Born in Washington, DC, her first film role was in My Stepmother is an Alien (1988). Before that she had done a little television work, mostly commercials, and she went on to do a good deal more including Almost Home, Picket Fences, Roseanne and Touched by an Angel before being chosen for Buffy in 1997. By the final season she was earning $250,000 an episode.
It was announced in October 2003 that she had signed a deal with NBC to appear in a comedy, due to commence in the Fall season of 2004.
She owns a home in Sacramento, California and married actor Alexis Denisof on October 11, 2003. Previous relationships include actor Steven Sutphen and Marilyn Manson drummer Ginger Fish.