Vanessa Marano currently stars as Bay Kennish in the hit ABC Family drama series Switched at Birth. Vanessa has earned herself several Teen Choice Award nominations for her work in the role and has earned every single one of them. The groundbreaking series was the highest premiere on the network to date and is rightfully gaining recognition and awards while exceeding expectations with viewers.
Switched at Birth will be entering the second half of season 3 this June and and we caught up with Vanessa to talk about what fans and viewers can expect when the series returns. We talk about what’s next for Bay, Emmett, the families, and Vanessa’s work with Cruelty Free International.
Read on for our interview with Vanessa Marano:
Pop City Life: How does it feel to consistently be recognized and part of a program that has been an outstanding achievement in television?
Vanessa Marano: Awesome! It’s something that you don’t necessarily expect coming into a show about family and a show about teenage girls. It’s not a genre that actually gets recognized and honored in the way that Switched has been honored, so it’s such an amazing feeling. It’s so great because you feel like you’re doing something that people really enjoy, and it’s really resonating with people. That doesn’t come around very often, so we’re enjoying every minute of that.
Pop City Life: You work with a fantastic cast on the show and last season we saw the addition of some great guest stars. Will we be seeing any other familiar faces in the new episodes?
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. I’m not sure that I can reveal too much about who’s coming on, but we love our guest stars! We’re a big fan of guest stars on Switched at Birth.
(It was recently revealed that Vanessa’s sister, Laura Marano, will be guest starring this season.)
Pop City Life: Could you talk a little about your work with Cruelty Free International for those who may be unfamiliar?
Vanessa: I’m not a vegetarian or anything like that, but I can’t stand the idea of animals not being treated properly. There’s something so terrible about the fact that we take advantage of creatures who can’t 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 it’s 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 don’t involve hurting an animal.
Also revealed on the conference call:
How excited were you when Switched at Birth was renewed for a new season?
Vanessa: You know, it’s so funny; I’ve been doing this for a very long time so I go into everything very cynically; like, “Alright, well, let’s see if we’re coming back.” We never know. But Switched at Birth is the first show I’ve ever been on that’s generated such a positive strong audience response. We’ve got incredible support from our viewers, specifically, the deaf community.
There’s an amount of confidence there knowing that we have an audience rooting for us and wanting us to come back, so that was nice. What’s 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 that’s kind of nice to have a break and then also know that your job is coming back!
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. We’ve covered the deaf community. We’ve 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 Reeve Foundation.
And they’ve 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 it’s unbelievable. So that tugged at my heartstrings a little bit.
This coming season, it gets very emotional; and there’s a particular episode, in the middle of the season, that I found very relatable. I think everyone’s going to find relatable. I can’t give you too much information about that. All I can say is that it was a very emotional episode for everyone involved, and everyone’s experienced it.
Vanessa: I think Bay and Emmett fans are going to be very happy this summer. But of course, it’s Bay and Emmett, so they’re not without their trials and tribulations. It’s a relationship that I think all the fans have been waiting to see, revisited and brought back to life. Now that they’re finally there, it’s not without its struggle. You can’t 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 there’s a little bit of a mess right now, but they’re together. They’re in the mess together.
How does Bay address her new relationship with Emmett to her current boyfriend Tank?
Vanessa: Bay has been cheated on. She’s 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 doesn’t know what she wants to do, but she knows what the right thing to do is. So she’s being pulled into two different directions as far as her knowing she doesn’t 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 triangle.
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 that—that 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 season.
Vanessa: It’s a particularly difficult season for Daphne. She’s very nervous about her mother’s safety now that she’s 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 don’t know if that’s going to go according to plan, but again, does it ever go according to plan?
What’s 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 I’m sure as all the teenagers who watch the show know that’s a very stressful time when you’re 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 she’s applying to art colleges and that’s where she’s at right now. It’s a very scary process because you just don’t know what’s going to end up happening.
What is in store for the families this season?
Vanessa: As always, they’re together and have each other’s back. That’s not without their conflicts because the Vasquez/Sorrento clan is very different than the Kennish clan. We’re reeling from Toby’s divorce, so everyone’s trying to get him back up on his feet; as well as Bay feeling whether or not it’s the right time to tell everyone that her and Emmett have rekindled an old flame. As always, there’s Regina’s safety at this point in time just because the project that she’s 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. It’s a matter of taking care of her as well. No matter what’s going on in their lives, they always have each other’s back.
What has been the most challenging storyline you’ve 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 you’re in love with someone who’s cheated on you — because I have my own opinion about cheating, which is that you don’t go back to the person — but Bay obviously went back to him. So that’s a very challenging thing for me to portray. You throw in trying to sign all of that when you’re angry, when you’re sad, when you’re happy, and all the rants that she could be going on because she’s at so many different emotional levels of the whole thing, it gets very challenging. But at the same time, that’s some of my favorite stuff to do because I like being challenged when I’m performing.
What’s one piece of advice you would personally give to Bay?
Vanessa: Think things through! Girlfriend doesn’t 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. It’s funny because I think that’s 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, everything’s 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.
We’d like to thank Vanessa Marano for taking the time to answer some questions for us!
Be sure to tune in to season 3B of Switched at Birth when it returns on June 16th at 8/7c on ABC Family!