demi Moore.
When I was homeless on the streets of Hollywood, I used to steal books because one: I had no money to buy them, and two: the only times I felt safe was when I was reading them. I have since tried throughout life to attone for my theivery.
Have you ever stolen anything?
I get too nervous to steal, but I lie sometimes. That's the bad thing I do and feel terribly guilty about. And don't feel bad about the books. Books are magic and you needed them.
How weird is it being a grownup?
Who the heck says I'm a grownup! Who's been spreading lies! I want names, people! Names! J/K - I guess if being a grownup means I'm living on my own and paying taxes then it's kinda okay :)
Hi, Amber! I have a few questions:
I know you wrote a couple of the Buffy comics focusing on Willow and Tara, but I was wondering if there are any plans for you to come back to write some more akin to what Nick Brendon is doing?
If you could work with any one person from Buffy again (and I mean anyone, not just the actors), who would it be?
Also, I met you at DragonCon a couple years ago, any chance you might be coming back in the future?
BONUS QUESTION! Over at /r/Buffy, there's a thread going on discussing everyone's reaction to Dawn being added to the show. What were the opinions of the cast to Buffy getting a sister? Was everyone told why/how she was there, or only certain people knew?
Bonus DragonCon picture: http://i.imgur.com/LYDzS.jpg
I would LOVE to come back for more work on Buffy. I think that's really up to other people, though.
Probably Tim Minear.
YES! I will be teaching an acting workshop at Dragoncon this year.
No one really knew what the deal was, we were just happy to have Michelle. She was a breath of fresh air. She was a fan, she loved the show, and we all adored here, even if we didn't know why she was there.
Have you ever attempted to get revenge on Adam Busch in any way for killing you?
I would go with something along the lines of skin removal.
I dated him. That was revenge enough. Poor guy.
If Tara had live, what would be of her and Willow's life together?
They would open an ice cream shop and live happily ever after. In my heart, that's their future.
I am ecstatic that one of my favorite actresses is also a wonderful writer, and as an aspiring author myself, I must ask: What advice would you have as far as the writing process goes?
Just sit down and put words on the page. Or, more succinctly: Just write. It sounds trite, but the more you force yourself to do this, the better your writing will get.
I'm also in this crew. Happy early birthday!
YAy! Happy almost birthday!!
Do you play video games and if so which are your favourites?
PORTAL and PORTAL 2.
Do you write on envelopes a lot?
HAHA! Yes I do. I make a lot of lists.
Hello, I really enjoyed Lovers, Liars and Lunatics, and own a copy of Drones (it speaks to me, I work in a big poor organization).
Are you planning on making more movies?
YAY!!! So glad you liked them!! DRONES is just...I love that movie.
I am working on a short now called SHEVENGE. There's actually an indiegogo for it and you can see a little of them film: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/shevenge
You have an incredibly beautiful singing voice. Would you please publish a lullaby album? My doc says I need to calm down my blood pressure. I'm certain you would fix it.
I can totally do that for you. Working on it right now. "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" would be the single.
Hi Amber, thanks for doing this Q&A! Here's my question, how would you describe The Witches Of Echo Park in 3 words?
Naughty, Smart, Ladies
It was great to see a shy/socially anxious character on tv with Tara as I could really relate to her as a teenager and she made me feel less alone.
My question is- do you consider yourself shy in real life or are you a very confident person?
I am both. I was super-shy as a kid until I started acting, and then I realized I could wear a mask and be anybody I wanted to be, and when people were judging me, they were judging the character, not me. It frees you up to be extroverted.
Huge fan of Buffy (as I imagine a bunch of people here are).
An oddball question is tough, but I guess I'm gonna go with:
Do you ever wonder what it would've been like if you guys had done one of those "spells gone wrong" things, and you'd been the Slayer for an episode? If so, how would you have gone about that (like your portrayal, what would've happened to the others)?
That would have been AWESOME!!! Tara The Vampire Slayer for one day. I would've been in heaven. She would've been the slayer who apologized all the time: Ee! Sorry I had to stake you! or Excuse me, I just need to get around this tombstone, oh, sorry I stepped on your tail!
How was working on "Supernatural"?
Those guys are the best. I had a blast playing with them and they are damn fine...uh, I mean, very talented.
Hello! oddball me is curious to know: what is your most common typo? Or favorite word to type? Thanks!
fav word to type is: Slattern!
If you were a pizza, what kind of toppings would you have?
Oh, mushrooms & black olives! The Mushrooms & Black Olives special!
Hi Amber welcome to reddit! I recently finished Among the Ghosts & loved it. Was also a big ~~Tara~~ Buffy-TVS fan back in the day.
My question is what is your opinion on Fanfiction? About either your books or any piece of entertainment?
Have you ever read any & If so did you find any you enjoyed?
Hope you enjoy the AMA :D
I think fanfiction is great. It's a great way to make yourself sit down and write! I love peeps who write fanfiction about my stuff - makes me very happy.
I don't read too much fanfic - esp about Buffy. I might blush.
Big BtVS fan here. I often give credit to Buffy as one of the foundations of how strong I am after growing up as a superfan of the show, and I still watch it consistently, at least every episode throughout the year. Thanks for being a part of a really special TV show.
My question is: what is your favorite memory on set?
Thanks for all you do! I got your first book written with Christopher Golden (who I am a huge fan of) and I loved it.
My fav memory is embarrassing myself in the musical by running into a pole during Sarah's song :)
So glad you enjoyed The Ghosts of Albion!! Chris and his family are my east coast family!
