Born in and raised in Las Vegas, Charisma Carpenter lived there until the age of fifteen, when her family moved to Mexico and later to San Diego. In San Diego, she attended the School of Creative and Performing Arts and was a cheerleader for the San Diego Chargers.
In 1992, Carpenter moved to Los Angeles. After being discovered by a commercial agent, and appearing in more than 20 commercials, her career in front of the camera began. After just two years in LA, Carpenter made her television debut in an episode of Baywatch, which caught the attention of Malibu Shores creator Aaron Spelling.
Carpenter was cast as series regular, Ashley Green, in Malibu Shores. Though, the series ran for only one season, Carpenter caught the attention of both viewers and series creators. Subsequently, she was cast in a number of series through the late 90s and into the mid 2000s including, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel and Veronica Mars.
It is through Carpenter’s portrayal of the character, Cordelia Chase, for seven years on the WB's hit shows Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, which she is most famously recognized. Carpenter originated the role of Cordelia Chase in Joss Whedon's popular show Buffy the Vampire Slayer and when the spin-off Angel occurred in 1999, Carpenter’s character moved to the new show.
In addition to Carpenter’s vast television series work, she has also starred in a number of television movies for ABC Family, Lifetime and Syfy.
Most recently Carpenter can be seen starring in feature film, The Expendables, directed by Sylvester Stallone and its sequel The Expendables 2. She starred in television films: House of Bones on Syfy, and Obsession on Lifetime. She currently stars as Rebecca in ABC Family’s The Lying Game.