Charisma Carpenter has found her place in pop culture with her roles on Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Angel and Supernatural. Now she's reaching audiences in a new way, as the host of the Investigation Discovery series Surviving Evil, which details the stories of people who have endured horrible things - including Charisma herself. She sat down with BFTV last week to discuss her aims with the series and what it was like to put her own story on the air.
"I think what is impressive about every episode is that the people survive the things that you'll see in the next few episodes," she told us. "I did ten episodes, and it stuns me every time. I feel like my story was heavy, but it gets darker. There are a lot of bad things that have happened to a lot of good people."
"The resilence, it's inspiring to know there are people who have suffered so much and gone on to give back to their community," she continued, specifically pointing to tonight's installment, the story of a woman who went on after her ordeal to become a police officer with her local special victims unit. "Every episode, my jaw is on the floor, and I'm so inspired by the women."
You can watch an extended sneak peek of Surviving Evil with this article.
The project is personal for Charisma, who had been developing the show before it landed at Investigation Discovery and also allowed her own story of survival to be used for the series' first episode. How does the finished product compare to what she envisioned?
"It turned out better actually," she said. "I was involved in the very early stages of developing the project. My initial idea of getting to interview the victims myself was kind of dashed initially, and I didn't know how I felt about that. But I feel the project was ten times better the way it has been done. I feel it's more compelling and raw to see people sit down and tell their own stories in their own words."
It takes a lot of courage to share something traumatic with a national audience, so we asked Charisma what made her willing to revisit what happened to her in the summer of 1991. "Ultimately, it comes from wanting to give back and maybe having some distance from the actual event," she explained. "That made it possible."
You can preview the premiere episode of the series by clicking here.
Surviving Evil is not your ordinary TV show; its primary purpose isn't necessarily to entertain. There are other, more important things that Charisma hopes we take away from learning about these difficult but inspiring stories.
"Compassion would be one of the main things," she said. "People walk around with a lot of pain in their lives, and we don't know. You don't ever hear about it. I don't walk around talking about what happened to me ever. But when we realize how common it is, it's easier to be kinder."
"[Another one] would also be to educate," she added. "Look for red flags. Try not to become a victim. You can go to Investigation.Discovery.com and look for a quiz on your skills, and what you know, and how do you handle a situation."
One of her significant goals is to provide a sense of community and hope for those who have survived evil. "The message mainly for me is you're not alone," Charisma told us. "I was a victim of violence - and you can go on to have a good life."
Surviving Evil airs Wednesdays on Investigation Discovery (check your local listings for specific channel and time). You can also keep up with Charisma Carpenter by following her on Twitter (@charisma).