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Interview with Katie LeClerc of "Switched
at Birth" on ABC Family 8/13/13
ABC Family’s Q&A with Katie Leclerc
Switched at Birth
Moderator: How does it feel to be a part of a show that’s
doing so well and is such a hit with the fans?
Katie: It’s amazing. It’s crazy, because I had been an actor
for about ten years before I got Switched at Birth. You
know, you grow up, and you’re in seventh grade – and after
my seventh grade production of Annie I told my mom I wanted
to be a star. And she looks at me with these hopeful,
doubtful eyes and says anything you want can come true.
The moment that it does come true is the moment that you
realize you have the power to make it happen. I first had to
believe in myself before Switched at Birth could happen. ABC
Family had to believe in Switched at Birth before it could
happen. It’s really just a combination of a lot of good
people making a lot of good choices. I’m really happy to be
a part of it.
Moderator: Can viewers expect some sort of retaliation or
consequences for the girls in the season finale?
Katie: Oh my gosh. You know, the thing about Chip Coto is
that he is scary. I think he’s not afraid to retaliate. He
definitely is aware that Daphne’s a minor, and I think that
complicates things a little bit for him, potentially. But
really it’s Coto against Kennish, and now that there’s two
Kennishes, I think Coto’s barriers have gone up even more
than they were before.
Moderator: What is it like for the cast to film a season
Katie: It’s sort of bittersweet. We get along so, so
incredibly well. Also, by the end of the season, we’re all a
little bit fried and a little bit ready for some hiatus and
family time. Just to get a little bit of a break. But it’s
weird, because they’re our family, too.
I think going into it, everybody’s very excited. The first
day of the last episode, everybody’s like, yes, it’s the
last episode, finally. Then when it’s finally the last day
of the last episode, it’s sad. It’s really sad.
Usually, whoever’s in the first scenes of the day always
stays until the very end of the day. This time Vanessa and I
had the second scene of the day and we ended up staying
until 10 p.m. that day. We just goof around and we laugh at
each other’s scenes. It’s sort of like the last day of
school. We’re all cracking each other up and trying to make
each other laugh during their close-ups.
Of course, everyone’s so professional. I tried to get D.W.
to laugh so hard on the last day and I could not get it. It
was the saddest day of my life. Now my goal for next season
is to make D.W. crack on a close-up.
Moderator: Did the cast and crew do anything special
commemorating the final episode of the season?
Katie: Yes, actually. The Kennish kitchen set, everybody kind
of hangs out after they call “cut” the last time. There was
some champagne that got popped and we sort of just all hung
out for hours and chatted with each other. It was just very
mellow, very low key. Nobody’s going to break the set
It was just very sweet to say “Okay, this is it for a little
while and we’ll see you in a few months.” At that time, we
didn’t know that we had Season 3, so it was a little bit
like “Okay, will we see each other?” And we’re all good, but
it’s bittersweet. We really, really love each other.
Moderator: What was it like for you to film the “What If”
episode and do a completely different take on Daphne?
Katie: It was amazing. I feel like it started with the fact
that we had David Paymer as our director for that episode.
He’s such a special director. He’s directed us about four or
five times now.
Being that he’s an actor, I think that he had a definite
perspective on where this is going. We trust him. It was
great to have such a 180º on a character that I’ve been
playing for almost 3 years now, and to sort of reimagine her
and put her in totally different shoes, some Louis Vuitton
It was really fun; it was really amazing. Also, the fact
that the fans got to hear my real speaking voice, I think,
was incredibly valuable for me as an actor. And to see some
of the fan feedback was just overwhelming.
I’m so grateful for our fans. I think we have really loyal
people watching our show and I think it makes the cast
members aware of that - it kind of makes us work harder. We
don’t want to let anybody down, and I think our writers
definitely spearhead that for us.
We all work very hard. The “What If” episode was my favorite
episode of this season, so thank you.
Moderator: Do you like doing comedy?
Katie: I love comedy, yes, absolutely. I was on an episode of
The Big Bang Theory as Raj’s love interest, and it turned
out that my character was this big gold digger. That was one
of the most rewarding experiences I’ve ever done. I would
love to do more sitcom, more comedy.
