Exclusive Interview with Switched at Birth’s Vanessa Marano


Vanessa Marano currently stars on ABC Family’s hit drama Switched at Birth. Season 4 resumes this Monday at 8/7c pm. Read our interview with Vanessa below. We discuss musical theater, Emmett, and what’s in store for Bay when the show returns!

Follow Switched at Birth on Twitter and Instagram.

Follow Vanessa on Twitter and Instagram.


“Talk Nerdy With Us! I love a good pun! It makes me very happy.”

What do you nerd out over?

“Musical theater. Theater in general actually. I love plays, too but I feel like musical theater is just the nerdy aspect of theater. People enjoy plays, people don’t usually nerd out over plays. I nerd out over plays, but I don’t feel a sense of community in the people who nerd out over plays as much as I feel a sense of community in the people who nerd out over musical theater.”

What musical do you nerd out about the most?

“It really can vary from day-to-day. I’m a big fan of Ragtime and Avenue Q. I love Next to Normal. If I’m going to get real classic with it, I have a love for My Fair Lady. Wicked, obviously is like one that combines all of them. There’s a little unknown musical called The Last Five Years that me and my friend Megan both love. I’m a geek. I’m a geek with the musical theater thing. [Laughs].”

Let’s talk about Switched at Birth! Last season was very rough for Bay. How long in advance did you know about the Bay and Tank story line?

“I mean, not too far in advance. That being said, probably an episode before that episode actually happened. It was the first time the creator of our show has ever told me anything in advance, so I was happy about that. I think Max Adler actually knew sooner than I did. I think he knew ahead of time more than I did.”

Did you have any input in it at all?

“No, not really. We just get the scripts and then that’s really…You get the written word and then you interpret it the way you interpret it. I feel that was the same way with this story line. I think what’s great about that story line too is that it doesn’t require a lot of input because there’s not supposed to be a clear answer. It’s supposed to be very messy.

We don’t know who’s in the right or who’s in the wrong. It is kind of terrifying to play a story like that. To play a story that doesn’t have a strong point of view is frightening beyond all words because you risk not actually making a point with your story. I think this one resonated so well with people because of the fact that it was unclear.”

How did you prepare for that? Knowing Bay might have been in the right, or might not have been?

“The thing is, because it is so unclear and she is unclear about it herself, you have to stay in that gray area of what she doesn’t know. If anything it was kind of easy to prepare in that sense because she has no idea if she did something wrong or if she was taken advantage of. That’s something that’s going to haunt her for the rest of her life. She has to come to terms and accept that. In the back of her head she’ll never truly know.”

Since it will never leave Bay, is it like playing a new character this season? This event has obviously changed her. 

“Oh absolutely. I feel Bay is almost a new character even without that aspect. I mean, she changed so much from the pilot to where she is now. At the end of the day, regardless of sexual assault, regardless of being switched at birth, you are who you are, and Bay still is who she is. No matter what’s going to come her way, she’s the same person she’s always been. But, things that happen to you in life definitely change you, sometimes for the worse, sometimes for the better. Thankfully I think Bay has taken a lot of these experiences and grown into a more evolved human being.”

As Vanessa, are you team Bay and Emmett?

“No, because I think they’re such a dysfunctional couple on the show. I mean, honestly. [Laughs]. She moves to California for him, and then he wants to hook up with this other girl. I think what people love so much about them is that there’s this destiny aspect about them. He’s deaf, she’s hearing, yet somehow they’re able to understand each other and make it work. That’s beautiful and romantic. But when they’re actually together they just end up hurting each other which is terrible.”

Who do you think Bay should be with?

“That’s hard. I don’t know if we’ve met the guy that Bay needs to be with. There’s something I love about Bay and Ty because it’s almost like, that’s the relationship that she would have been in had she not been switched at birth. They would’ve grown up next door to each other and something would’ve brought them together.

I also love Bay and Tank together because they were so different and weird and cute and unfortunately that relationship ended because Bay wasn’t in love with Tank the way Tank was in love with her, and then obviously it got way messier down the line.

Bay and Emmett have something really special too in the sense that he’s changed her for the better in a lot of ways. I don’t know. I don’t necessarily think that we have met the person that Bay is going to end up with.”

Bay and Skye obviously don’t get along on-screen but what’s your relationship like off-screen with Alice?

“I really like Alice. I’ve unfortunately not had too many chances to work with her. I’ve only worked with her on that one episode. I sat with her through five sign language lessons and she’s super cool so that’s great. She also comes from musical theater so she’s obviously freaking out with me.”

Do you have a new favorite sign? One you’ve recently learned?

“Oh gosh. I always learn signs and I know this question’s going to get asked of me. I’m always like, I’ll remember that one, remember that, you love that sign! I always space out when the question is asked. [Laughs]. It’s funny because Bay says a lot of the same signs over and over again, a lot of, no that’s my boyfriend. Or like, no we’ll figure this out, we’ll be fine. She never gets any cool ones like mosquito which is Katie’s favorite sign, which is super involved.”

What can we expect from Bay this season?

“Well, she’s a mess in the beginning. A hot, hot, hot mess. I think this season is really about Bay taking back her life. She did a lot of things for other people at the beginning of Season 4. She wanted to move to California for Emmett, she took the fall for Daphne. This season is like her taking back her life and doing things for her.”

It’s about time!


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