Vanessa Marano returns to ABC Family as Bay Kennish in the season 4 summer premiere of Switched at Birth. We chatted with her about the ongoing Bemmett saga, Bay’s evolution as a character, and what to expect from the second half of season 4.
We’re very excited that Switched at Birth is finally returning! It’s coming back a bit later this year, so it’s been a long wait.
Vanessa Marano: I know, it has!
The heart of the show has always been the relationship between the blended family, especially Bay and Daphne. How do we see that develop and change in the second half of the season?
I would say they’re at a point now where they’re family. Nothing is going to tear them apart, especially after Bay made such a huge sacrifice for Daphne last season – those two are thick as thieves. They are sisters at this point in time, and I think this season shows how much they are there for each other and how much that relationship is only going to continue. It’s crazy to me to think of how jealous Bay was of Daphne and how upset she was about finding out about the switch, to where they are now: They’re Switchters, they’re friends, they’re family.
The big mystery about Monday’s episode is that someone’s pregnant… but we don’t know who. Can you talk about how the news is going to affect everyone?
The pregnancy is going to affect everyone in the sense that the character who is pregnant is a family member… ish. I mean, the families are involved – it’s not just a side character. It’s not like we’re teasing that somebody’s pregnant and then it’s Kathryn Kennish’s friend from next-door. Everyone’s so focused on [the question of] who’s pregnant, but the end of the first episode takes such a turn that the pregnancy becomes a whole other storyline unto itself.
At this point, the saga of Bay and Emmett really is a saga – they’ve had a lot of problems over the years, but they’ve also been in each other’s lives in various capacities for a long time now. How does Bay deal with what’s going on with them right now?
Oh, she’s not handling it well. Bay is a mess. The first episode back, she’s more of a mess than I’ve ever seen her. She’s gone through sexual assault, her father dying, finding out that she was switched at birth, and I would argue that actually she handled those situations in a healthy way – she never bottled anything up, she just expressed it – but this is like, devastation central. It is just such a sad place for her. On the flip side of that, I feel like all the audience members who are such Bay and Emmett fans are also mourning heavily, so we can mourn together! Bay’s there to mourn with you!
As you mentioned, Bay has been through a lot this season and in the series as a whole. Are things going to calm down for her a bit or is the road ahead still looking pretty rocky?
I think things do calm down in the sense that no big, life-changing moments happen to her, but at the same time, I think she’s still reeling from the life-changing moments that have already happened to her. The assault doesn’t just go away – she’ll be dealing with the repercussions of that for the rest of her life. Her breakup with Emmett, that doesn’t just go away – she’s still in love with him, even though it’s not right for them to be together right now. Angelo dying also doesn’t go away. This season, she also has to come to terms with the fact that she lost so much time with him. [Season 4B] is really about Bay coming into her own. The beginning of season 4 was really about Bay giving up things for other people: Bay was going to move to California to be with Emmett, Bay took the fall for Daphne and did the community service. [Season 4B] is about Bay taking back her life, essentially, and doing things for her.
I rewatched the pilot episode not too long ago, and Bay has really changed in a lot of ways since then.
Hasn’t she changed a lot? It’s crazy. I think it’s awesome and cool. You seldom get to do that with a character – drastically change them over the course of four years. It’s funny to me because she was always a character – and still is a character – who takes two steps forward and one step back, but I think that’s what people like about her. She’s very flawed. She’s not perfect, but she has such good intentions. To think of where she started off, when she was this spoiled little self-centered, rebellious-for-the-sake-of-rebellion rich girl, to where she is now, which is so giving and will do anything for her friends and for her family, it’s funny to me. I would never have thought that character in the pilot would be the character that Bay is now.
What would you say is the main way that Bay has evolved since 2011?
I think she’s not as self-centered. In the pilot, she was very much “Oh my God, this is how this is affecting me” and now she’s very much about how things affect other people even before herself. She still is super-emotional. Bay was never one to hide her emotions, she just wore them on her sleeve and told people how she felt and told people her opinion, and she’s kept that quality, which I think is amazing, but now it’s for the sake of and for the good of other people, as opposed to serving her own self.
She’s definitely still the same person, but I think she’s a better version of who she was.
Exactly. As you grow in general from being 15 years old to 20 years old, you’re not the same person, whether it’s for the good or for the bad, and thankfully she changed for the better.
Season 4B of Switched at Birth premieres this Monday at 8/7c on ABC Family!