Switched at Birth
is a story about two teens who find out that they were, well,
switched at birth when the hospital sent them home with the wrong
family. Katie Leclerc plays Daphne, a deaf teen who makes
viewers extremely jealous of her wits, bravery, and ability to deal
with life-altering events. Along with that, her bubbly, happy
personality on the show intrigued us to think ďWhat is Katie really
like?Ē Not shockingly, when we had the opportunity to speak with
her, we found out the Katie is just as amazing as
she is on the show.
Katie Leclerc was born on November 6, 1986 in San Antonio, Texas and
raised in Lakewood Colorado. Growing up she studied ASL (American
Sign Language) as a second language. Little did she know that she
would need it one day for her life and her career, because a
This is a degenerative inner ear disorder that causes hearing loss
and vertigo. So far, this has not had major effects on her acting.
When you watch the young Leclerc play the role as Daphne Vasquez on ABC
Family's Switched at Birth, it's hard to believe that her
acting career broke through in 2005. Her beautiful, contagious smile
easily lights up a room, and her terrific acting can bring you to
tears. At 25, it is safe to say that she has reached her dream, and
judging by her talent and energy, it's unlikely she will be going anywhere anytime
You deal with some discrimination on the show due to being deaf.
Ironically enough some of it came from Chef Jeff, who you are
getting very friendly with now. Have you had to deal with
situations similar to that in real life, and, if so, how do you go
about doing that?
I was bullied quite severely when I was in middle school. So much
so that my family, in fact, moved from Colorado to California. I
think that I am trying to advocate as much as possible for the
anti-bully movement. Kids are just [being] mean and itís so
unnecessary. If I can speak to a kid who is being bullied, I would
just say find an ally. Go talk to an adult. Itís the hardest
thing. I know itís the hardest thing to open up. You feel exposed.
You feel vulnerable. But you really just need someone on your
side. I just want to spread that message as much as possible. Iím
grateful for ABC Family and Switched at Birth for the
opportunity for that platform.
I would say watching
Switched at Birth has definitely has opened peopleís eyes as to
dealing with being deaf or being hearing impaired or any type of
bullying for that matter. It just helps us understand.
Absolutely. The other thing is Switched shows the character
of Travis, who is really bullied by his parents, ultimately. They
donít have any relationship, any sort of connection. So I just
think itís important to find an adult who you can really connect
According to our information you have a hearing impairment. Is that
Yes it is. I have something called MťniŤre's disease.
This show seems to be the only show thatís dealing with the deaf
community in a large way. Do you think Hollywood is being a little
bit slow with representing the deaf community as a whole?
Well, I think that in the past if we saw a deaf character in a
mainstream way it could be a one-off character, like a one episode
thing. Marlee Matlin obviously paved the way for deaf actors in a
large way and also that show Private Eye in years past. The
actors who work on Switched at Birth, the people who work on
Switched at Birth, are just excited for the opportunity to
really pave the way in showing the deaf community in a large way. I
think that Switched at Birth does it right. They do it with
tact. They do it honestly, and they are really good about their
facts, and so I think the deaf community is just really appreciative
to have a show that represents them accurately and well.
What kind of feedback have you gotten from fans about the show and
particularly about your betrayals?
You know all the feedback that weíve received has just been so
overwhelmingly positive. When I read the pilot for Switched
I knew that we had something special, but it has blossomed into
something that Iím really proud. Itís something to be proud of and
the fans are so appreciative and they are so positive. Itís just
been really, really cool to have a Twitter, for example, and be able
to stay connected with fans. I love seeing things on Twitter like
ďmy cousin is deaf and because of Switched at Birth Iíve
learned some sign language and now I have a relationship with him.Ē
That is so cool to me. Or people who say, ďBecause of Switched
at Birth I want to master in sign language and psychology so I
can be a deaf psychologist or an interpreter or an ASL teacher.Ē Or
in any way I think that we are opening peopleís eyes in a large way
and itís really cool.
How has your hearing impairment either helped or hindered your
career as an actress?
I would say that the one thing that Switched at Birth has
really been proud in teaching is that [a] deaf [person] can do
everything that a hearing person can. For me, my hearing loss is a
little bit strange. My problem is the hearing fluctuations.
Sometimes I can hear okay, sometimes I canít. It can be an
obstacle, but I surround myself with people who are loving and
understanding. In my career and my professional life I think that I
am eligible for pretty much every role. I feel like I can take on
anything so I feel like it really hasnít hindered me other than I
have to be patient with myself.
