Anne Steele (born Joan Appleby and formerly known as Sister Sunshine, Chantarelle, and Lily Houston) was a social worker and the director of the East Hills Teen Center in Los Angeles. Herself a former runaway teenager, her life was saved on two occasions by Buffy Summers, the Slayer, and she was also later aided by Angel and Charles Gunn. Despite facing many hardships growing up, Anne maintained an optimistic outlook on life.
At an early age, she ran away from home and rejected her birth name, Joan Appleby, taking on instead a string of aliases.
As a teenager, Joan became involved in a sect or cult led by a "loser preacher" who dubbed her "Sister Sunshine". Afterward, she reinvented herself as "Chantarelle" and became a regular at the Sunset Club, a Gothic nightclub in which vampire posers and vampire worshipers gathered. Like others, Chantarelle romanticized vampires, calling them "the Lonely Ones", and became part of a Sunnydale subculture that adored and emulated them. However, she had never seen a real vampire before, until she nearly died at the hands of Spike and Drusilla. Chantarelle survived the ordeal only thanks to the intervention of Buffy Summers.
- "Lily's from a song. Rickie picked it. I'm always changing anyway. Chantarelle was part of my exotic phase."
- ―Lily reflects on her ever-changing identities.[src]
Chantarelle later moved to Los Angeles and became a homeless drifter. She took on the name "Lily Houston", given to her by Rickie Thomas, a fellow young runaway, with whom she started a relationship. The two got matching tattoos of one half of a heart and the name of the other and managed to obtain a little money by donating their blood at a local blood bank. It was during this period that she encountered Buffy Summers for the second time, as Buffy was temporarily working as a waitress in Los Angeles, and was herself also going by an alias: "Anne" (Buffy's middle name). However, it was also during this period that her boyfriend Ricky died after being abducted by the demon Ken, who posed as the director of the "Family Home", a shelter for runaway teenagers. Ken also abducted Anne later. However, Anne was freed with help from Buffy. Anne herself helped in the defeat of Ken, pushing him from a high platform and Buffy finished him off by smashing his head. Buffy's heroism so inspired Anne that she decided to adopt Buffy's middle name as her own. Buffy also helped to set Anne up with an apartment and a job.
- "Hey, can I be Anne?"
- ―Anne takes on Buffy's name.[src]
East Hills Teen Center
- Gunn: "What if I told you it doesn't help? What would you do if you found out that none of it matters? That it's all controlled by forces more powerful and uncaring than we can conceive, and they will never let it get better down here. What would you do?"
- Anne: "I'd get this truck packed before the new stuff gets here."
- — Gunn and Anne[src]
Sometime later, no doubt inspired by her desire to help the kind of runaways that she herself had once been, and that had been so susceptible to predatory demons such as Ken, Anne founded the East Hills Teen Center, where she helped to provide shelter and support for homeless or wayward teenagers in Los Angeles. It was during this period that she became friends with Charles Gunn, a fellow homeless teenager who also sought to protect the helpless, though he did so by hunting vampires. She also had her tattoo removed.
With the East Hills Teen Center in financial trouble, Anne accepted the help of Wolfram & Hart, who represented the Center pro bono. This attracted the attention of Angel, whom she had briefly met during her Chantarelle days. Angel used her as part of his efforts to harass Wolfram & Hart's Lindsey McDonald and Lilah Morgan, who organized a charity ball while planning to steal most of the funds for the firm. However, Angel, with the aid of the demon Boone, stole all the money, which he later gave to Anne. Even though she knew part of the money came from Wolfram & Hart's corrupt clients and that it was stained by Angel's and Boone's blood, she took the money to ensure the existence of the Center.
Weeks later, she became involved with Angel Investigations, when her center came under attack from zombie police officers. Anne was still successfully running the East Hills Teen Center at least as late as 2004, when she once again encountered Charles Gunn, who sought to spend a day "as if it was the last" before confronting the Circle of the Black Thorn. As he helped her carry boxes and furniture, the two discussed about continuing their struggle despite knowing they could never win against those in power.
Behind the Scenes
- She was portrayed by Julia Lee.
- Many fans found it strange that, in the episode "Blood Money", neither Angel nor Anne recognized one another, despite having met briefly before in the episode "Lie to Me". In an interview in Angel: The Casefiles, Volume One, writer Mere Smith explains: "... it was three years ago, they said two sentences to each other, he’s totally not gonna recognize her... Joss was like, ‘Do you remember everybody you met three years ago, and shared three sentences with?’ And I was like, ‘Oh, fine, use logic.’" Of course, having photographic memory, Angel indeed would remember everyone he'd ever met.
- It can also be noted that when she appeared on Angel, she doesn't have the tattoo she had in the episode "Anne" and doesn't have scar indicating it's removal. There is no explaination behind this though.
- Ironically, not only did Anne take her name from Buffy, but also in the episode "Tabula Rasa", Buffy briefly and unwittingly took Anne’s original name: Joan.
- When Angel looked at Anne's driver's license in the episode "Blood Money", her address is listed as "Willoughby Ave." Anne Steele and John Willoughby are characters in the novel Sense and Sensibility, by Jane Austen.
- Anne has been referred to by five different names over the course of both series. She was born Joan Appleby, and later used the aliases Chantarelle, "Sister Sunshine", and Lily Houston, before permanently taking the name Anne Steele.