We always try to find the comedy with Switched at Birth.
Maybe ABC Family, maybe the directors and producers just
want it to be a little bit more serious in tone. But
especially when Lea Thompson was directing, she loves the
comedy and she looks for the comedy and she asks us to do
even more comedy.
Yes, I think that we have a really humorous cast. So I love
it when we get to play.
Moderator: How has your relationship between Daphne and Bay
evolved from previous seasons?
Katie: Well, they’re definitely sisters. I know with my
sister there are moments where you love each other; there
are moments where you just want to punch each other. That
sibling rivalry thing, I think it just runs deep.
I think when they started off—Bay was a little bit hesitant,
like “Who is this girl?” She never really felt like she
belonged in the Kennish family, so now there’s this other
person who really does. I think she was totally thrown off
of her balance and didn’t really know where she fit in.
So they were sort of at odds with each other. As we’ve
evolved, we’ve gotten to know each other as a family unit
and sort of started to figure that out - especially with Bay
spending more time with the Sorrento family. I think she
sort of found her footing.
I think Daphne might have taken a step back after Regina
left. I think that Regina was very, very, very involved in
Daphne’s life. Honestly, I think that if Regina hadn’t moved
in with Angelo, I’m not sure that all of the Chip Coto
business would have happened. I think that Regina just had a
stronger hold on Daphne, and now that she’s getting to do
that with Bay I think that it’s wonderful for Bay.
But Daphne and Bay sort of love each other and hate each
other. I think right now they love each other. I’m much
happier when we love each other because I, personally, love
Vanessa Marano and I love when we get to smile at each other
Moderator: Why do you think that this show is such a big hit
Katie: I think that the interesting thing is the deaf hook.
It’s a window into a world that many people have been
curious about. It’s fascinating because ASL is the third
most common language in the United States, but if you don’t
know a deaf person, you may never have been exposed to that
It’s something that is very curious and very accessible, but
it’s a little bit frightening if you’re not comfortable with
it to begin with. This show gives people the opportunity to
really jump in with both feet.
For example, we did a silent episode last season, in Season
Two. I think that that made huge strides for the deaf
community, and for the hearing community. Even my mom, who
said the moment where the Switched at Birth titles did their
normal thing and they flipped – the Switched and the Birth
flip top and bottom – she said that was the moment where she
went “Oh, I get it.” So she’d been watching 40 episodes and
really didn’t get it until that moment where it was the
silent episode and she got to put herself in that world.
I think that’s why people are really interested. I think
that we also take risks; for example, the deaf episode and
also the “What If” episode, which I keep calling our Fringe
episode, because I’m also a science fiction nerd. We kind of
get to explore and we get to take these challenges and take
risks. I think that as long as you’re pushing yourself, your
audience is going to follow. So far we’ve been very
successful with that.
Moderator: What do you think has been the biggest change for
Katie: In the silent episode, and leading up to the silent
episode, Daphne was a girl. She was a teenager; she had
regular problems just like every teenager. In the silent
episode where she felt injustice and accompanied with that
felt in herself the ability to make a change and make a
difference, she really took it upon herself to say “Look, I
feel like this is unfair and I feel like I can change it”
and she went after it.
She achieved that goal. She made Carlton the school that she
wanted it to be. It was kind of bittersweet. It wasn’t
exactly what she was looking for. But I think those moments,
for her, gave her power and told her that you don’t have to
stand by and just take what people give you. You can make
things happen for yourself.
So I think that she’s sort of become a woman. She’s learned
that she has a very strong voice and that she can be very
loud with that. I really think that’s a wonderful message to
send to every teenager – boy, girl, deaf, hearing, doesn’t
matter. It’s all about empowerment. The youth have such a
strong voice that they can really utilize and, I think,
sometimes don’t get that opportunity. So they have to take
charge of that opportunity.
Moderator: If you could see Daphne five years into the
future, what do you think she’d be doing?
Katie: Daphne has a lot of talent. She has a lot of skills
and she has a lot of drive. I think she’d like to be, maybe,
in a restaurant. But maybe the chef situation kind of ruined
that, I’m not sure. She loves her family, so I would say in
five years she’s probably going to be graduating school and
making a family of her own.
