EXCLUSIVE: Charisma Carpenter: "You Need To Get It Out That I'm A Proud Latina!"

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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!"

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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."

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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.  

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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.

To follow this proud Latina on Twitter, click here!


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