Benson was born in Birmingham, Alabama to psychiatrist, Edward and Diane Benson. She has a younger sister, Danielle who is an artist. As a child Benson studied music and dance, performing in the Birmingham Children's Ballet as well as in local theater. She attended high school in Orlando, Florida but moved to Los Angeles later with her family.
Her first film role was in Steven Soderbergh's King of the Hill at the age of 14.
Benson was cast as shy wiccan Tara Maclay in Buffy the Vampire Slayer in 2000, becoming a popular and important character to the series due to the lesbian relationship she shared with Willow Rosenberg. She left the show in 2002 after appearing regularly for three seasons. She provided singing vocals on the musical episode "Once More, with Feeling".
Whilst appearing on Buffy, Benson co-wrote the movie The Theory of the Leisure Class which was released in 2001. She also wrote, produced, directed and starred in digital video Chance which also starred her Buffy co-star, James Marsters. In 2002, she sang on two tracks on Buffy co-star Anthony Stewart Head's solo music project "Music for Elevators".
In 2006, Benson released her second feature-film Lovers, Liars & Lunatics through her own production company, Benson Entertainment. It was shot on film and was mostly budgeted by the sale of limited edition Buffyverse "Tara" action figures. In the same year, she appeared as "vegetarian" vampire Lenore in Supernatural.
In December 2006, Benson and Christopher Golden released the short novel The Seven Whistlers, distributed through Subterranean Press in a limited number of signed copies. In September 2007, Benson signed a three-book deal with Ginjer Buchanan of Penguin Books. Death's Daughter was released by Ace Books on February 2009; Cat's Claw on February 2010; and Serpent's Storm in February 2011. On February 2012, the fourth book in the series was released, How to Be Death.
Benson co-directed 2010 comedy Drones with Buffy co-star Adam Busch.
In 2012, Benson played a young Judith Collins in the Dark Shadows audio drama "Dress Me in Dark Dreams". She guest starred in the second season of the Jane Espenson scripted romantic comedy web series Husbands. In June 2013, it was announced that Benson has been attached to star in the web TV series adaptation of The Morganville Vampires as Amelie, the founder of Morganville. Benson has narrated the audiobook Lock In by John Scalzi. In October 2014, she published her fantasy book The Witches of Echo Park.
Benson and Buffy co-star Adam Busch dated from March 2009. The couple are no longer together but remain close friends. Benson now lives in Los Angeles, California.
According to Buffy producer Marti Noxon, Joss Whedon was initially reluctant to cast Benson in the role of Tara due to her not being the right physical type. Noxon convinced him to let her read again where he realized she would be perfect for the role.
Benson appeared in 47 episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, in the role of Tara Maclay. Additionally, she portrayed her character in season 6 promos, dubbing Tara and her vampire counterpart in the Chaos Bleeds video game.
- "A New Man"
- "The I in Team"
- "Goodbye Iowa"
- "This Year's Girl"
- "Who Are You?"
- "Where the Wild Things Are"
- "New Moon Rising"
- "The Yoko Factor"
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer season 5 (Absent in "The Replacement", "No Place Like Home", "Into the Woods")
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer season 6 (Absent in "Gone", "Doublemeat Palace", "As You Were", "Two to Go", "Grave")
- "The Innocent"
- Willow & Tara: WannaBlessedBe (with Christopher Golden)
- Wilderness, Part One (with Golden)
- Wilderness, Part Two (with Golden)
- Amber Benson on Wikipedia