While her roots in Italian horror (Two Evil Eyes) and penchant for small-screen fantasy (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, and Taken) may not make actress Julie Benz the most likely candidate for mainstream stardom, the prolific ice skater-turned-onscreen talent has come quite a long way since her early days in community theater and has since become one of the most promising emerging talents in film and television. A native of Pittsburgh and professional ice skater from the age of three, Benz made a name for herself in both singles and ice dancing and was at one point ranked 13th in the United States for her remarkable grace. While professional skating afforded Benz the extraordinary opportunity to travel the U.S. and visit foreign lands, the training needed to maintain one's footing on the ice is rigorous to say the least, and she ceased competitive skating at the age of 16. The daughter of a vascular surgeon, Benz hailed from a long line of doctors and was determined to become the first female medico in her family. Of course, some folks just aren't cut out for a career in medicine, though, and shortly after witnessing her first surgery, Benz realized that she was a bit too squeamish to become a doctor. With her days as a professional skater over and a life behind the scalpel out of the question, the talented teen auditioned for a role in a local community theater production and later connected with New York-based agent Vincent Cirrincione during a local acting seminar. After honing her craft in New York City, Benz set her sights on Los Angeles and never looked back.
In 1990, Benz made her screen debut under the direction of legendary Italian horror specialist Dario Argento in the "Black Cat" segment of Two Evil Eyes, though it was walk-on roles in such popular television shows as Married With Children, Boy Meets World, and Diagnosis Murder that served to introduce her to stateside viewers. Of course, big-screen appearances in As Good As It Gets and Jawbreaker only helped to increase her profile, but to many fantasy fans, Benz will always be known for her role as malevolent vampire Darla on the hit shows Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel.