Vanessa Marano stars as Bay Kennish on ABC Family's hit show Switched at Birth — the brave teen drama that highlights the real life issues families face every day. In between obsessively watching every single Switched episode, we had Vanessa stop by BuzzFeed NY to chat about the incredible series — from her difficulties learning sign language to her closest friend on set. Here's what happened.
1. Do you think Bemmet (Bay + Emmet) are OTP?
Vanessa Marano: I mean, that's kind of a rough question after this season. Everybody's gonna have to tune in! I mean I'm partial to "EBay" personally, so I'm boycotting the Bemmet thing 'cause that's what I feel their couple name should be.
2. Where do you see Bay's character in 10 years?
VM: I feel like she is probably hopefully going to be being paid to do artwork instead of conducting illegal activity, but you never know with that girl.
3. If you were Bay, would you have taken the fall for Daphne like she did?
VM: I think it was an idiotic move to take the fall for Daphne, but if it had been my little sister, I probably would've done the same thing (laughs).
4. How hard was it for you to learn ASL for the show?
VM: It was really hard for me to learn ASL. I did not do it fast. Everyone has been really nice, like everyone's super complimentary, like, "Oh my god, you picked it up so fast, you're doing so well." And I know they're just like babying me to make me feel better (laughs).
How long did it take?
VM: Um, I would argue that I'm still not fluent in ASL (laughs). I'm definitely better than where I was! I still can't fingerspell to save my life. I have a rule that I won't fingerspell something more than four letters. Jack, our ASL master, like, hates me for it. Because I can't spell in real life, so doing it with my fingers doesn't make it any easier.
5. What is it like to be part of a groundbreaking show for the Deaf community, and what kind of response have you received from them?
VM: It's super cool to be part of a show that's resonated with so many people. It's the first thing I've done that's actually spoken to a community in the way that Switched at Birth has, so it's really awesome. It makes me feel good. Like, I don't just go to work every day and feel guilty for loving my job and having fun when people have real jobs out there.
6. What have you learned about the Deaf community that you didn't know before being on the show?
VM: I've learned so much about the Deaf community! I knew nothing about the Deaf community before Switched at Birth. As far as, like, the cochlear implant debate, I knew nothing about that and how controversial it was. I didn't know that you refer to interpreters as interpreters rather than translators. I learned so much about the Deaf community — and how dirty sign language can be! Like, that's another thing. It's like the filthiest language in the entire world. Thank you, Marlee Matlin!
7. What did you think of the Bay/Tank rape storyline, and the importance of framing it as a rape?
VM: When I heard about the Bay/Tank storyline I was very skeptical. I was like, this is probably not gonna go over well. But I think it stirred up a lot of conversation, both positive and negative. And that's what's been so interesting about it is everybody has a different opinion on it, everybody has a different perspective. And there really isn't one clear point of view. Which is interesting, because a lot of television shows don't get to do that.
8. Who are you closest to on set?
VM: That's a really hard question, because we're all just disgustingly close with one another. But probably Katie, my Switched-er. Love that girl. We all hang out all the time. It's really, it's frightening.
9. Will we ever get to see Bay at college?
VM: That's a great question! Awefwojfihier. That is my answer.
10. What's your favorite pizza topping?
VM: I'm so boring. I just like cheese pizza. Because I'm 5.
11. What's the last book that you read?
12. Do you have a favorite word?
VM: That I use most often? Well, I probably say "like" most often because I'm from the Valley. But that's annoying and doesn't sound educated, so, vicissitude!
13. Do you have any cool or crazy fan stories?
VM: Constance and I went to go support Lea on Dancing With the Stars — unfortunately that was the same day she got voted off, so it was terrible. But Constance was trying to be proactive and was like, "I have this chair that I need to return to Baby Pottery Barn, so let's just go over to The Grove, which is right next door to DWTS, and return this chair." And it turned into this whole thing, there was, like, a label issue. And we were just like, whatever, we'll just get [our parking] validated. We couldn't get validated at Pottery Barn. No worries, we went to the Veggie Grill to go eat! We couldn't get validated at the Veggie Grill. We couldn't get validated anywhere! We went into the Barnes & Noble and they were like, "Nope, you're going to have to buy a book to get validated." We were like, this is ridiculous. We're just not gonna get our parking validated. We ran into two girls who were huge fans of the show, and they were like, "Can we get a picture with you?" And they had a bag from The Cheesecake Factory! So we were like, "Yes, we will take a picture with you, but can we walk back into The Cheesecake Factory with you and say that we were dining with you and we forgot to get our parking validated?" And they let us do that! And then we took a picture with them. Because we're sad, sad people.
14. Who was the last person who texted you?
VM: My publicist on the way over here. Before that it was my friend who is a boom operator who is working on a new show in Atlanta and was complaining about the weather, and before that it was my mother.
15. Who is your favorite Disney Princess?
VM: Belle, because she thought that she could change a man. And did, actually! It's a terrible message because it's not something that you can actually do. But whatever, fairy tale. She made it happen!
16. Who do you think is your doppelgänger?
VM: Well, my sister for one thing. The amount of times people have come up to me and been like, "I love Austin & Ally!" and I've been like, I do, too? I also get, like, "I love you on Pretty Little Liars!" and I'm not sure which one they're talking about. I would assume Lucy Hale — I don't personally think we look alike; she has blue eyes. But that's the only one. And I'm like, do they like me on Switched at Birth but they think it's called Pretty Little Liars?
17. What's the best thing you've ever gotten to keep from set?
VM: On Switched, Katie and I both took squirrels. Because Kathryn Kennish has like a weird squirrel thing, and so there's all these squirrels all over set, and there were these two squirrels that we wanted to keep (laughs) so we took two ceramic squirrels. It's not weird.
18. Do you have a hidden talent?
VM: Um, we make these jokes at Switched at Birth all the time because they discovered that I literally can't do ANYTHING. Like, they write in things and I can't do it. Things like, I don't know, anything athletic. Can't do that. They wrote in me riding a bicycle, which I thought I could do, I was under the impression I could do, and then I ran into our boom operator. They literally are just like, "Why can't you do anything?" And I'm like, 'cause I'm a child actor and I can only walk and talk and hit a mark, sooo, sadly, that is probably my only talent (laughs).
19. What's your favorite reality show?
VM: I mean, how can you pick between any of the Housewives franchises? But with that being said, Vanderpump Rules is a gem that I feel everyone should be watching. Ugh, it's so good!
20. Who's your favorite Housewife?
It's a toss-up probably between Bethenny Frankel and Lisa Vanderpump.
21. Do you have a celebrity crush?
VM: I mean, from his deep blue, perfect eyes, Matt Bomer. And from his hilarity, Jon Stewart.
22. What's your biggest pet peeve?
VM: People who you've met before who reintroduce themselves. Ugh, that one gets me. And I am not nice about it. I'm totally the person who's like, "No, I know, we've met before." And my sister always kicks me like, "Stop, why do you have to do that? Just, like, do the thing." And I'm like, "No, because we've met before! And they know it."