Fandom favorite Amber Benson answers that never-ending question for Hypable – under what circumstances would she consider a return to Buffy?
Amber Benson became a fandom darling for her role of Tara in Joss Whedon’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but she has a lot more up her sleeve these days. In addition to acting, she is also a director, producer, novelist and playwright.
Hypable sat down with Benson during San Diego Comic-Con to hear about her upcoming book series, her role on Rachel Caine’s Morganville Vampires web series adaptation, and of course – Buffy.
A return to ‘Buffy’?
There is no doubt that to many fans, Amber Benson will always be Buffy’s Tara Maclay.
Tara quickly became a fan favorite character, but it was the portrayal of the relationship between Tara and Willow (played by Alyson Hannigan) that has been the lasting legacy of Buffy.
Benson is well aware that the frank and open portrayal of the lesbian couple was an inspiration to both future filmmakers, and to many teenagers worldwide.
Hypable: Let’s get the inevitable question out of the way. Obviously returning to ‘Buffy’ as Tara presents certain problems. But if Joss decided to return to the show, would you consider going back?
Amber Benson: Definitely, if it could be done the right way. I know that they have been hinting at her in the comics, and I think that has been really lovely actually.
I just think bringing her back and making her a bad guy was not quite right for me, but I know there’s a way to do it that would be beneficial to the fans. Yeah, definitely. I would love to do anything.
Is there a particular way that you would like to see Tara come back?
I don’t know. I would have to leave that up to Joss. He’s a maestro, he knows what he’s doing. I’ll let him figure all that out, I’ll show up.
From your role in ‘Buffy’, you became a role model for many young people exploring their sexuality. How does it feel to be seen that way?
I’m honoured that I get to help in the battle to bring things to an equal position. We live in 2013, and in a Western society. We need equality for everybody. If one group of people can’t be treated equally, then no one is being treated equally in my mind.
I very much feel like Alyson and I really got to knock on the glass ceiling, and say “Screw you glass ceiling, we are going to knock you down.”
Just in the last 10 years, there has been such a leap forward. And I feel like we were helpful, we weren’t just making television, we were doing social commentary.
‘Buffy’ was really the first. Now we have ‘Glee’, ‘Modern Family’, and ‘Husbands’, but it started with ‘Buffy’.
It opened the door. It brought it into the mainstream and said it’s okay to be who you are. It doesn’t matter who you fall in love with. If you find someone to fall in love with, you are just lucky.
The pressures of being a role model
And you’re very prominent in the sci-fi/fantasy/comic world, you must be a role model to so many young women who want to break into the industry.
I just do stuff that moves me. I feel like that is how this world has to work. You have to do the things that you’re passionate about. Yes, there’s always that balance between art and commerce, and how do I pay my bills. Which is why I do lots of things, I diversify so that I can pay my bills.
If I was just an actor, I would be going around with a hat. So I do a lot of different things to pay my bills, but I do what moves me, and it doesn’t matter that I have a vagina. I’m just me, and anybody else can do what they want.
I grew up in Alabama, I never in a million years thought I was going to come to Los Angeles and be so lucky that I was able to do what I love. So if I can do it, anybody can do it.
I didn’t know anybody. I was just lucky, and I persevered. If you can do that, and put yourself out there, you can achieve anything.
You say it in a way that makes it sound so obvious.
[Laughs] It’s not obvious, and that’s why I keep saying it. You just have to go and do it.
And especially in this community, it is important for women to see that you can succeed in the way that you have.
You have to help other women. It’s changing, and I have so many female friends in the industry now and we are helping each other. It’s changing. I paid my dues for 20-something years as an actor, and I took it and I applied it.
I feel like for me, I am a maker of things. I just want to make stuff. It’s not about being famous, it’s not about making money, it’s about doing things you are passionate about and pleasing yourself.