She was born Emma Chukker in April 8, 1973 in San Diego, California. Her stage name is a reference to Holden Caulfield, the protagonist of J. D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye.Her mother worked as a professional singer. Emma began her acting career at a young age. In high school while she studied drama, she took parts in plays at the local La Jolla Playhouse and the Old Globe Theatre. She additionally traveled to The American School In England (TASIS) in London, England, to study drama the summer before her senior year. Her talent for acting was recognized by her fellow thespians, who awarded her the distinguished Excellence in Theatre Arts award at her high school.
After graduating from the La Jolla Country Day School, she attended San Francisco State University to study psychology, but left halfway through her freshman year. Her passion for acting continued to drive her, moving her to Los Angeles at 19.
Caulfield's first notable role was as Brandon Walsh's girlfriend, Susan Keats, on Beverly Hills, 90210 in 1995. She appeared for thirty episodes in the series before departing in 1996. In 1998, Emma starred in her most famous role to date, as Anya Jenkins on the WB's hit show Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Originally, her character was only to appear for several episodes. However, audiences responded well to Anya, resulting in Buffy the Vampire Slayer creator Joss Whedon's decision to add her to the cast.
In 2003, Emma landed her first lead role in the horror movie Darkness Falls, which debuted at number one in the U.S. box office. In 2004, she appeared on Monk as Meredith Preminger in the episode "Mr. Monk and the Girl Who Cried Wolf". Caulfield also starred in the satire Bandwagon, playing a fictionalized and unflattering version of herself as a superficial, arrogant actress whose career is imploding. The movie was written and directed by close friend and fellow actress Karri Bowman. It screened at various festivals, although it has not been picked up for distribution. Several members of Buffy the Vampire Slayer cast and crew have cameos in the film. She passed up the opportunity to audition for the roles of Six and Starbuck on Battlestar Galactica, a decision she later regretted.
Caulfield is also the co-author of the webcomic Contropussy. Caulfield starred in the independent feature film TiMER, released May 2009.
In 2010, Caulfield posted her 2004 independent movie Bandwagon, which was never publicly released, online in ten parts turning it into a webseries.
She starred as the lead role in the FunnyOrDie short film, Don't Panic, It's Organic. In 2011, a season 2 of Bandwagon began.
In 2012, Caulfield received critical acclaim for her guest appearance on the ABC fantasy series Once Upon a Time, as the Blind Witch from the fairy tale Hansel & Gretel. The show includes many other guests like Eion Bailey (Kyle DuFours), James Marsters (Spike), Christopher Gorham (James Stanley), Harry Groener (Richard Wilkins), Lee Arenberg (Tiernan), Henri Lubatti (Head vampire), Tony Amendola (Thesulac Demon), Abraham Benrubi (Olaf), Eric Lange (a Lubber Demon), Lily Knight (Gronx), Amy Acker (Winifred Burkle/Illyria), Daniel Dae Kim (Gavin Park), Sunny Mabrey (Allison), Sam Witver (John Stoler) and Patrick Fischler (Ted).
She guest starred in the second season of the Jane Espenson scripted romantic comedy web series, Husbands. The show includes also Joss Whedon, Seth Green (Daniel Osbourne), Beth Grant (Maud Pearson), Amber Benson (Tara Maclay), Amy Acker (Winifred Burkle/Illyria), Felicia Day (Violet) and Nathan Fillion (Caleb)
Recently, she had portrayed the governmental agent Cameron Chase in the DC Universe tv-show "Supergirl". This show includes other guest-stars from Buffyverse like Ray Campbell (Desmond), Troy Brenna (Nezzla Demon/Avilas), Glenn Morshower (Phillip Newton) and Nick Jaine (Sahrvin Clan leader). Others shows in the same universe includes Justin Doran (Hogan Martin), Doug Jones (one of The Gentlemen), Erica Luttrell (Karen), J. August Richards (Charles Gunn), Summer Glau (Prima Ballerina) Rick Gonzalez (Tomas) and Megalyn Echikunwoke (Vaughne) in "Arrow" ; Wentworth Miller (Gage Petronzi), Doug Jones (one of The Gentlemen), Tony Todd (Vyasa) and Danielle Nicolet (Tamika) in "The Flash" ; Paul Reubens (Amilyn), Todd Stashwick (Vocah/M'Fashnik Demon) and Caroline Lagerfelt (Anne Pratt) in "Gotham" ; Charisma Carpenter (Cordelia Chase), Ryan Bittle (Mitch Fargo), Greg Vaughan (Richard Anderson), Bailey Chase (Graham Miller), Kevin Rankin (Donald Maclay), Evan Arnold (Unidentified vampire (The Trial)), Aimee Garcia (Cynthia York) and D.B. Woodside (Robin Wood) in "Lucifer".
- "The Wish"
- "The Prom"
- "Graduation Day, Part One"
- "The Harsh Light of Day"
- "Fear, Itself"
- "Something Blue"
- "A New Man"
- "The I in Team"
- "Goodbye Iowa"
- "Who Are You?"
- "Where the Wild Things Are"
- "New Moon Rising"
- "The Yoko Factor"
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 5
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 6
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 7 (credit only in "Help", "Conversations with Dead People", "Dirty Girls")
On August 23, 2006, Caulfield married Cornelius Grobbelaar. She filed for divorce from Grobbelaar on May 13, 2010 citing irreconcilable differences.
Caulfield ran her own Youtube Channel called Essnemma where she posts regular vlogs and answers questions posted on her Facebook, Twitter and Tumbler. The channel ran from 2012-2013.
In March 2016, Caulfield confirmed she was expecting her first child, with her partner Mark Ford, which was later confirmed to be a girl. The couple had married in in 2015 and Emma took her husband's surname of "Ford" to add to her stage name.