By Jamie RubySwitched at Birth
, ABC Family's summer series, returns with all new episodes next month. The series follows the lives of two teenage girls, Daphne Vasquez (Katie Leclerc) and Bay Kennish (Vanessa Marano), who discover they were switched at birth.
Katie Leclerc got her first big break on the television series Veronica Mars
. She recently guest starred on The Big Bang Theory
, and has a role in the upcoming film The Ones
Vanessa Marano is probably best known for her role on the television series Gilmore Girls
. Other television roles include Without a Trace
, and Dexter
. Marano will also be appearing in the upcoming film The Secret Lives of Dorks
The two actresses recently talked to the digital media about the series, which returns on January 3rd.
ABC Family's Q&A SessionSwitched at Birth
Katie Leclerc & Vanessa Marano
December 9, 2011QUESTION:
Could you possibly tell us one thing that we probably don't already know about what's in store for your character in the second half of season one?VANESSA MARANO:
All right, I will. What's in store for Bay Kennish in the second half of season one is she kind of is making a decision whether or not to give up street art. There is a situation that she runs into where it almost costs her something pretty major in her life and that makes her start thinking about well, is it really worth the risk of illegal activity? And decides something that—it's an interesting thing for her because it's a big part of her that she has only shared with the two men of her lifetime and it's a big part of her identity that she must be losing.KATIE LECLERC:
For Daphne there's a lot of rebuilding for her and Angelo to do, or building to start. It's not even rebuilding. She needs to get over a lot of things in regards to him and she really starts to figure out what it is she really cares about and what it is she really is going to go after.
She's a very competitive person and I've also gotten to play a lot of basketball so far this season. So, that's been a lot of fun. That comes with new friends and new lessons to learn.QUESTION:
Excellent. Now looking back from a sort of personal standpoint, maybe professional, but not as your characters, just as two young women, I would love to hear from both of you how your life has changed since Switched at Birth
became this big phenomenon the last couple of months.VANESSA MARANO:
I honestly wouldn't say my life has changed that much, other than the fact that I have a job, which is awesome. It's a job with fantastic, talented, wonderful people and I'm so pleased that I'm part of something that really has hit home with both the hearing community and the deaf community. So, if anything, I think my life has changed in that aspect is that I feel like I'm a part of something that people genuinely love and are genuinely caring about.KATIE LECLERC:
For me, it seems quite a bit. I was working as a receptionist before this job and I was able to, literally, have my dreams come true. I was able to quit. I became successful in something that I had worked for ten years to achieve. I've made incredible new friends. I've gotten to go places and experience things that I never would have otherwise. Every day is a new lesson in gratitude.QUESTION:
What do both of you like best about your character?VANESSA MARANO:
What I like most about Bay is that people don't always love her. She's kind of difficult. She's a little bit socially awkward almost. She says what's on her mind without really thinking about it. She has a sense of humor that a lot of people don't get and she really just genuinely wants to be loved and accepted by people but she has a really hard time with it.KATIE LECLERC:
My favorite thing about Daphne is that she's never a victim. She is a normal high-school girl who struggles with boys and she gets good grades and she plays basketball and she has all these day-to-day activities that anyone can relate to. No matter who you are, you can relate to it; the struggles, the ups and downs, and oh, by the way, she happens to also be deaf. It's almost secondary to the rest of her life. She thrives in people and not in sorrow and wallowing in what some people might see as a huge challenge. But she gets over it.VANESSA MARANO:
If anything, I think Daphne handles life better than Bay, ironically.QUESTION:
What was it like for the two of you to present at the AMA?KATIE LECLERC:
It was awesome. It was the best night ever. It was really, really fun and to get to do it with my good friend, Vanessa, was that much more special. It was super cool.VANESSA MARANO:
We had the best time. We had so much fun. It was great; weirdly, because neither one of us is involved in the music industry so it was kind of almost—I feel like we were giddy to be there because it was something that we weren't involved in, yet we were involved in because we were presenting.KATIE LECLERC:
Totally giddy to be there. Totally giddy.QUESTION:
Was it nerve wracking?KATIE LECLERC:
No, it wasn't nerve wracking. It was just exciting, I think, more than—there's just a good energy and LMFAO was the best performance of the night, hands down. It was so much fun, so much fun.VANESSA MARANO:
It was so great. We had the best time. We were not nervous, but I think at one point after we presented, totally got stuck on stage and didn't know where to go. Like totally, like oh, okay, done with our little lines now and they're performing and we're still standing here.KATIE LECLERC:
Yes, the poor stage manager had to like come out from behind the curtain and like wave us over to her like, come here you guys. So much fun.QUESTION: Switched at Birth
has so many fans. What has been your favorite experience or reaction from one of the fans?VANESSA MARANO:
Katie, you want to take that?KATIE LECLERC:
Sure, yes. I have to tell you, I Tweet and I love Twitter. It's just the immediate response that is so readily accessible. I love going on and we'll get comments from fans that are small mementos like, 'I learned how to be patient with my deaf cousin because of Switched at Birth
', or big mementos like, 'I understand the importance of and the need for interpreters so I changed my major to ASL because of Switched at Birth
'. I mean, it's a very broad spectrum, but I think the response has just been overwhelmingly positive and I understand why. When we working on it, I think all of us felt like we were doing something that was special and important. Now that those fans have kind of responded similarly, I'm just proud to be a part of it and thankful to have been along for the ride.VANESSA MARANO:
Katie and I both did a signing at Planet Hollywood in New York and it was amazing to see the hearing fans and the deaf fans; how many of them there were and to see them together and to see each community that there is not necessarily a divide between, but both joining a program for different reasons and similar reasons. I think that that's been the most amazing thing is that we have such a colorful group of fans because they're hearing, they're deaf, they're teenage, they're mothers, they're male - a lot of them which is surprising. And I think that that's great.QUESTION:
And along those lines, you guys talk about how you have such a broad range of fans, what do you think is the connecting thread that this show seems to connect with so many different people?VANESSA MARANO:
I think it's because it's so relatable. There's a character for everybody to relate to. You're a Daphne, you're a Bay, you're a Kathryn, you're a Regina, you're a John, you're a Toby, and you're an Emmett. I think that what really resonates with people is that there are so many story lines and to top it off, you're learning about culture and community that a lot of people weren't introduced to beforehand.QUESTION:
One of the things that's so enticing about the show is that there has been so many plot twists and surprises, just in the first episodes. Were either of you able to see them coming? Or were you just as surprised when you read the script?KATIE LECLERC:
We don't get to read anything. It's tragic and fun, kind of, at the same time. But I just want to know—I just feel like I should know.VANESSA MARANO:
I have tried so hard. Our writers will tell you I'm still trying. I like walk up to them randomly, and I'm like, "So, guys, what's happening in episode ...". I don't do it well, but I try really hard. They will not tell us anything. And with the whole Regina knowing about the switch, Constance knew most of the time because it affected the way she was playing the character and the writers obviously knew. Li
y, our producer, was so proud of herself keeping that secret from the rest of the cast. Like she was so proud of herself and I think, if anything, it has been enticing her more to keep her secrets.KATIE LECLERC:
She is a really good secret keeper and it's really hard on all of us. I mean, because we're just as much fans of the show as the fans are themselves. So, on a weekly basis, we are waiting on pins and needles to find out what happens next.QUESTION:
Bay and Daphne seem to have very different clothing styles on the show. I was wondering if either of you kind of match up to your character's fashion sense? Or you just can't believe what you're wearing? Where do you fall on that?KATIE LECLERC:
I feel like I have a very similar style sense to Daphne. I am very much a jeans and t-shirt kind of gal when I'm hanging out at home and Daphne does that. Daphne wears a lot of cardigans, though. I'm not so much a cardigan gal.VANESSA MARANO:
I agree. My style is very similar to Bay, if it was multiplied by a thousand. I like the color black and Bay likes the color black, too. But Bay's honest, so she gets crazy artistic with funky, kooky skirts and the combat boots and the everything and it's awesome because it's like what I totally--if I would see on a mannequin and would be like, "Yes, that's really cool", but would never be brave enough to wear in real life.QUESTION:
I saw your Winter Wonderland pictures and it looked like it was a blast. I was wondering what it was like to get together with the whole ABC Family family?KATIE LECLERC:
I was telling Jen, the publicist, earlier since I was a little girl I've always wanted to go to Rockefeller Plaza at Christmas and ice skate underneath the tree and that, in itself, was a great experience. We got to see Blair Redford, who is on The Lying Game
. I love Blair and it was nice to see him. It was nice to see them again and New York in the wintertime is just a sight to see all by itself. It was a great weekend. It was a quick trip, but a great weekend.VANESSA MARANO:
It was beautiful. I was so excited that none of us fell, with the exception of Constance Marie, when ice skating. I was proud of the whole ABC Family for that.QUESTION:
How do Bay and Daphne deal with Angelo's return this season?VANESSA MARANO:
They deal with it really differently. Bay has, the sane half of her that she for 16 years didn't realize she was going to have. She just wants him to be awesome. Wants him to love her and in a way, she even wants him to accept her more than he does Daphne. Because in the long run, everybody has accepted and loved Daphne and while everybody accepts and loves Bay, it's a little bit harder to get to know Bay. She just wants the Angelo thing to work and she wants him to live up to her expectations so much that she is almost blinded to anything negative about him.KATIE LECLERC:
Daphne never had Angelo in her life but she had a place to put every ounce of anger, every ounce of distrust in humanity, every negative. Daphne is a very optimistic person but I think it is a result of her stashing away every negative feeling she ever had and blaming it all on Angelo, and at the same time, blaming all of his decisions on herself because she has guilt and anger and sorrow and loneliness and so much to deal with, with him. There is a lot of rebuilding to do. So I think it starts slow and you have to take him with baby steps.QUESTION:
Do you have a favorite episode so far from either the shows we've seen or upcoming shows from season one?VANESSA MARANO:
Oh, that's a good question. Let's see. From season one (a), I've always been partial to episode seven because that was kind of the first episode that Daphne and Bay were working together, and Katie and I actually had more than three scenes with each other. That was fun. Oh my God, I actually get to work with you. Cool. I've always really liked that episode. It's always been one of our funnier episodes, too.
From this upcoming season, I don't know if I can fairly judge because we're in the middle of shooting right now. According to our writer, who will not tell us anything, there are so many more awesome things to come.KATIE LECLERC:
I can't pick from the ones to come. Man, I'm so excited to see what happens. I think we start off the return of season one, I think we start off incredibly strong. We got to watch the first episode yesterday at lunch and I—wow. Everyone was just so strong and really just talented and awesome.
For the last part, I think maybe episode four where we have the big fundraiser party at the Kennish house. I think that was one of the—I mean that episode has so many shots where you can see everybody; so everybody was on set all the time and we all kind of got to hang out together. Yes, I think that one has a special place in my heart. Plus, Emmett on the drums is just awesome.VANESSA MARANO:
Really awesome. And I'm going to brag about Katie for a second. Because in the first episode coming back this season, she has quite possibly one of the most beautiful, amazing, emotional scenes by this gorgeous lake in Santa Clarita or in St. Louis because that's where it takes place in the show. The entire crew was just in awe of her and she did an awesome job, so I'm taking on the challenge of bragging about her and there it is.KATIE LECLERC:
I love you.QUESTION:
I can't wait to see that episode. My next question is do you have a sort of like behind the scenes moment from filming or something that you could share with us that we wouldn't know about?KATIE LECLERC:
As fans and you guys might remember, in episode nine of the last season there's a dream sequence where Daphne is dreaming about what her life would be like if she had never switched. I speak in my regular voice and there's this weird moment where Daphne is dressed in Buckner Hall uniform and it's just strange. In the process of filming that, I got to wear the Buckner Hall uniform and in that same episode we had a stunt double for Vanessa.
Our hairdresser had sewn together two wigs to match Vanessa's hair and it was sitting there in the makeup chair enticing me. So, I'm like, we've got to take advantage of this. So I asked the hairdresser to put the wig on me and then Vanessa found out about our endeavor and went and found a Carlton High School uniform and we made up some mock hearing aids. We went to the table read and the director for that episode happened to be David ..., who's directing the episode we're working on now. We love him to death.
