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Interview with Vanessa Marano of "Switched
at Birth" on
ABC Family 5/30/14
ABC Familyís Q&A with Vanessa Marano
Switched at Birth
Moderator: How excited were you when Switched at Birth was
renewed for a new season?
Vanessa: You know, itís so funny; Iíve been doing this for a
very long time so I go into everything very cynically; like,
ďAlright, well, letís see if weíre coming back.Ē We never
know. But Switched at Birth is the first show Iíve ever been
on thatís generated such a positive strong audience
response. Weíve got incredible support from our viewers,
specifically, the deaf community. Thereís an amount of
confidence there knowing that we have an audience rooting
for us and wanting us to come back, so that was nice. Whatís
great about the way ABC Family works is that they split up
your seasons seasonally, so to speak, so you have your
winter season and your summer season. We have a hiatus, a
break, for two months knowing that we were coming back
airing in the summer, so thatís kind of nice to have a break
and then also know that your job is coming back!
Moderator: Is there any one topic on the program that has had
a very large impact on your personal life?
Vanessa: We deal with so many topics on our show. Weíve
covered the deaf community. Weíve covered a lot of social
and cultural differences. This last season, we introduced a
character who was in a wheelchair, which actually was very
close to my heart because I work with The Christopher & Dana
And theyíve been working so hard to find a cure for
paralysis. It was great Switched introduced the character
who was paralyzed and was so hopeful to find a cure because
that particular foundation is so close to finding a cure
that itís unbelievable. So that tugged at my heartstrings a
This coming season, it gets very emotional; and thereís a
particular episode, in the middle of the season, that I
found very relatable. I think everyoneís going to find
relatable. I canít give you too much information about that.
All I can say is that it was a very emotional episode for
everyone involved, and everyoneís experienced it.
Moderator: What is going to happen between Bay and Emmett
Vanessa: I think Bay and Emmett fans are going to be very
happy this summer. But of course, itís Bay and Emmett, so
theyíre not without their trials and tribulations. Itís a
relationship that I think all the fans have been waiting to
see, revisited and brought back to life. Now that theyíre
finally there, itís not without its struggle. You canít just
get back into a relationship specifically the way they got
back into the relationship. It left with Emmett cheating,
and they got back together with her cheating on her current
boyfriend. So thereís a little bit of a mess right now, but
theyíre together. Theyíre in the mess together.
Moderator: Whatís going to be happening with Bay and Daphneís
Vanessa: Itís a particularly difficult season for Daphne.
Sheís very nervous about her motherís safety now that sheís
involved in this East Riverside Project. In the premiere
episode, Bay and Daphne team up to find the guy who threw
the brick through the window in order to make peace with him
so they know Regina is safe where she is. I donít know if
thatís going to go according to plan, but again, does it
ever go according to plan?
Moderator: How does Bay address her new relationship with
Emmitt to her current boyfriend Tank?
Vanessa: Bay has been cheated on. Sheís experienced the
heartache of it. She is very sensitive in that situation,
and she immediately wants to tell him. She wants to break up
with him. She wants to not hurt him. She doesnít know what
she wants to do, but she knows what the right thing to do
is. So sheís being pulled into two different directions as
far as her knowing she doesnít want to hurt him, but she
also knows that he needs to be aware of the situation. Bay
is feeling so terrible about herself, and Emmett having no
way to really comfort her. I think what hurts the most is in
her situation with Emmett, it was someone who cheated on her
who cared so much about her, and she cares about Tank, but
not in the way that Emmett cares about her. I think that
brings up a lot of scars for her as well. The premiere
episode is a rough one for everyone involved in that
Moderator: How will things continue to escalate between
Emmett and Matthew after the Mandy ordeal?
Vanessa: We find out a little bit more about Matthew and his
reasoning. He is not exactly the most grounded, well-rounded
human being in the sense thatóthat may be with a little bit
of an overreaction, but, yes, we definitely find out more
about him and his motives behind the whole ordeal this
Moderator: Whatís it like working with Marlee Matlin?
Vanessa: So fabulous! She is the definition of a fantastic
actress. She is so talented, but also so lovely to work
with. She brings this humorous energy to a set thatís
contagious, and she really is a joy to work with. The fact
that we had her on our show, a show that is really the first
show on television to feature a guest character so
prominently, and then feature the deaf community so
prominently, was such an honor that she agreed to be on.