What ordinary everyday challenges do you face because of your
Well, like I said sometimes I can hear okay, sometimes I canít. The
other problem with MťniŤre's Disease is pressure in the ear and
ringing in the ear and thereís also a touch of vertigo so I canít go
to the rollercoaster parks and scream on top of the wild rides with
all my friends, but itís really not so bad. I just try to stay
positive. My sister has MťniŤre's Disease as well so she sets a
really good example for me, and Iím just thankful for it because
without the MťniŤre's Disease I wouldnít have the opportunity to
play Daphne, so itís ultimately not so bad.
What drew you to the part of Daphne?
I think that Switched at Birth has this incredible
opportunity to really bring a deaf character in to an audience at
home on a weekly basis. I think we have a tendency to be afraid of
something that weíre unfamiliar with and the hearing world and the
deaf world are so separate right now. I think that Switched at
Birth does an incredible job of bridging the gap between the two
worlds. Daphne is just this light embodiment of happiness and
whatever obstacle gets thrown her way she handles it with grace and
tries to always do the right thing. Iím really proud that
Switched at Birth is a family show ultimately. Thereís not a
ton of promiscuousness and we try to do the right thing for the most
part. Thereís no shortage of drama, donít get me wrong, but I think
itís a family show. Iím just really proud of Switched at Birth
and I get to work with great actors, and it just really is a dream
How hard was it to learn to speak with the impediment for the part
It was quite difficult actually. I was lucky enough to learn sign
language when I was in high school so the sign language part was
sort of tucked under my belt and I was pretty confident there. But
I went in to the first audition without an accent. We talked about
putting an accent on and [the show creator] Lizzy [Weiss] and I
talked about whether I could do it and do it respectfully, and so I
did a lot of research. I had been involved with the deaf community
for many years so I was familiar with it, I watched a lot of
documentaries, my sister and Ióas I mentioned, she has MťniŤre's s
Disease. Sheís also an ASL teacher so sheís been involved with the
deaf culture for quite some time. We sat down with an audiogram and
mapped out Daphneís specific hearing loss, then showed sounds that
based on that hearing loss she might be able to say or not say, so
like a lot of sounds become Bs. I made my family crazy for weeks
because I only spoke in the accent and had to get it perfect, and I
think it paid off.
Youíve been acting for a while now. Youíve played characters from
Annie in high school to Veronica Mars and some commercials
sprinkled in there since your career has started. What has been
your favorite type of role to play?
The favorite role Iíve ever played is Daphne, hands down. Itís the
most challenging role Iíve ever played. To speak two languages at
the same time and speak with an accent, itís a lot to juggle in your
mind, but what doesnít kill you makes you stronger. I look back on
the first episodes of Switched at Birth and I feel like we
have collectively just gotten so gelled together. Weíre really a
team and I feel so grateful to work with such talented actors, and I
think itís really elevated me and I feel like Iíve only gotten
stronger. I look forward to doing that and keeping that up and itís
Now I think youíve made about 30 episodes roughly.
Yes on 30 and 20 to go.
If you could look back your characterís evolved an awful lot and
could you tell usówhat would you say was the most challenging scene
youíve had play so far? Itís a hard question isnít it?
It is a hard question. There's a scene in the finale episode airing
Monday, October 22 with Regina, and we are butting heads, and it's a
really emotional scene. Itís really, really powerful and itís
really strong, and it stands out to me as one of those experiences.
A lot of times I really like those heavy, dramatic, yelling,
lots-of-emotions scenes. You know, it's sort of cathartic. But
that day, I just remember feeling like how much I love Constance
Marie as a person, as an actress, as a woman, and as a role model.
I love her, and having this scene with her was really very hard for
me. There's also another scene that stands out, on a lighter note,
where I have to eat crickets, and it was really hard! I had to eat
two crickets each take and Justin and I are sitting there and Iím
doing okay. I have like three under my belt and thereís probably
ten more takes that we have to do, and Iím doing okay. Justin looks
at me and he goes, ďLook itís just a legĒ and he sticks out his
tongue and thereís this huge leg on his tongue and I couldnít do it
anymore. He ruined me. He wrecked it for me because Iím okay and
then he just destroyed me. It was really hard to do the rest of
What would you say is your favorite scene? Like what was the most
fun to shoot?
My favorite scenes are the ones where everybody is in them like D.W.
[Moffett] and Constance [Marie] and Lea [Thompson] and Ivonne [Coll]
whoís the grandma and itís like the big party scenes. They take
forever to shoot plus all the coverage and stuff like that and plus
weíre all giggly and happy, and itís a blast. We have a lot of fun
but yeah those areóI canít even pick one out because theyíre just
all so much fun to shoot. Maybe the family portrait sceneówhen
Emmett was taking a family picture. That one was really fun. David
[Paymer] was the director of that episode and so heís just calling
out random poses for us to do, that was a blast.