He walked over to me and shook my hand and said, "Hello, Vanessa. I'm David. It's a pleasure to be working with you". And he turns to Vanessa and says, "Hello, Katie. I'm David". Neither of us had the heart to tell him for like a couple of days that we had played this prank on him. It was pretty terrible actually. It kind of was, but he was a good sport about it. We love him. We're forever bonded to David ... now after that. It's true. It's true.QUESTION:
Could you tell me a reason why your character belongs with Emmett and a reason why your character doesn't belong with Emmett?VANESSA MARANO:
This might be a little bit hard for both of us. Because I know that Katie is Team Bay and Emmett and I'm a little bit Team Daphne and Emmett, which is weird.
I think Bay and Emmett belong together because they both have very similar views on the world and they both care enough about each other that they're kind of stepping outside of their comfort zone to learn a different language or to speak. Which both of them I don't think would have done under normal circumstances but they care so much about the other person that they're going to do that.
The reason why I think Bay and Emmett don't belong with each other is that they have very similar views on the world and it's almost too similar. I don't know that they balance each other out enough.KATIE LECLERC:
I think Daphne and Emmett should be together because Emmett saves Daphne. I think she will always have this adoration for him that will be unquenched by anyone else because he was the person who showed her who she could be with the deaf culture and introduced her to a language and a people that she really very much is a part of.
And they shouldn't be together because it's really hard, I think, to make the transition from best friend to relationship and especially, I think, in high school. I think the long-term final outcome would be that maybe they wouldn't end up together, finally. I don't know.
I think that Bay and Emmett are—the thing is I think we see the cuteness in each other, like I think Vanessa is the most adorable thing I've ever laid my eyes on other than my puppy, Gus. So, just seeing the two of them together, I just think is so adorable. I don't know. I think that's why we were rooting for the other team.VANESSA MARANO:
It's true. It's true. You're pretty cute, Katie. I'm not going to lie.QUESTION:
Are any other appearances or projects outside Switched at Birth
that you're both working on right now, big or small, that we could keep an eye out for where we might see either one of you pop up on TV or some other place?VANESSA MARANO:
I'm kind of working in a Switched at Birth
bubble right now. We've got 22 episodes that are coming up that we're airing in January and 10 are airing in the summer. So, we have been working nonstop on Switched at Birth
. I can plug more Switched at Birth
, which I'm totally cool with doing.KATIE LECLERC:
In fact, I might mention while we're talking about plugging more Switched at Birth
, our DVDs come out on the 13th of December so fans can catch up before the January 3rd premier. But, I too, am just fully dedicated to Daphne at this moment.VANESSA MARANO:
And what a great Christmas gift, the Switched at Birth
DVD just in time for the premiering season, right?QUESTION:
Do you have particular routines, rituals, or things you go through, especially during the holidays, that you'd like to share with our readers?VANESSA MARANO:
Okay, for the holiday season, every Christmas Eve my sister and my mom and I—they cook Christmas cookies and just bake. My mom bakes fudge and my dad actually makes like a seafood feast; like shrimp and calamari. That's kind of our holiday tradition is Christmas Eve is cookie and seafood night. Yummy.KATIE LECLERC:
My family, I think the biggest one is we'll open Christmas presents on Christmas morning listening to the Nat King Cole album, the Christmas album. I don't know; it's just like a staple in our family every year.
We will do that and feast. My family loves food. We're big eaters. So we'll just prepare a feast and every year there's something different. Like we're going to try something new, but we always have cream corn as a staple, which is kind of weird because most families don't like it, but we make a delicious one.