Any musical projects on the horizon for you? What was doing the Rocky Horror tribute like for you?
No musical stuff on the horizon. Rocky Horror was awesome. I got to see Anthony wearing his own heels & fishnets doing Frank-n-furter. It was a blast. And I also embarrassed the hell out of myself because I was in my underwear.
Hi! How much influence do you think Buffy's popularity had in entertainment following its conclusion?
I think Buffy never dies. It goes on and on. And new people find it everyday. I don't think we can even begin to quantify the effect it had on popular culture.
I don't really have a question, I just wanted to say thanks for being cool and I'm excited to read the book even though I've just heard about it.
Edit: I was told to edit in a question. How awesome is your day today? I hope it's pretty damn awesome!
Is this where I type the thing? I literally just panic signed up after seeing you were doing this! I don't have time to think of an amazing question, but you rock (duh) and I SCOURED the Internet so I could watch Chance (only to find it easily on YouTube...) and it totally convinced me that someday I could make a good movie, even on a non-existent budget, so thanks for that just as much as Tara!
I suppose I better ask something: what's your favourite of Joss's other projects? And are you addicted to Agents of SHIELD with the rest of us?
P.S. You NEED to come to Dublin! Maybe join Nick Brendon at Dublin Comic Con???
I got food poisoning at Clontarf Castle - that's my only Dublin story.
I really loved Angel. So much talent on that show.
And yay for Chance - so glad you enjoyed it :) And, yes, it should make you totally want to go make your won stuff. You can do it for like no money. go make stuff!!
Will you be doing any book signings for The Witches of Echo Park?
YES. If you go to my tumblr http://thewitchesofechopark.tumblr.com/ it's all there.
what do you find more enjoyable acting or directing?
Directing. You can use all the stuff you know when you direct. Every skill you have in your arsenal is needed. Although, voice acting comes a close second. You can do it in your pjs! Just did a voice )and I sing in it, too) for a pilot for Cartoon Network called Back To Backspace - and that was SO MUCH FUN! It even got nominated for an Annie! So go vote for it!!
Are you a real witch? Because you are magic!
Awww. I'm not a real witch, but i do have a little magic inside of me.
How hard was it to transition from acting to writing? Did your experience acting and working with onset writers inspire your writing career, or have you always enjoyed the art?!
I have always written. Mostly bad gothic poetry and weirdo absurdist plays. But I think everyone you work with inspires you - even the awful people because they inspire you to be successful and then yell back at them: Suck it!
Because I've always written, it wasn't really a transition, more of a slow glide over to writing prose.
Do you work out and exercise? Do you lift? Does pumping iron make you complete? Or what ways do you try to stay healthy and fit?
I walk. There are stairs in my hood and I walk them as much as I can
Did you hate Kennedy?
No. But I knew she had her work cut out for her. It's how it was for me when I took over from Seth.
Were you always into the macabre? I watched your episode of Table top...and....it chilled me.
haha! Yes, I am a card carrying member of the Gore Brigade. (I just made that up.) But honestly, I have always been obsessed by the dark and twisted. I think I worried about what monster was lurking inside me and inside everyone else out there so I needed to be informed.
How did they get the mustard out?
A lot of scrubbing. hehehe
Amber if you could direct and cast a film version of the Witches Of Echo Park which actors would you choose?
Angela Bettis and Aubrey Plaza for starters...
What's harder to write a sex scene or a death scene?
A death scene, for me. I love writing sex scenes. They make me laugh.
my niece wanted to ask you a question but is too busy being a fan girl to think about a question. so I'll ask one instead. you mentioned your book, so what's the book that inspired you to write?
I think it was the little golden book: The Monster At The End Of This Book. I was obsessed as a kid and I am always trying to top the surprise ending.
So... This book of yours... Is it going to be a stand alone novel or part of a larger series? Who is your intended audience?
Gonna be more than one. And the audience is anyone who likes naughty magic sex scenes, well-written characters and magical locales.
I just want to say that 2 of the saddest words I've heard are 'your shirt', were they the hardest lines you've had to deliver as an actress?
They were. after we shot that scene, everybody cried. :(
Amber Who is your favourite character from your new book The Witches Of Echo Park?
What's your favourite tabletop game? I'm looking for some new games to play.
I like scrabble. but I also really enjoyed playing GLOOM on Tabletop
Have you gotten over being denied a supporting actress Academy Award nomination for your work in "Hollywood, PA?"
No. Now I'm sobbing. Hate you. Why'd you bring that up?? I was robbed!!
OH and what's your Starbucks order?
What was your family's reaction to Tara dying?
No one was happy about that. It was a family bummer :(
Follow-up question: Have you considered working with /u/Seraph_Grymm?
Never say never! or was that Goonies never say die?
What question do you want to have somebody ask you the most?
Do you want to see some real magic? Not tricks and illusions, but honest to goodness magic?
I read Witches Of Echo Park, and loved it. I know some reviews are saying it wasn't fast enough or nothing happened or there were "triggers" you had to "watch out for". Bullocks to all I say!
You did a good job making me feel like I was THERE, fleshing out the characters, and leaving me wanting more. Which, imho, is what a book should do.
Bottom line, you can't please everyone, but the ones you do please, really appreciate it. (and you). Rules say I gotta ask a question, so, when is the second coming? (the book- not the jesus)
ha! I like that you had to qualify the second coming - that's so what I would do :) The book is due in March, so it'll prob come out beginning of 2016.
I'm so glad you enjoyed the book. That makes me very happy. I've learned that the only person you can please is yourself. That's it. That's the person you have to make happy and fuck the naysayers.