Switched at Birth was the first of its kind when it premiered in the summer of 2011. Each new season of the spunky Freeform drama brought new conversations, ones that would not only drive the story, but also force viewers to understand the importance of the issues these characters were dealing with. During its five seasons, the series featured storylines of sexual assault, crime, disabilities, alcoholism, and self-discovery. While at first glance Switched at Birth may have seemed like an ooey gooey teen show, it was quite the opposite, and if you ever watched for yourself you knew that to be true.
Katie Leclerc’s thoughtful and captivating portrayal of Daphne Vasquez was something that elevated Switched at Birth for many seasons. She shined as a quick-witted, tough, and hearing impaired young woman. Her character perfectly complimented her counterpart, Bay, portrayed by the crazy talented Vanessa Marano. Leclerc’s performance took the show from teen drama to one of Freeform’s most unique and respected series, along with the help of her talented costars, of course.
The TV Junkies had the privilege of speaking with Leclerc about her time on the series, Daphne’s growth and what we can look forward to as this ground-breaking series reaches its final chapter on Tuesday night at 9:01 p.m. on Freeform.
The TV Junkies: What drew you to want to play Daphne in the first place? Looking back did you ever think that you would get to play her for five seasons and over 100 episodes?
Katie Leclerc: We are the little show that could! I just love Daphne! I loved the idea that she just got this crazy news and embraced this other family. I feel like a lot of other people in that situation would have reacted in sort of a way that Bay was like ‘What is this?’ While Daphne was like, ‘Oh more family! More people to love! More people to be included in our lives! Absolutely, let’s move forward with that.’ Both reactions are understandable, but I just loved that hers came from such a genuine place of acceptance and openness and the idea that she is differently abled but it’s not ever an obstacle that she can’t overcome is something that I think is really cool.
TTVJ: Daphne has really grown over the years. She tends to have a sort of optimistic view towards things, I know in the beginning she was a bit timid with the new school and everything going on. How do you think she’s grown over the years?
KL: She is strong and fierce and not going to take no for an answer, and she’s not afraid to tell you why she is going to be able to achieve what she does. She’s just really confident and I love that confidence and I think It’s something that I can use in my life.
TTVJ: Along with Daphne and Bay, I think the show did a really great job with emphasizing the supporting characters. I think they did a great job with Travis’s (Ryan Lane) assault and Toby (Lucas Grabeel) getting married and starting a family. Aside from Daphne and Bay, which storyline really stuck out to you as one of your favorites?
KL: I do love the Toby and Lily (Rachel Shenton) storyline with baby Carlton so much. It comes full circle from Toby coming from a family that has a sister who is differently-abled and being exposed to this way of life and culture and knowing that what is an obstacle isn’t an ending. With that being said, if you’re going to have a baby, of course you want that baby to be as healthy as possible and have as many opportunities and less obstacles as possible. The way that Toby and Lily have embraced their role as parents and the challenges that come with that has been really cool!
TTVJ: It seems like with a lot of her storylines that the writers really put Daphne through the ringer. What storyline challenged you the most as an actor?
KL: I think when Daphne went off the rails when Angelo died, that was a cool way for me to explore Daphne and just to see how tragedy changes a person and when you lose the people you’re close to, to see the way you grieve. I think that was a really cool storyline, but honestly some of my favorite things that Switched at Birth does, in general, are the special one-off episodes. The dance episode, the all silent episode, in terms of acting and performance I loved the what if episode. I loved the idea of like nature vs nurture. The same girl who ultimately shouldn’t be very different, and how money changed her and she is a little bit stuck up and snobby, but there is still elements of the Daphne we still love but with this new twist. It was really cool!
TTVJ: Through watching interviews it’s clear you and Vanessa have a great relationship, but how was it for you guys as actors to start off the show where Bay and Daphne didn’t really get along and then slowly they developed this sisterhood?
KL: We always liked when Bay and Daphne were fighting because that meant Vanessa and I had more scenes together. [Laughs] It was a different sort of way to look at it. I feel like fighting scenes are really fun as an actor, you’re like AHHH! If you’re mad at traffic on the way to work you get to take it out on the other person in the scene. It’s cool when at the end of the series Bay and Daphne are happy with each other and have these full lives that are supportive of each other, but a little separate from each other. But from the beginning Vanessa and I loved each other and really embraced those arguing scenes.
TTVJ: The finale is really great and really sort of set the tone for Daphne to move forward and into the next phase of her education. Over the course of five years we’ve gotten to really know her, but where do you think her life is five years from now?
KL: She would be graduating med school. I see her taking another wild trip, I don’t necessary know where, but I just feel like she’s that person who is going to be cultured and going to be exposed to as many different things that this life has to offer as possible. But still driven and achieving her goals. Five-year plan: She’s graduated and about to take a sweet around the world trip that probably does some good around the world as well. Ten-year plan: She’s definitely got a private practice that services deaf families, and probably ends up with Mingo, (Adam Hagenbuch) I don’t know. Not necessarily has to but I just love their relationship as well.
TTVJ: What can you tease us about the series finale? Are you happy with how it ended?
KL: I absolutely love how it ended, I really do. I think that shows benefit from knowing it’s the final episode and I love that Freeform gave us 90 minutes to tell our final chapter. It’s sweet and nostalgic and sad and joyful and at times makes you angry. I feel like it’s really got all the feels and as a fan of the show, it’s the finale that I would have wanted.
TTVJ: What has been your favorite part about working on Switched at Birth?
KL: For sure the cast has been my favorite part about working with this show! We were very quickly like the Vasquez’s and Kennish’s. We just embraced it and said, ‘We’re going to do this show as long as anyone will let us keep it on the air.’ And we got really lucky that we made it to 100 episodes, but I love those people so much and in a heartbeat would do a reunion with them. I love them!
What has been your favorite storyline on Switched at Birth? Are you sad to see it end? Let us know below!
The series finale of Switched at Birth airs Tuesday at 9:01 p.m. ET on Freeform.
Victoria loves all things TV! Whether it's binging Grey's Anatomy (for the 4th time) or talking Orphan Black plot lines with her Professors, she's fully in love with the medium. Victoria loves television so much that she is studying it at Monmouth University. If you love hearing long rants about why Luke and Lorelai are meant for each other you should follow Victoria on twitter @VictoriaNelli.