And then for this year, I'm super, super excited. I get to go home to San Antonio where they are now and then when we're done doing that, Vanessa and I get to go to New York City to do New Year's Eve on MTV Live. This year, our tradition might be a little bit untraditional. I'm really excited. Katie and Vanessa take New York, New Year's Eve.VANESSA MARANO:
Check it out. MTV.QUESTION:
Do you both cook? Are you a budding chef in your part-time in your spare time?KATIE LECLERC:
You could say that. Sure, yes. I love to cook. We, actually Vanessa and I have this great thing where she'll come over to my apartment and I'll cook dinner and her and my boyfriend will watch awesome reality television together. We all get to hang out and spend time together and I get to cook and that's what I want to do so I'm perfectly happy with it.QUESTION:
You cook and then after that you fist pump, is that what you're telling me?KATIE LECLERC:
Exactly. How'd you know?VANESSA MARANO:
I cook a little bit; not by any means the amount that Katie does. I grew up in a house where my dad cooked and my mom burned things. So, I'm kind of split in the middle there.QUESTION:
You all sound like you guys have way too much fun together and it would be great to have some viral footage out there of a Vanessa/Katie dance party/mix and mingle.KATIE LECLERC:
Oh, my goodness. This sounds like it has to happen.QUESTION:
When the show went on break in August, Daphne's character was really facing a lot of disappointment between seeing Emmett and Bay together, Angelo returning, having issues with the cooking class. When the show resumes, do things start looking up for Daphne? Or are they going to get worse before they get better?KATIE LECLERC:
That's a hard question to answer. Yes and yes. I think things look up I think Daphne finds success in her personal life in many different areas and just because there's trouble and turmoil with Angelo and bickering and competitiveness with Bay, I think there are always outlets where you can find something positive and something happy.
She focuses a lot of energy on basketball and has some up and downs with that as well. Ultimately, that's life and Daphne just has a good attitude about things in general. That's not to say she doesn't get a little catty, but that's fun for everyone.QUESTION:
Vanessa, with several actors on the show relying solely on sign language as a means to communicate, how is your own sign vocabulary coming?VANESSA MARANO:
Okay, so let's talk really quickly about how in this upcoming season the person who does the most sign language on the show is not Constance Marie or Katie Leclerc, who's fluent in sign language, or Sean Berdy, who is also fluent in sign language. It's me because Bay has started to sign more with Daphne now and she signs with Emmett and, in a teaser sort of way, she's signing a lot with Melody, Emmett's mother as well.
So, I am doing the most sign language on the show. I don't know how that happened, but somehow it did. That being said, Bay's sign language is excellent. Vanessa's sign language is getting there. I hope to be as fluent as Bay in a little bit, but as of right now, Bay is way better at sign language than I am.KATIE LECLERC:
That being said, Katie and Vanessa had a private conversation in sign language unbeknownst to everyone around them the other day. That was pretty fun. We're telling secrets, everybody.VANESSA MARANO:
That might be like my driving force to really learning sign language. Not communication, secret communication.KATIE LECLERC:
Right, right. That was a triumph for me; a personal goal.QUESTION:
Can you talk a little bit about how you each got involved in acting?VANESSA MARANO:
The story is a little bit long but I'll try to give the abridged version. My mother was an actress and she became an acting coach and a drama teacher and she ended up opening her own children's theater and I was always around her directing plays.
When I was six years old, I started lightly begging to start acting and she said absolutely not. I don't think that children should act. It's a horrible business. I don't want to deal with stage mothers. You should have a childhood, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.
Finally, when I was about eight, I wore her down and so she looked up different agents and there was this particular children's agency with two children's agents who rumored to turn children down for no good reason and squash their dreams. My mom was like I'm taking her there so that they can turn her down and I can say, hey, you know what? I was semi-supportive and when you're 18 and can drive yourself, then you can give it a go.
And so she took me and they give you sides to read and my mother, the drama coach does not help her eight-year-old daughter prepare these sides at all, no, no, no. You'll be fine. Go ahead, wing it, have fun. And so I go in and I read and the two agents called my mom in and said we're going to take your daughter and my mom almost had a heart attack in the lobby.
Then my little sister, who was five years old, a year younger than when I started begging to act, just walked in—she had just come along for the ride—and went, I don't have an agent. Take me too. And they were like, you know what? We will. So, my mom got two for the price of not wanting one. And my sister and I have been acting for 11 years ever since.KATIE LECLERC:
I was Annie in eighth grade. I just kind of fell in love with it. I was living in Colorado at the time and bullied by a group of girls, so we decided to move to California and lived in San Diego. And I, too, went through the begging phase of asking my parents to make the two-hour drive to L.A. and ultimately, ended up doing it about four times a week before we moved to L.A. about two years later.
