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Interview with Vanessa Marano of "Switched
at Birth" on ABC Family 6/27/13
I always enjoy speaking to Vanessa. She's such a kind and
thoughtful young lady. I have enjoyed her work for many
years on shows like "The Young & The Restless" and "Without
a Trace". This was a fun call.
ABC Familyís Q&A with Vanessa Marano
Switched at Birth
Moderator: Was there anything about Bay that wasnít
originally scripted for you that you added to her?
V. Marano: Bay, in the pilot, wasnít as comedic as sheís
turned out to be. She was a little bit gloomier and Iíd say
even a little bit angrier than what she is, and then sort of
through collaboration with directors and writers she becomes
a little bit more comedic.
Moderator: What kind of moments should we be looking forward
to this season?
V. Marano: This season is summer, and so we think of summer
so bright and happy and fun in the sun, and itís a very
dramatic season, particularly for Bay itís quite life
changing for her.
Moderator: Could you tell us more about the upcoming
ďWhat-IfĒ episode and how it affects the families?
V. Marano: The ďWhat-IfĒ episode is probably my favorite
episode this season. I think itís going to be a very
satisfying episode for fans and itís a whole ďwhat if the
families found out that the girls were switched at age 3
rather than at age 16?Ē ďWhat if Regina had told the
Kennishes what she had found out about the girls being
switched?Ē And so I think itís going to be very satisfying
for fans because they get to see that, itís in this whole
push-and-pull of ďdid Regina do the right thing?Ē, and they
get to see whether or not she did. And a lot of it has to do
with Johnís justification of what Regina did, and heís still
so angry about it and how everything would have turned out
for each character.
So itís really fun, because you get to play a character that
youíve been playing for so long but you also have completely
different circumstances than what your character had grown
up with. And Switched has always been about nature versus
nurture, so this is what if the nurture wasnít what it was
because everything changed when the girls were three.
Moderator: Will the change in family dynamic continue this
season or will she be able to repair her relationships
within her family?
V. Marano: Well, she repairs the relationship with Daphne,
which is nice. I like that those two canít stay mad at each
other as much as they used to. They used to really be able
to stay very mad at each other. Theyíve also evolved more
into sisters. But this is a really big season for Toby. Heís
usually a character thatís in the background that you lean
on for support, but itís a very big season for him. Heís
talking about getting married, and whether or not thatís the
right decision, and so itís a lot about growing up and
figuring out if youíre doing something for love, if thatís
the right decision or not.
Moderator: What has been the best thing about the show?
V. Marano: I would say the people I work with. I really enjoy
the entire cast, and the entire crew, and the producers and
writers. I really do like everybody that I work with. And
itís nice to be in a situation where youíre stuck in the
middle of nowhere for 12 hours and you havenít gotten any
sleep, but you like everybody around you.
Moderator: What have you learned from working on the show?
V. Marano: Sign language. I didnít know sign language before
the show, but I kind of know sign language now.
Moderator: Do you find yourself subconsciously using ASL in
your normal everyday conversations?
V. Marano: I wouldnít say I use it in my normal everyday
conversation. But, yes, I definitely get into a mode when
Iím whispering to somebody, because usually when Iím not
using it on set for a scene, Katie and I, when theyíre
rolling and youíre not allowed to talk, weíll sign a little
bit back and forth just to talk in the middle of shooting.
Weíre mature like that. And so usually if Iím in a situation
where Iím whispering and I have to be quiet, sometimes Iíll
just end up doing it because Iím kind of used to mouthing
the words while Iím using my hands. And it happens a lot
with my sister and my one friend, Megan, and they always go,
ďDude, I donít know sign language. I donít know how many
times I have to tell you that. Youíre not helping yourself.Ē
Moderator: Has it been hard for you to learn it?
V. Marano: Yes, it has been. Itís throwing yourself into a
completely different element. Itís nice, though. Itís nice
to be able to challenge yourself in that way, because
Switched is a story that we all know. Itís a story about
searching for identity and itís a story about searching for
a family, but itís done in this different way involving the
deaf community and involving deaf characters, and involving
sign language. And so you canít really get bored because
youíre seeing a story that youíre familiar with told in a
Moderator: Could you talk about how Bay is feeling right now
about both of the moms?