Sheís part of the Switched at Birth family, and we wouldnít
have it any other way, and we love every minute that sheís
Moderator: Whatís your favorite part about working on
Switched at Birth?
Vanessa: I would say the people that I get to work with. I
think part of the reason that the show has resonated with
audiences is the energy that we all have with each other,
and we really all got along from day one. Itís nice because
Iíve worked on many television shows and what we have on
Switched at Birth is actually something very special and
very difficult to find. I can say I love going to work every
day: 12 hours, 5 days a week, no sleep; I love going to work
Moderator: What is it like working on the actual Switched at
Vanessa: Itís great! Itís one of the best sets Iíve ever
worked on. I really love everybody I work with!
Moderator: What was your favorite episode of this past
Vanessa: I would shockingly enough say the field hockey
episode where I was in the goalie outfit because I love the
woman who directed that episode. It was the first time that
theyíve written into a script that Vanessa: skills and Bay
skills matched up with one another, which is that they had
no skills -- so that was very easy to play.
Moderator: What is your personal fashion style like and what
influencers are involved with Bayís style?
Vanessa: Our fabulous costume designer, Courtney Stern, is
very collaborative, so sheís definitely open to suggestions
and ideas. I would say whatís similar about me and Bay is
definitely we both go dark, we like our dark colors, but
thatís because Bay and I have the same coloring, obviously
[laughs]. Bay is definitely more of a fashion risk-taker,
which I think you see reflected because our costume designer
is as well. Bay does more of the combat boot thing, the
lacey thing. She dresses herself up in that artistic way,
which is a little bit different than me, but always
something that Iím working on, like, ďOkay, how can I take
that and put it into my wardrobe and mesh it together?Ē
Moderator: How does it feel to consistently be recognized and
part of a program that has an outstanding achievement in
Vanessa: Awesome! Itís something that you donít necessarily
expect coming into a show about family and a show about
teenage girls. Itís not a genre that actually gets
recognized and honored in the way that Switched has been
honored, so itís such an amazing feeling. Itís so great
because you feel like youíre doing something that people
really enjoy, and itís really resonating with people. That
doesnít come around very often, so weíre enjoying every
minute of that.
Moderator: Are there any special guest star in the upcoming
season of Switched at Birth?
Vanessa: We will be seeing a lot of the guest stars from last
season in this season of Switched at Birth, as well as some
new people too. Iím not sure that I can reveal too much
about whoís coming on, but we love our guest stars! Weíre a
big fan of guest stars on Switched at Birth.
Moderator: Are you big a fan of the Disney brand?
Vanessa: I was just at Disneyland Resort on Memorial weekend
with my little sister, funny enough, and she was just at
Walt Disney World and Disneyland, so Iím going to go with a
yes on that one [laughs].
Moderator: What is your favorite Disney theme park?
Vanessa: Iím going to go with Disneyland, the original in
California, because Iím a California girl so all my
childhood memories are there. You canít beat the park that
you were going to when you were two years old!
Moderator: Whatís your favorite Disney ride or attraction in
a Disney park?
Vanessa: I would say itís a coin toss between Splash Mountain
or Pirate of the Caribbean. I do enjoy water.
Moderator: Whatís your favorite food or restaurant within a
Vanessa: Thereís something about a pretzel shaped like Mickey
Mouse that fills my heart with glee. I love soft pretzels.
Thatís a big guilty pleasure of mine, itís shaped like
Mickeyís face and it makes me feel like Iím five years old
Moderator: What is your favorite Disney character?
Vanessa: My favorite Disney character of all time, thatís
hard. I think it changes; my favorite princess growing up
was Belle. I watched Pinocchio over and over again as a
child because my dadís from Italy and that was the movie
that he was like, ďLook, it looks like where I used to
live!Ē Also, Peter Pan, I watched over and over again. I
love Alice in Wonderland and then Lion King. Itís really
hard to choose; thereís so many that I enjoy!
Moderator: Whatís one piece of advice you would personally
give to Bay?
Vanessa: Think things through! Girlfriend doesnít think
anything through [laughs], she says the first thing that
comes to her head. She does not ever think of the negative
repercussions of anything. Itís funny because I think thatís
directly related to her two mothers. Regina is very
independent and very much does what she wants no matter what
anybody says. And Kathryn always looks on the positive side
of things, always, everythingís going to turn out okay.
