Q & A with Vanessa Marano, Star of ‘Switched at Birth’

SWITCHED AT BIRTH - Vanessa Marano stars as Bay Kennish

Vanessa Marano started acting in the theater when she was seven years old, performing in numerous plays working her way up starring in several national commercials. Vanessa is most recognized for her roles as April, the daughter of Luke in the highly popular show, “Gilmore Girls” and for the role of Francesca, the daughter of the Emmy® Award-winning Lisa Kudrow, in the HBO Original series “The Comeback.” Other credits include: “Scoundrels”, “Dexter”, “Without a Trace,” “Trust Me” and “The Young and The Restless.” Her guest-starring credits include “Parenthood,” “Medium,” “Love Bites,” “Ghost Whisperer,” “Past Lives,” “Six Feet Under,” “Malcolm in the Middle” and “Grounded for Life.” Her ties with Disney began when she provided some background voices for the animated hit, “Finding Nemo,” which also marked her job in film.

I was able to chat with Marano about her new ABC Family Original Series “Switched at Birth”. She plays the role of Bay Kennish, a privileged, eccentric young woman who finds out that, as a newborn, she was switched with another baby. While she’s lived a charmed life with the family she thought was her own, the real baby Kennish grew up in a working-class, single-parent household. “Switched at Birth” is a one-hour drama that tells the story of two teenage girls who discover they were accidentally switched as newborns in the hospital.

Aljon: What was it like acting at such a young age. How did you handle all the scrutiny and the let downs?

Vanessa: Because I started so young, I didn’t fully grasp the whole rejection thing. I never thought – ‘What’s wrong with me? What’s wrong with my performance? Why don’t they like me?’  That never crossed my mind. Instead, I just thought, ‘I’m going to an audition. And even if I don’t know what that is, I get to say lines and it’s cool.

Aljon: Did you always know you wanted to be an actor?

Vanessa: Oh yeah. I’ve been fortunate that I knew what I wanted to do when I was eight. Not many people know what they want to do even when they’re 30 and I’m so fortunate that I figured it out and have been able to learn so much and have so much experience in the business.

Aljon: Can you spill some details about your new show Switched at Birth?

Vanessa: My character does this school project where the students get their blood tested and discovers that her blood differs from her parents. She also gets the shocker that the other girl who was raised in her birth family is deaf. There is also the whole dynamic of the two families economic background and the ‘what if’ questions that surround the whole situation.

Aljon: Have you talked family about this, like how would you feel if it happened to you?

Vanessa Marano: That’s a question that we’ve all been getting and everyone has been asking. Kind of the consensus with everyone has been, from a kid point of view it’s an interesting question to ask, but from a parent point of view I still wouldn’t feel any differently about the child that I raised which is a great point about our show. The genetic bond between you doesn’t necessarily mean more than the bond than the person that you’ve grown with.

Aljon: Is it ever addressed that you don’t look like your mother, father and brother?

Vanessa Marano: Well, the story starts out with you meeting the Kennish’s and Toby and Catherine look exactly alike and John who’s the father has dark hair, but his coloring is not as extreme as my coloring. There’s some Italian on Catherine’s side of the family, somewhere in there, and so it’s not so far stretched out that we all couldn’t be related. It’s believable enough. What gets us going more is that our personalities are all very different and I’m completely drawn to art and being stubborn and difficult very unlike my mother who’s stubborn, but not very difficult. She’s like, ‘Okay, everybody be happy.’ Then the biggest reason why it doesn’t seem right is that my character does a blood test in science because they’re all finding out what their blood type is in their science class and it turns out that her blood type could never match her parents. It’s not even so much the coloring or the personality difference. The only reason that she feels compelled to seek this further is that there is factual information that she just happens to find out that she could never be related to her parents.

Aljon: Was there something about the project that you were really drawn to?

Vanessa Marano : What I really enjoy about Bay is that she’s very different than myself, very different than other characters that I’ve played and she’s not exactly the easiest character to play. She’s very difficult. She’s very spirited. She doesn’t get along with people well, and so it’s been really interesting finding bits of myself to put into her, finding likable points to her. I’ve been using comedy a lot with Bay because I think she’s handling the switch worse than anyone else.

Aljon: What’s the storyline that you’re most excited about seeing play out on screen?

Vanessa Marano : The hospital won’t admit that they made a mistake. They’re focus is trying to get that apology and the truth that the hospital made a mistake so that it’s not on their shoulders and they can stop feeling guilty that they didn’t know and that maybe it was something that they did even if there was no possible way it could be something that you did.

Aljon: Do you have any pointers you’d like to share to up-and-coming actors?

Vanessa: Do theater as much as is humanly possible. because it’s not worth getting into unless you absolutely love it.

Switched at Birth premieres on ABC Family on Monday, June 6 at 9:00PM ET/PT, following an all-new episode of “The Secret Life of the American Teenager.”

For more details about Switched at Birth visit http://abcfamily.go.com/shows/switched-at-birth

Hunt for the Switched at Birth code and WIN HERE.

Interview made in partnership with Sorcerer Radio’s WDW Tiki Room and Chip and Company.


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