Moderator: How hard is it for you to imitate someone hard of
Katie: I have to say, when I first started it was the
scariest thing that I had ever done in my whole life. I went
in for the first audition with just my regular speaking
voice and using American Sign Language. I just wanted the
producers to say “Okay, this girl has chops beyond putting
on the gimmick”. I didn’t want it to seem like a gimmick.
They asked me if I could try on the deaf accent. I sat down
with my sister, who’s an ASL teacher, we mapped out Daphne’s
specific hearing loss with her specific audiogram and then,
based on that, figured out what sounds she could say and
what sounds she couldn’t say.
So it’s a very unique accent to Daphne. I worked tirelessly;
I made my family absolutely crazy for months on end. When we
started filming and the pilot was picked up and the momentum
started going, it sort of became second nature.
Now I can say, with confidence, almost three years later,
it’s a switch. I flip it on, I flip it off. It’s sort of the
back of my brain. And I’m really proud of that. Thinking
that it took me so long to get there and it was a lot of
work to get there. I am really proud of the work that I get
to do on Switched at Birth, and the accent is part of that.
Moderator: Do you find that the fans are shocked when they
actually hear you speaking in your normal voice?
Katie: Absolutely. When I find fans on the streets, the first
thing they go is “Huh? You’re not – wait – that’s not your
voice?” It’s such a gratifying experience. I think that
means that I’m doing my job incredibly well.
I look forward to opportunities where I get to use my normal
speaking voice in more film and television. It’s really
funny; it seems like the projects that I’ve booked are
always like I had a German accent or I had some sort of
different speaking situation.
The “What If” episode was really an exciting moment for me
where I got to say “Hi guys, check this out. It’s the show
that you’re already watching but look. Look what I’ve been
doing for two and a half years.”
Moderator: If there was anyone you could work with, who would
Katie: I really think that it would be amazingly fantastic to
have Kristin Chenoweth on our show. I’ve been pitching from
the very, very, very, very, very beginning that we need to
have a musical episode being that Constance Marie was
originally a break dancer; Lea Thompson was originally a
ballet dancer; Lucas Grabeel, obviously, High School
Musical. I think that Kristin Chenoweth would be an amazing
addition to, perhaps, a musical episode.
Also the fact that Kristin Chenoweth has Ménière’s Disease,
I think we’d get along great. And I think we have a lot in
common. We could talk about vertigo from the very beginning.
I think that she’s incredibly talented and beautiful and I
would love to work with her.
Moderator: Do you see Bay and Ty’s relationship and Nikki and
Toby’s relationship working out?
Katie: Yes, I figure as long as the two people who are in the
relationship really care about that relationship and they
really are focused on it and want it to happen, there’s no
reason it couldn’t.
Yes, Toby and Nikki are very young to be getting married,
absolutely. But that doesn’t mean that it won’t work. The
families are very strongly opposed to it and Daphne’s sort
of not. Daphne says look, they love each other. Leave them
alone. It’s not about anything other than the two of them.
Speaking with Bay and Ty, I think that it’s a little bit
more complex. He’s going overseas to Afghanistan. They’ve
been through this once before. But being that they’ve been
through it once before, maybe they’ve learned something in
that experience that they can apply to now.
Long distance relationships take work, they’re very
difficult, but I think that they could figure out a way to
make it happen. And if they don’t, then maybe they can do
what they did before, put it on hold and then revisit it
when he comes back after Afghanistan. I believe that if two
people are committed to each other, there’s no reason it
Moderator: Do you see anything bad happening for the wedding?
Katie: I don’t think that the wedding is going to play out
the way that the parents think the wedding’s going to play
out. Or even, beyond that, necessarily the way that Nikki
and Toby think it’s going to work. They have heavy choices
to make and, faced with so much opposition up to this point,
they need to make the choice for them.
The parents have given their two cents, their five cents,
their quarter. Get over it. It’s really about the kids. I
don’t think it’s going to happen the way that they think it
will, but again, there’s no reason it couldn’t.
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