You and Vanessa [Marano] seem to have like really great chemistry in your
interviews but you donít always get along so well on the show. Do
you think that because you guys get along so well it makes it easier
for you to have intense and angry scenes with her, or do you think
it makes it harder?
I think itís easier. As soon as they call "cut" we start laughing at
each other, and we have to get back in to character but for the most
part thereís only been one moment where we couldnít get back in to
character. It was just a giggle fest and it took a solid probably
20 minutes for us to get the take that we could move on from because
we just kept breaking character. Itís in the finale. We throw each
other a look and every time we looked at each other, like I would
have to look at a specific part of her mouth so that I wouldnít
laugh. And she would have to look at a specific part of my nose so
that weóyou know we couldnít look each other in the eye because it
would just be a problem.
With such a large cast are there any special challenges you have to
endure on that set?
Well, I think everybody has a lot of personalities on our show and
so itís fun when we all get meshed together, and I think the
challenge is that we want to see each other and we end up spending
extra hours on set. Constance will just hang out in her trailer or
Iíll hang out in my trailer so I can see Vanessa for a little bit.
Itís a good environment up there and I think we try to handle things
in stride and stay positive, but thereís reallyómaybe the commute.
People donít like the commute.
Are there any actors that you have a special rapport with?
Probably Vanessa. We bonded over the fear that the other one might
be less cool than they are. We anticipated having to spend lots and
lots of time together, and so we were like, ďOh man, I hope she
doesnít suck.Ē And after we found that out from each other it was
just sort of easy going. It was easy peezy and she comes over. We
have what we call family dinner night. Sheíll come over, and weíll
watch reality television, my boyfriend, her, me, and our roommate,
and the dog, of course, because heís part of the family dinner.
Itís just a good time. We do it as often as we can.
Is it like a mom and dad on the set then for you guys?
Itís weird because there are four moms and dads, and theyíre
allóitís just as confusing as the show but I feel like from the very
beginning Constance took me under her wing and at the very first
press [junket] Ö where thereís 15 outlets youíre just super
intuitive and super scared. Constance just took my hand and was
like letís do this, and set a really good example for me. And Lea
has just been so loving and nurturing and sheís so much like her
character Kathryn and just receives everyone with open arms, and
Marlee as well. I just look up to these women and I think that they
are such wonderful people.
So there is a lot of drama on the show between the families and
between friends and with relationships. Daphne deals with it so
well. Are you like Daphne in that sense when it comes to coping
with drama and fighting with people you care about?
I think everybody wants to be like Daphne or maybe everybody wants
to be like Toby. Toby is really level headed. But yeah I think in
a crisis youíve just got to try to keep your head and plan as much
as you can and I donít know.
So who would you like to see Daphne get hooked up with?
I donít know. Daphne is so strong and sheís pretty much a force to
be reckoned with so I think sheís pretty [well] matched with Chef
Jeff. I think heís a very confident man and I think she sees a lot
of things that she looks for in him, but I donít know. Ultimately I
think that sheís going to find somebody but I donít know if we know
Daphne and Emmett seem to be a perfect match so where do you see
their relationship going and do you think thereís a possibility of
them two hooking up?
I think that Daphne and Emmett are perfectly matched for each
other. They have a wonderful friendship and an incredible
understanding of what the other has gone through. Emmett saved her
basically. Theyíve gone through so much. I think they are like
brother and sister quite a bit. I know that DaphneóI think Daphne
sees him in a different way after the incident with Simone. She
understands what he is going through, and definitely has forgiven
him but I donít know. I think that thereís always potential for
romance and true love and Daphne definitely has love for Emmett in
her heart, but I think thatóme personally, Katie, Iím a fan of Ö is
Emmett, if you will.
How did you react when you found out Daphne was going to get
romantic with Chef Jeff and whatís your off-screen relationship like
First of all, I think that ABC Family does a great job of casting
eye candy, and I couldnít have been happier to enjoy scenes with
Justin Bruening. Heís an excellent actor. He is such a doll and
heís so much fun off screen. Itís a little bit odd to go from
talking about family and just normal everyday life to making out
with him, but I was excited for the opportunity to share some
on-screen time with him. I was a little bit nervous about the
storyline, but I think that as long as you show there are
consequences to every action and this relationship could be
considered promiscuous and so I think that as the finale episode
comes there are a lot of things that are exposed and thereís always
How would you describe their relationship and where you think itís
Well, I think Daphne has very high hopes for it and Daphne wants it
to continue and Chef Jeff is kind of on the same page, so as long as
the obstacles donít get in their way, they would be optimistic about
Your TV dad Gilles Marini is doing real good on
Dancing with the Stars. Have you been watching it and what do you
think of his skills?