Those two combinations create Bay, someone who does what she
wants and never thinks anything negative is going to happen.
Moderator: Whatís going to happen on the upcoming season with
Bay and her art?
Vanessa: This is their last year of high school for the
Switched at Birth gang, so Iím sure as all the teenagers who
watch the show know thatís a very stressful time when youíre
applying to colleges and your future is right there in front
of you. Bay has always known what she wanted to do with her
life, so sheís applying to art colleges and thatís where
sheís at right now. Itís a very scary process because you
just donít know whatís going to end up happening.
Moderator: Whatís going to happen with the families this
Vanessa: As always, theyíre together and have each otherís
back. Thatís not without their conflicts because the
Vasquez/Sorrento clan is very different than the Kennish
clan. Weíre reeling from Tobyís divorce, so everyoneís
trying to get him back up on his feet; as well as Bay
feeling whether or not itís the right time to tell everyone
that her and Emmett have rekindled an old flame. As always,
thereís Reginaís safety at this point in time just because
the project that sheís working on in East Riverside with her
boss, Wes, is such a dangerous idea to the point where a
brick gets thrown through your window. Itís a matter of
taking care of her as well. No matter whatís going on in
their lives, they always have each otherís back.
Moderator: What has been the most challenging storyline
youíve had to play as Bay?
Vanessa: Bay and Emmett have so many different aspects of
their relationship that are so difficult. For the first
portion of their time together, it was me having to learn
sign language, which was very hard. For the second portion
of their time together, it was him cheating on her and still
playing that youíre in love with someone whoís cheated on
you -- because I have my own opinion about cheating, which
is that you donít go back to the person -- but Bay obviously
went back to him. So thatís a very challenging thing for me
to portray. You throw in trying to sign all of that when
youíre angry, when youíre sad, when youíre happy, and all
the rants that she could be going on because sheís at so
many different emotional levels of the whole thing, it gets
very challenging. But at the same time, thatís some of my
favorite stuff to do because I like being challenged when
Moderator: Could you talk about your work with Cruelty Free
Vanessa: Iím not a vegetarian or anything like that, but I
canít stand the idea of animals not being treated properly.
Thereís something so terrible about the fact that we take
advantage of creatures who canít speak for themselves, and
they do so much for us from a place of happiness, from so
many other aspects in this world, that I feel like itís our
human duty to make sure we treat them with care. Cruelty
Free International really wants to promote that there are so
many other ways to test cosmetics. For something as
narcissistic as putting makeup on your face, you really
should be going to the other options that donít involve
hurting an animal.
Moderator: What are some of your hobbies/talents outside of
Vanessa: Iíve been asking for a very long time, so Iíve
devoted a lot of time to that. I also draw a little bit. Iím
not as talented as Bay whatsoever. Other than that, really
if I have a massive amount of time off when Iím not working,
I try to go to school. Thatís the extent of the Vanessa:
Marano talent book -- her ability to sit and take notes in a
class and doodle on those notes [laughs].
Moderator: Who would you personally choose, Tank or Emmett?
Vanessa: I donít like cheating, but Bay cheated on Tank, so
there you go. Itís a really interesting situation that sheís
in because I think she was with Tank because she felt so
safe with him, and she hasnít felt safe with Emmett for so
long, so she wasnít really with Tank for the right reasons.
She wants to be with Emmett, but thereís a lack of trust
there thatís going to be a hard relationship to be in as
Moderator: How do you get into character?
Vanessa: I donít [laughs]. Iíve been acting for a very long
time and I started in childrenís theater and really you
donít have the time in theater to really get into character.
Itís so quick. The philosophy that theater has is that you
really get yourself into the headspace. You just kind of
turn it on and off. For me, thatís how I do it just because
I wouldnít be able to be staying in the headspace of the
character for so long. It wouldnít feel real to me because I
know in my gut that I am not that character. While imagining
and performing it, and being able to slip in and out of it
feels real to me because I know itís not me and Iím creating
something. I feel like itís similar to creating a painting
or creating words on a page. Thatís the same thing that
acting is to me.
Moderator: Do you have any fun summer plans during your next
Vanessa: Not at the moment, thereís a possibility that I
might go to New York a little bit to visit family, but other
than that, nothing planned out right now. Itís very hard to
plan your life as an actor because you never know when
youíre going to be working. I think that actually goes for
anybody whoís in the entertainment industry because you
never know when youíre going to be working!
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