Caulfield's stage name is a reference to Holden Caulfield, the protagonist of J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye. She 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. She won 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 she left halfway through her freshman year.
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.
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. It screened at various festivals, although it has not been picked up for distribution.
Caulfield is also the co-author of the webcomic Contropussy. She 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.
Caulfield ran her own Youtube Channel called Essnemma, where she posted regular vlogs and answered questions posted on her Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr. The channel ran in 2012–2013.
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. She guest starred in the second season of the Jane Espenson scripted romantic comedy web series Husbands. Recently, she had portrayed the governmental agent Cameron Chase in the DC Universe TV show Supergirl.
In 2021, Caulfield portrayed Sarah Proctor/Dottie Jones in the Marvel Cinematic Universe Disney+ original miniseries, WandaVision.
Caulfield appeared in a total of 81 episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, as the ex-vengeance demon Anya Jenkins:
- "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 (Credited but does not appear in "Help," "Conversations with Dead People," and "Dirty Girls")
Caulfield also appears in the following featurettes:
Behind the scenes for Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
- Emma Caulfield on Wikipedia