Oh, I think Gilles is the best. I think Dancing with the Stars
in general is really, really fun. My mom is a huge fan of
Dancing with the Stars and so actually this week she came to Los
Angeles and on Monday we got to go to a live taping. We saw him do
a new thing and his face is so dramatic and his movements are so
graceful. I just think Gilles is a great guy and I think heís a
wonderful dancer. Yeah, Iím Team Gilles all the way.
According to our information youíve expressed interest in being a
Dancing with the Stars. Do you still want to do that?
It was crazy because when we were there I got to see all the dancers
up close, and I looked down and these poor girls. Their toes are
all taped together and their ankles are just hurting. They just
look like itís so painful, and I think it would be really, really
fun. It seems like itís a lot of work but as long as it worked out
with scheduling and stuff I donít know. I think it would be really
fun but we would have to see.
Is there any other ABC or Disney affiliated show that youíd like to
Thatís a good question. Well, I know that my mom wants me to be on
Dancing with the Stars. Sheís a big fan of that. I think I
want to be on The Neighbors and the reason I want to be on
The Neighbors is because some of our crew from Switched at
Birth got stolen by The Neighbors so I want to work with
the crew from The Neighbors.
Are there any characters in the future that you would really like to
I think I just want to keep working. I love the opportunity that
Switched has given me to kind of springboard into a career, and
I just donít want to stop. I love work. I would love to play some
sort of really awesome action hero cool gal, chick, lady and kicking
butt and taking names. I think that would be really cool, but yeah
just anything. I want to work with Judd Apatow one day. I want to
work with Christopher Nolan someday. I donít have big aspirations
or anything. I just want to work with everyone.
I actually was tipped off by my friend Sean Hemeon that youíre doing
a show with him and actually a lot of really awesome peopleóMy
Iím curious, what can you tell us about that?
I am really excited about My Synthesized Life. I think the
script is super funny. Itís about a guy who magically gets this
voice change so he talks in auto-tune when he gets nervous, and so I
run across this character at a spoken word contest sort of
environment, and my character is a poet, and a little bit
boy-crazy. I think the script is really funny, and I'm super
pleased to be a part of it.
And your dog Gus makes an appearance in your little promo video you
made, and Iím asking a hard hitting question. Iím sure all your
fans want to hear about Gus.
I hope so, Gus is my favorite! Gus is actually deaf, which is
crazy, and we didn't know that when we got him. We taught him sign
language, so he knows about 20 signs. He can sit, and lay down, and
eat, and we're proud parents.
I understand last year in the Disney Christmas Parade you were a
part of that.
I was yes.
Can you tell me what you were doing there?
Yeah. I signed along with "Oh Holy Night" and Sean Berdy and I were
there, and it was actually really nice because we filmed it a little
bit in advance and so we filmed it on my birthday. I got to spend
the day at Disneyland and the morning wasóit was just so much fun.
It wasbeautiful, and itís a little bit funny to see everybody in
Christmas hats and Santa Claus gear on November 6th but it was fun.
It was really nice.
Whatís your favorite Disney character?
The Little Mermaid Ariel.
Favorite Disney park?
Disneyland, hands down. My family grew up doing that every chance
we could so itís the happiest place on earth for sure.
Have you visited any other ones?
I have yes. Iíve been to Epcot and Magic Kingdom and California
Adventure and Iím a big Disney fan so I just think Disneyland is the
first and the best.
Thatís great. All right, favorite Disney ride?
Indiana Jones. I remember the summer it came out my family made a
special trip to Disneyland from Colorado so it was a long ride. The
part where the boulder comes down and it looks like itís going to
come at you I really thought it was real and I was screaming bloody
murder. Like I thought I was going to die. It was terrifying.
Oh, thatís good. All right, how about a favorite Disney food?
Okay so at Disneyland they have the Blue Bayou [Restaurant] and my
familyóevery time we had to get the Monte Cristo. It was always a
Monte Cristo sandwich.
What is your favorite Disney movie?
Well, actually itís not The Little Mermaid. I wouldnít say
itís The Little Mermaid. My favorite Disney movie would have
to be maybe The Incredibles. I donít know. There are so
many good ones. Iím a really big Pixar fan so if itís Disney Pixar
Iíd do The Incredibles or if itís straight Disney maybe
Beauty and the Beast. I donít know. Aladdin. Itíd be
Aladdin, thatís the one. Itís Aladdin.
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