“Buffy The Vampire Slayer Star Emma Caulfield Reveals Secret Multiple Sclerosis Battle After Over A Decade
In an interview with Vanity Fair published Tuesday, the actress known best for her role as vengeance demon-turned-clueless human Anya in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, made a shocking confession. She has been quietly battling multiple sclerosis for 12 years.
The star explained “once upon a time, I had zero health problems,” revealing neurologists initially believed her condition, which she described as feeling like “there were a million ants crawling” on the left side of her face, to be Bell’s palsy. However, it was recommended she get an MRI, which she did, before going on with her life while awaiting the results. She recalled shooting a scene for a project all those years ago when she got the call from her doctor, who told her:
“You have MS.”
“Just like that. It was like an out-of-body experience. I’m like, ‘No, that’s not possible.’ I’m like, ‘What are you talking about?’ He was very matter of fact about it.”
She also revealed her father struggled with the condition as well, which likely played a role in her own diagnosis — paired with the fact she suffered from a near-fatal run-in with viral meningitis as a baby, which left lesions on her brain.
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For years, the 49-year-old kept her diagnosis hidden from everyone — even from her own sister! Her parents, husband Mark Ford, and a handful of friends were the only ones she told. Other than that, her lips were sealed, especially when it came to work. She explained:
“I didn’t want to give anyone the opportunity to not hire me. There are already plenty of reasons to not hire people, reasons most actors don’t even know. ‘You look like my ex-girlfriend.’ Who knows? ‘You’re too short. You’re too tall. You look mean. You look too nice. You don’t have the right color eyes.’ I knew in my bones that if you talk about this, you’re just going to stop working. That’s it.”
However, after fellow actress Selma Blair went public with her own MS diagnosis in 2018, Emma — who recently had a small but memorable role in WandaVision — remembers feeling inspired, noting:
“I’m so tired of not being honest. And beyond that, my daughter has changed my perspective, as I think anybody who is a parent can attest. I know that she has a 30% greater chance of coming down with this, just luck of the draw for her.”
“I’m not actually doing everything I can for her because I have my mouth shut. If I have a platform at all, I should be using it. Even if it affects my ability to get work… It’s better for me to at least be vocal about this and be out there to try to help the MS Foundation and other groups who are doing research.”
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As for her current health state, she explained:
“I’m okay right now. It’s a weird thing to say when you’re given a diagnosis like that, but truthfully, my attitude is not crumbling under the fear of ‘what if’ or ‘what can,’ or ‘what has’ for other people. I just have to keep going.”
“If me talking about this offers some solace or encouragement to somebody who has it, that’s so great…. I don’t own this condition. My experience is simply my own. I could never tell anybody else what to do if they have MS. I’m not an expert, I’m not a doctor. I am just me. This is how it feels for me.”
We’re so happy Emma is speaking her truth, and we wish her all the health in the world. You can look forward to seeing her next reprising her role of Dottie in the WandaVision spinoff, Agatha: Coven of Chaos, streaming on Disney+ next year.
[Images via Emma Caulfield/Instagram & 20th Television/YouTube]
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