V. Marano: Well, Bay right now is bonding more with Regina,
and thatís not, even though I donít think Kathryn sees it
that way, anything against Kathryn. Itís just sheís never
had an opportunity to bond with Regina and it always felt
like Daphne and Kathryn got all of this mother-daughter time
and Daphne still got to be a mother-daughter with Regina,
and Bay got nothing. And so this season is really about them
finding their mother-daughter connection, Regina and Bay.
Moderator: Can you share a funny story with us about being on
V. Marano: A funny story about being on set, letís see, well,
there are so many things. We all get along just so well. The
only thing that strikes my mind immediately is Katie was a
huge High School Musical fan, and at one point it was like
4:00 in the morning and Lea Thompson, you know sheís done
Cabaret on Broadway, sheís done her share of musical
theatre, as has Lucas Grabeel, who was in High School
Musical, and everyone was tired and delirious and Lea at one
point was like, ďJust teach me the dance, teach me the dance
from high school musical.Ē And so Lucas did it and Katieís
eyes lit up with this look of excitement. It was hilarious.
Moderator: What was it like filming the all ASL episode that
aired in March? Do you think there will be another one?
V. Marano: Well, it was the first time it was ever done on
television and it was the first time a whole episode had
been done in sign language. So it was kind of nerve-wracking
actually, because you were doing something that had never
been done before, so all of a sudden you have this huge
responsibility to do it right. And so it was actually pretty
difficult, but the result was amazing. I hope weíll do
another one. There are no words for doing one right now. But
it turned out great and it was really cool, because Switched
in general is something thatís never been done before,
thereís never been a show with a lead character that is deaf
and so many deaf actors. So to be doing something that Iíd
never even done before on top of that, with an entire
episode that was done in sign language was pretty cool to be
a part of. Things that are groundbreaking, really.
Moderator: If Toby and Nikki do get married, who do you think
will be Bayís date to the wedding?
V. Marano: Oh, thatís a good question. Letís see, episode
three just aired, I donít know if I can give away who Bayís
date is going to be to the wedding right now considering
where weíre at.
Moderator: Is Bay how you expected her to be in the ďWhat-IfĒ
episode, or was it surprising to you?
V. Marano: Personality wise, actually Bay hasnít really
changed that much. Personality wise she has changed the
least out of everybody. The biggest difference with Bay is
when we first meet Bay in the pilot of Switched at Birth, we
see her as this confident, truly her own person type of
teenager, and then her world gets turned upside down by the
switch; all of a sudden she is vulnerable and sheís
struggling and sheís building up walls, and everything sheís
known is a lie. So we really catch Bay to the point of a
nervous breakdown when we first meet her in Switched, and
itís just in the seasons that weíve been shooting have been
building her back up to become the person that she believes
she was born to be. So this season we have Bay in the
ďWhat-IfĒ episode being raised the entire time knowing that
she didnít belong to Kathryn and John, knowing that she was
raised in a situation where she wasnít a Kennish, and so
that definitely changes her perspective on things. It
doesnít necessarily change Bay, but I think it numbs her a
Moderator: Do you feel like your daytime experience helped
prepare you for this role?
V. Marano: You know what, Iíve said this so many times in
interviews, I was so against doing a daytime show when I
first got offered The Young and the Restless. I was like,
ďOh, I donít know. That doesnít feel like itís me. I donít
know if I want to do it.Ē And my mother talked me into it.
My mother was like, ďYou need to do it.Ē And it was truly
one of the best experiences I had personally and acting
wise. I think I learned so much from that show that I really
do apply to every role that I had afterwards. As far as
memorization goes, I learned so much, as far as trusting
your instincts you learn so much, and my hat is off to any
daytime actor, because what they do is way harder than what
anybody else in television does.
Moderator: Where would you like to see your character go
V. Marano: Letís see, I really hope Bay keeps growing the way
that sheís growing. Sheís a character that kind of takes two
steps forward and one step back, and so by the end of the
series I just hope sheís a well-rounded person.
Moderator: Are there any special celebrity guest appearances
that you know of that are planned for this season?
V. Marano: Well, we have a few returning characters, that
much I can say. Everyoneís seen Blair Redford return as Ty.
Bill Lucking is going to be returning as John Kennishís
father, and we also have a few more returning characters
from the past season, so weíre going to be seeing a few
people that we havenít seen in a while.
Moderator: If they would have a celebrity guest star, who
would you like to see guest on the show?
