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Michelle Trachtenberg as Dawn

Dawn Summers isn't really anyone's love child. Sometimes siblings just appear out of nowhere and come pre-packaged with bogus memories. When the youngest Summers arrived in Sunnydale, she was your typical female teen-an obnoxious little monster who spent more time getting under Buffy's skin then actually helping out at all.

As Dawn matured in Sunnydale and was assimilated into Buffy's family, it was a formidable time. Actually, it was literally a formidable time because before she showed up, she didn't have any form at all. You see, Dawn is The Key, which is an epically powerful energy force that a Hellgod named Glory wants to exploit to open up a portal that will release hell on Earth. Fortunately, a group of monks transformed The Key to the flesh and then added her to Sunnydale's memories and past. The monks' plan was to have the Slayer protect The Key from evil.

It wasn't for several months until Buffy and the Scooby Gang found out Dawn's true identity. While fighting to save the life of one of the aforementioned monks, Buffy was told the truth and then passed on the information to her mother Joyce, who was unfortunately struggling with a brain tumor that she didn't end up beating. Like any average bratty teen, Dawn didn't much like finding out that she was a cosmic force in the universe. As a matter of fact, she ran away from home. With little family left to speak of, Buffy decided to treat Dawn and the memories that came with her as authentic.

Sadly, last spring, Glory kidnapped Dawn after learning that she was The Key. During a bloodletting ceremony that almost brought complete anarchy to Sunnydale and earth, Buffy gave her life to save her sister, The Key. As it read on Buffy Summers' gravestone: "Beloved Sister. Devoted Friend."

Michelle Trachtenberg is anything but an ordinary 16-year-old. Currently, the actress plays the mystery-laden character of Buffy's little sister Dawn Summers on BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER. She is perhaps best known for her starring role in "Harriet the Spy," opposite Rosie O'Donnell, for which she won the "Best Lead Actress in a Feature Film" award from "Young Artists of Hollywood."
A native New Yorker, Trachtenberg began her acting career at the age of four when she appeared in her first television commercial. Since then, she has appeared in over 100 national spots and in starring roles both in film and on television.

In 1999, Trachtenberg starred opposite Matthew Broderick in the live-action feature film "Inspector Gadget." Her other feature credits include roles in the independent films "Can't Be Heaven," "The Cage" and "Melissa."

Daytime television fans will remember Trachtenberg from her role as the autistic Lily Montgomery on "All My Children," at which time the drama also starred Sarah Michelle Gellar. She was also a series regular on the Nickelodeon series "The Adventures of Pete & Pete." Trachtenberg's other television credits include guest starring roles on "Meego," "Guys Like Us," "Figure It Out," "Dave's World," "Law & Order," "Saturday Night Live," "Clarissa Explains It All" and "Space Cases," as well as the television movies "A Father's Choice" opposite Peter Strauss and Mary McDonnell, and "Christmas in Our Home Town" with Melissa Gilbert.

For the past five years, Trachtenberg has been an active spokesperson for R.A.D.D., DARE America, The Starlight Foundation and many others. Her contributions to the fight against drugs earned her the prestigious responsibility of representing the youth of America at CNN's headquarters in Atlanta, where she helped President Clinton launch "The Coalition for a Drug Free America" campaign.

In her spare time, Trachtenberg enjoys swimming, rollerblading, ice skating, bicycling and writing short stories.

So tell us about this Dawn character. That whole channeling evil voices thing must suck when she's at the mall.
Unfortunately, I can't tell you very much. [''Buffy'' creator] Joss Whedon has me under lock and key. But I play an average 14 year old girl. I have my worries, I have my diary, I write all my thoughts in there. I have a relationship with Buffy that's kind of sisterly. I have a little crush on Xander, I think Willow's cool, and that's pretty much all the information I can reveal. It's not much, I know. I'm an interviewer's dream, aren't I?
Were you a ''Slayer'' fan before you got the job?
I'm a HUGE fan. I'm a walking encyclopedia of ''Buffy.'' I watched the show from day 1 because I worked with Sarah on ''All My Children'' [Trachtenberg played Lily Benton Montgomery from 1994 to '96, Gellar played mini vixen Kendall Hart from 93 to 95.] I was always thinking of little story lines for myself so I could guest star, like I could avenge Jenny Callendar's [Robia La Morte] death by being her niece or I could be Giles' [Anthony Stewart Head] long lost daughter. I would think of crazy things.
Some fans are worried that adding a character your age is a sign that ''Buffy'' is losing its edge. How do you respond to that?
We're definitely not going for the ''cute kid'' thing. Let me just say that over the years ''Buffy'' has found its audience, and we don't plan to stray from that audience now, period. And new characters always bring more flavor to a show. Tara [Willow's love interest, played by Amber Benson] was introduced last year, for example. But trust me, you won't be seeing any cute kid stuff.
Doug Petrie, who's an executive story editor on ''Buffy,'' also co-wrote ''Harriet the Spy.'' Did he put in a good word for you?
I didn't even know Doug was working on ''Buffy'' until I went to visit Sarah on the set a couple of weeks before I got the job. I was there, and she said, ''I have a surprise for you. Here's Doug!'' But I found out about the job from my managers and agents, and had a meeting with Joss before I got hired. Sarah was really supportive, though, which was a comforting feeling.
As the only real teenager on a show about teenagers, do you get a little more input than your cast mates?
I am the only person under the age of 20 on the set, that's true. Joss always says, ''If we write something for you and you're not comfortable saying a certain thing, great, just say so.'' And we'll talk about certain things and lines from those conversations will pop up in the script later. We all love ''Harry Potter'' on the set, for example. Sarah and Joss introduced me to it. So there was a line about ''Harry Potter'' a little while ago.
Is it tough being the only person on the set who still has to deal with midterms and homework?
Not at all. Everyone on the set, especially Sarah, is really fabulous about getting me my time in school and saying, ''Okay, what are you learning now? You have a geometry test to take? Then go, go!'' They won't let me talk to them if there is a possible opportunity for me to run to school between takes. So they're very supportive.
Working on this show, you must have the inside track on Halloween costumes. Any ideas?
I visited the costume department and they've been giving me some suggestions. I've always wanted to be a Victorian lady. The big Halloween episode when Buffy turned Victorian -- I LOVED that dress. So maybe I can borrow that. We'll see.


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