ABC Family SWITCHED AT BIRTH: Constance Marie & Katie Leclerec Interview

switched at birth
In addition to Marlee Matlin and Lea Thompson & Vanessa Marano, Constance Marie & Katie Leclerec, who play mother/daughter Regina and Daphne Vasquez respectively, also recently took some time to talk about ABC Family’s new series SWITCHED AT BIRTH.

The new series, which focuses of two families finding out their babies had been switched at birth by the hospital, premieres on Monday June 6th at 9pm. Find out what Constance Marie and Katie Leclerec had to say about it.

What character do you play on this show?

Constance Marie: We play mother and daughter. She plays the character Daphne which is my daughter. I play Regina, her mother, although we are not biological mother and daughter. The two characters, the lead characters, were switched at birth. Not separated, but switched at birth. That means that they’re technically not related. And they were raised by different mothers and when they are fifteen years old they find out through a high school experiment that they are not the biological children of the parents that they have grown up with for the last fifteen, sixteen years.

Katie Leclerc: Then the two families move in together. We move in to their guest house to get to know each other.

Constance Marie:And the families just kind of have to see how they adjust and see how everyone can get along and become one family. The best part of this I really think is that it’s anchored in the familial relationships and how someone would act and relate when they realize that a child that they have loved and nurtured all these years is not theirs. They have to instead of doing the whole legal drama get to know the child that they don’t know, that is technically biologically theirs and what they would do and how much love from a mother to a daughter.

I think this would be so relatable to everybody just because it’s about family and how important family is to you and what it’s like when you discover that you have a brother that you never knew about and the child that you have loved and nurtured technically isn’t your own.

Katie Leclerc: But you’re still that persons mother.

Constance Marie: Yes. That love doesn’t go away. We get to deal with ethnic issues which obviously we’re not the same ethnicity. We get to deal with sociological issues, like one family is more affluent and the other is more working class. We have a single parent versus a dual parent relationship. It deals with a lot of different kinds of family. It has so much heart and love and it doesn’t suck. I know. I’ve been in some shows that have sucked, but I’ve been in some good ones, too. But seriously it’s a beautiful show. We were just talking about this because I read the script and I cried when I read it.

Katie Leclerc: The stories that they tell are just so strong and so beautiful and something that you can really get behind and watch as a family.

Do you think it’s representative of society today?

Constance Marie: Totally. There’s no more ‘Father Knows Best’ family. That does exist maybe somewhere. Not on my block, but it really deals with the many kinds of family and is one family less loving than another family? No matter what color you are, how much money you make or where you live, you think about your mom and you could cry. You think about your dad and you can cry. It’s so important. We also have the aspect of the deafness. That for me, being the character that goes from the hearing community and the deaf community, it’s unbelievably educational and it’s a beautiful language.

Katie Leclerc: It’s an amazing language. It’s beautiful. It’s emotional and the show makes sense. My character, Daphne, is never a victim. She’s just a product of her environment and she flourishes. That’s thanks to her wonderful upbringing.

Did you already know that language?

Katie Leclerc: I did. I took sign language in high school and then when I was twenty I found out that I was diagnosed with Meniere’s disease. So I’m very fortunate in that I will be able to communicate for the rest of my life.

How is Marlee Matlin’s character related to yours?

Constance Marie: She’s my best friend and the best part for my character is that I had to play a woman who has been signing for twelve years of her life and I didn’t know anything. Cut to sign language boot camp and a tutor and heating my arm and icing my arm. It’s like dancing with the stars for your arm. It’s amazing. Because I was a dancer it was sort of easy for me, or well, not easy, but I had a way to go there, being able to bridge the hearing world, the signing world, the deaf world is amazing.

Katie Leclerc: It’s a great representation of the deaf community and I think it’ll be very strong for the deaf world to have this show and for the hearing community to see that it’s really not that different.

Constance Marie: And how cool would it be to be able to tell a secret to your mom or your friend from across the room about someone and nobody knows. I could sign to Marlee Matlin from across this room and she would know exactly what I’m talking about.

Katie Leclerc: A lot of the crew members are learning sign language.

Constance Marie: It’s infectious. The cool thing was that don’t need to know sign language, but they’re going, ‘This means ready? Later?’ Everybody has their own sign. It’s beautiful.

Was there any controversy about casting a hearing actress as a deaf character?

Katie Leclerc: As I said I have Meniere’s disease and so part of the symptoms of that is fluctuating hearing loss. So, sometimes I hear okay and sometimes I don’t. I’m technically hard of hearing.

Can you talk about working with D. W. Moffett?

Constance Marie: The hot and un-charming D. W. Moffett. [Laughs] Well, I don’t know how he does it, but he is so grounded and earthy. No effort at all and he’s hilariously funny. He’s so good. It’s funny because this is such an estrogen driven show. I’ve never been on a show where the women are so important. We don’t trip and fall down and someone has to come rescue us. We’re like the heroes of the show. So, D. W. is sort of like our man candy which is not bad.

Did either of you talk to your families about how you would feel or deal with this scenario in real life?

Constance Marie: Well, it’s no secret that I struggled with infertility for three and a half years and my daughter was an IVF baby and she was actually frozen for two months. It’s not that far of a leap for me to go, ‘What if they pulled out the wrong tube? What if she was not mine,’ and I could start crying right now because I don’t care if she wasn’t biologically mine. She’s mine. So, what would you do if you found out at fifteen, at fifteen or sixteen years that your daughter was not yours? But they are. So, that struggle in itself provides so much drama for this show. So, yeah, it’s not a big leap for me to have to take.

Katie Leclerc: It changes nothing. Your mom is always your mom and she’ll always be there.

Constance Marie: Whether she’s adopted, biological or whatever. I think that’s why this show is so important because it really brings all that into question.

Can you tease what’s happening in the upcoming episodes?

Constance Marie: We have many secrets. It is ABC Family. They like to have spins and certain things going on. I’m not allowed to give away any secrets, but people will not be disappointed.

Katie Leclerc: There’s always something going on.

Constance Marie: There’s always drama. There’s always twists and turns and they’re real twists and turns. It’s not like, ‘Oh, I’m a twin.’ It won’t be that. It won’t, right? There’s a level of integrity to this show that’s just beautiful and funny and dramatic. It’s got it all.