V. Marano: Well, Iím obsessed with Helen Mirren, so if we
could get her that would be awesome.
Moderator: Will Emmett and Bay be able to be just friends?
V. Marano: Again, we will see. Itís funny, part of the
ďWhat-IfĒ episode is a what-if for Emmett and Bay, so we get
to see circumstances changed, what they would have been.
Moderator: Are there any other struggles that Bay will be
dealing with this season?
V. Marano: Definitely Ty and Bay is a struggle. Bay and
Emmett is a struggle this season. And Regina and Angelo and
Bay all living under the same roof turns into a struggle as
well, because itís just not exactly what everybody expects
it to be. But you know what, what family is?
Moderator: Could talk about how similar or different you are
V. Marano: Itís funny, I think Iím actually very different
from Bay. Obviously Iím playing her, so it doesnít appear
that thereís much of a difference, like the cadence of the
way we speak is very similar, our humor is very similar,
because the way that I inflect some certain words reflects
on that. But there are so many times when I read a script
and Iím like, ďWhat are you doing, Bay?Ē Because Bay,
believe it or not is, and she gets this from being raised by
Kathryn Kennish, she almost is an optimist. She goes into
every situation making a crazy decision and thinking that
itís going to turn out totally fine.
She decided to go to deaf school and sheís like, ďWhatís the
worst thing that could happen?Ē Well, Bay, the worst thing
that could happen is that this group of kids who have been
neglected from society because of the fact that they canít
hear are going to be judgmental towards you because youíre
parading on to their campus thinking that you own it. Come
on, Bay, think things through. Or like, ďI want to run away
to Mexico. What could be bad about that?Ē A lot of things,
Bay. Running away to Mexico isnít really the right decision.
And just the main one, Iím going to move my biological mom
and my ďswitchsterĒ into the guest house across from where
my parents live. There wonít be any fighting even though
theyíre complete opposites. She just doesnít think things
through and thinks everythingís going to turn out just fine,
which is something that she gets from, not her biology
mother but from being raised the way she was. And I
constantly find myself saying, ďOh my God, think things
through, Bay.Ē But she wouldnít be the Bay that we all know
and love if she did.
Moderator: Do you possess any musical talent yourself?
V. Marano: None whatsoever. We actually donít know where
Laura [Marano] gets that from in our family. I have a cousin
on one of my family whoís really interested and talented
musically, and the rest of us donít have that gene at all.
Itís really weird, but she has it. But, you know, kudos to
my sister. I am very proud of her. The episode that just
aired on Austin & Ally she actually wrote the song that she
sang. So thatís really cool, 17-years-old and writing a song
for the show that youíre on is pretty impressive and Iím
really proud of her. I was sitting there in my parentsí
living room with her, and I was like, ďYeah, you are finally
you, Ally Dawson, played by Laura Marano.Ē
Moderator: Would you like to work with your sister in the
future on any projects, and what would that be maybe?
V. Marano: Absolutely. I would love to work with my sister. I
love my sister. Really anybody who will have us, I just want
Moderator: Who has influenced you professionally and who you
would love to work with some day if you could pick anybody?
V. Marano: Well, I would say Helen Mirren is the answer to
all of those questions. But there are so many people, like I
would love to work with Christopher Durang on a play. Heís
one of my favorite playwrights. I think heís fantastic.
There are so many directors, and so many writers, and so
many actors that Iíve learned so much from, from watching,
but I would say influence wise so much of what I got
influenced by was my mother directing theater. That was my
perspective on acting, was because my mom was a theater
director. So I would say the way that I learned things and
the way that I thought of acting really came from that.
Moderator: Do you have a Twitter handle?
V. Marano: I do not use Twitter. Well, at this point it just
makes me super unique, doesnít it? I made a decision a very
long time ago that I didnít really be involved with social
media. I donít think Iíd be very good at it. Judging by me
answering all of your questions, do you really think I could
keep it to 150 characters? I donít think so. It is a great
way to promote the show, itís a great way to get to know
your fans, but to me the more important, all-knowing thing
of making eye contact with somebody and connecting with
somebody that way and having a conversation with somebody
face-to-face, I value so much more than hiding behind a
computer screen and doing it that way. So I get it, I
understand it, I do not naysay on anybody who does Twitter,
I totally get it, itís just not for me personally.
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