Katie Leclerc returns to ABC Family tonight, reprising her role as Daphne Vasquez in the season 4 summer premiere of Switched at Birth. We chatted with her about Daphne’s evolution as a character and whether Daphne and Bay are Switchters or Swisters. Read on for our interview with Katie Leclerc!
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?
Katie Leclerc: I agree, the heart of the show has always been Bay and Daphne, and when Daphne had her downward spiral, her family really jumped in and saved the day for Daphne in a huge way. I think Daphne is still feeling guilt from that, and sometimes guilt is bad and sometimes guilt is a huge motivator. So for Daphne, having so much at stake and having her family really risk their livelihood for her, it puts her in a place where she is highly motivated for school and to become a doctor. Her pre-med quest is really fueled by the love of her family and the fact that she doesn’t want to disappoint them again. Pre-med’s super-hard regardless of whether you’re deaf or not, so for Daphne, I think, the big challenge this season and the way that Bay and Daphne’s relationship changes is Daphne comes to the realization that she can do it and it’s going to be a struggle, but she’s always got Bay there supporting her and always behind her.
I rewatched the pilot episode a little while ago, and Daphne has evolved in a lot of ways over the course of four years. What would you say has been the biggest change for her?
I think there’s been some pretty large changes for her. I was about to say “switches,” but I guess that wouldn’t really apply! I think when she had her food truck and she and Travis were robbed, I think that was an incredibly life-changing experience for her. She’s become more guarded and more protective, and also seen the damage that the evil in this world can do. I think before that, she grew up maybe in a rough neighborhood, but she was never part of the violence. So, I think that was a huge thing, but then also, having that person return and having her treat that person based on a doctor’s code, I think that was really full-circle for her in a big way. It created the space for her to have the confidence to do the job regardless of what was in front of her.
In a similar way, I would say when Sharee’s mom stabbed the head doctor at the clinic, [Dr. Jackson], and [Daphne] punctured the lungs so the air could get into his lung, I think that was also a really big shift for her. It’s another example of just, you know, whether you’re deaf or hearing, there are challenges and you can’t let your own challenges get in the way of what has to be done. Daphne’s really realized that over the course of the four years. She’s never been one to back down, ever. That’s one of my favorite things about this character. She’s strong in every single way possible. I think as she grows, that really becomes solidified in her and her confidence gets even stronger.
Overall, do you think Daphne’s a better person now than when we first met her?
Interesting question! I think she’s a little bit more rounded and she really has grown. I’m excited for fans to see what this season brings and I’m excited to see what happens after this season. This season, we’re dealing with Bay and her loss, and Daphne’s really exploring all of the ways that she can be supportive to her family in the ways that they have to her in the past. This season is really difficult for Bay and for the rest of the family, and it’s time for Daphne to step up and be the cheerleader that the family really needs. It should be really fun. One of the other things I love about our show is that we never shy away from a hard subject. You know, Bay’s character with the Title IX incident and all of those things along the way, cochlear implants… and our creator, Lizzy [Weiss], is never afraid to bring up a tough topic. This season has that in spades. It’s incredibly tough what the family is about to go through and it’s very real. I personally have friends of my family who have had similar experiences and I think that it’s your reaction to the problem that really sets the course of how you’re going to be able to deal with it. I wish I could tell you more!
You recently took a poll on Instagram about whether Daphne and Bay are Switchters or Swisters. What was the overall consensus?
See, it’s a struggle for me. I think there are more [fans in favor of] Swisters than there are Switchsters. The problem lies in the fact that Vanessa and I call ourselves Switchsters and always have, but I think the fans vote Swisters. But Vanessa and I, who are the Switchsters, are voting Switchsters. It’s very complicated. I don’t know what to do about it because I feel like, well, I could give up my belief, but if anybody has a thought, it should probably be Vanessa and I. Or maybe even Lizzy [Weiss]. That’s what it is; Lizzy’s got to be the tie-breaker!
Check out our interview with Vanessa Marano, Katie’s co-star, and tune in to ABC Family tonight at 8/7c for the summer premiere of Switched at Birth!