It was a process and thankfully, my parents were supportive along the ride.VANESSA MARANO:
I think a lot of people don't realize that with kids who start acting underage, how much of a commitment it is for your parents. It's like they're driving you. They're on the set with you. Katie and I both have really terrific families and that's just so helpful. That's just so helpful.QUESTION:
You guys both clearly love your characters and love working on the show. When you first read this script, what was it about each of your characters that made you want to play them?KATIE LECLERC:
I had never seen anything like what we were doing on the pages of Switched at Birth
. It really resonated with me to be true and honest. Even in the pilot we talked about issues related to deaf cultures; the cochlear implants and the uphill battle and the humor that can go along with it too. Because deaf people are some of the funniest people I've ever met in my life. It just shined a light on a culture that I loved and was familiar with and wanted to share with everyone else.VANESSA MARANO:
For me, the moment I truly fell in love with the script for Switched at Birth
because when I read it, it was different and I've been doing this for a long time but whenever you're doing a pilot you're very skeptical. But the minute that we did the table read for the show and the words on the page that Li
y wrote were brought to life, because she truly wrote for them to be said.
The table read flowed and was beautiful and seeing the actors sign and seeing the actors act and bring these beautiful words that were so different and were about something so unique to life was the moment that I was like, wow, this could work. This is actually going to work. And it did and people I think really responded to that, to these words that were meant to be said and were meant to be signed and to see it together is such a unique, fascinating different combination that you can't see anywhere else.QUESTION:
Working with all of those amazing experienced professionals, could you each tell me who you would say made the biggest impact on you since you started working with them, either personally or professionally?VANESSA MARANO:
That's hard. That's really hard. I don't think I could pick one. I think our entire cast influences each other in different ways. Lea Thompson is so funny and so giving and D.W. knows so much and is so much fun to be around. Constance, too, is just so knowledgeable and giving. All three of them; so knowledgeable and so giving and so funny and just delights and professional people and absolute gems to work with.
And then on the younger spectrum, Sean is fantastic. I adore Lucas. I think he is a blast to work with, also very giving. I can't even go into words about Katie because then I'm just going to sound like I'm obsessed with her, which I maybe kind of am. But that's the thing I think that's so great about our show and that people really feel about our show is that we all enjoy working together and it is a group of such talented people who have been doing this for a very long time.
I don't think we have a newbie in the bunch. Everybody's been doing it for over five years. Like way over five years, too, by the way. To see that, to see a group of people who know what they're doing and love what they're doing and really enjoy working with each other, I couldn't be happier and I'm so fortunate to be on this set and I would not trade it for anything in the world.KATIE LECLERC:
I just want to add to that by saying I think it shows on the screen. I think it shows. I think you can tell when cast members dislike each other and I think you can tell when cast members have a ball. And we, I've got to tell you, have so much fun every single day. I just thank my lucky stars that I get to work with the cast members that we do. And the crew members that we do as well. I mean, our show looks beautiful and it's thanks to our lighting group guys and our GP. We've gotten to work with incredibly talented directors along the way.
I mean, I think we all balance each other out in a way that we all challenge each other. If you are in a scene with any one of our actors and you are phoning them in or not bringing your 'A' game, you look like crap because every one is so much better. I think that everybody shows up with all the skill in a bag in every department and it's really a joy to work with everyone.VANESSA MARANO:
That's true. And I think that that's something that the audience doesn't really realize is how important the crew is and we were fortunate that we got a lot of our crew members back from the first ten to come back on this next twenty-two. There's such a good rapport with everyone and such a great vibe with everyone's talent in every single department. I think an audience doesn't really realize that when you're watching, there's a whole picture there.
There is a set design. There are props. There is sound happening. The camera, making things look great. The lighting, making things look really great. It's just so many different pieces of a puzzle, PAs queuing extras, that make a show be?autiful and make a show what it is. I think every piece to our puzzle sits perfectly.KATIE LECLERC:
It's really true. I mean, we have—it's one thing to see the names at the end of the show. It's another thing to see the bodies that it takes and the amount of just mass that it takes. The cool thing about our crew, like Vanessa said, we got a lot of them back from the last ten episodes and a lot of them are learning sign language at the same time as working on the show. It just really creates this commonality and like a bond with everybody. Everybody is learning something new every single day. It's so much fun.VANESSA MARANO:
I'm so—and I can speak for Katie too. We are so appreciative of everyone on this show in every single department. I don't think it would be the same show without them.