After five incredible, emotional seasons, Switched at Birth is saying goodbye this Tuesday, April 11th at 9pm on Freeform in the U.S. and ABC Spark in Canada. Katie Leclerc spoke with me about Daphne’s struggles this season and her journey on the series.
Daphne’s journey as a deaf person has always been fighting against discrimination. This season she kind of found herself on the other side of things for a while when she had trouble understanding the position of the black students on campus. Was that an interesting dynamic to explore for you?
I feel like Daphne is an advocate for people who have been wronged in whatever way that happens to manifest. She is not afraid of a fight and she will tell you how she feels about it, which I love about her. The sort of interesting thought about that is that Daphne is also a minority on her college campus. She has a disability, and she doesn’t see herself in that way but ultimately she is also a minority. So she fights this fight with the BSU, but I feel like she relates to it in a way that the show didn’t really necessarily touch on.
It’s something that she’d been through before but she was seeing it through a different perspective, which I found really interesting.
So did I, yeah. But she’s a fighter for sure.
She’s always striving to do the right thing but she always seems to find herself in these sticky situations where she’s making questionable choices. In the latest episode, she deliberately destroyed a drug sample (from Chris, the KMCU Baseball star who took steroids to heal from a shoulder injury caused by a police assault). Why do you think she keeps finding herself in these risky situations?
That’s a really interesting question. I think she just roots for the underdog no matter what. She really wants to see people succeed and excel, and she empathizes with people in a way that is sometimes in the grey area. She very often breaks the rules for the right reasons and in this most recent episode she does it — yes for the right reasons — but it’s a little bit less ‘stand up and be moral’. She’s going to do what she’s going to do because she’s going to help the people who she loves. That’s always been a truth for her from the beginning. She loves people and will do anything for them. It’s good to be on Daphne’s good side.
You’re coming to the end of her journey. Are you happy with where it ends?
I love the series finale of this show. I think that it’s just really cool to see characters come full circle, and to see their growth in a way that is sort of nostalgic and reminiscent. For me, this show is about family. At the end of the day your family are the people that you choose to make your family. And the Kennish-Vasquez family chose to include every single member of that family. The series is so great and has given a voice to people who had been underrepresented. It also has these great lessons to learn along the way. You learn them because the characters are flawed and you just root for them. I love the series finale. I love that it’s full circle. I love these characters, and I’m really sad to see it go.
So it’s hard to say goodbye?
Yeah, it’s hard to say goodbye, but I get to see the cast pretty regularly-ish, so that’s always really nice. I love Daphne. She’s just the coolest.
The relationship between Bay and Daphne is the heart of the series in many ways. They’ve had their ups and downs, but they got to a really good place just prior to their China adventure. What’s been your favourite part of the evolution of that bond?
My favourite part is probably just Vanessa [Marano] as a whole. That little feisty human being is a lifelong friend. We got each other. But with Bay and Daphne specifically I think they just support each other. They were meant to be sisters. I think it’s really cool from the first episode where Bay breaks into Daphne’s house, and they’re sitting there in the moonlight having this whispered conversation, to now where they’re out in the open taking on the world together. They are best friends and they are sisters, and they were always meant to be in each other’s lives.
I can’t think of another series that tackles so many difficult issues head on. This season alone there’s depression, disability — which is ongoing — sexual abuse, racism, steroids. There’s nothing that you guys won’t tackle. Was there something over the years that you felt was the most important, or a struggle that was closest to your heart?
Deaf people can drive (laughs). That was the first episode of Switched at Birth. There’s a lot of unintentional ignorance and if you don’t know somebody who is differently abled then you don’t always know how to react around them. And even Bay says it [this season] — people want to say the right things, people want to do the right things, they just don’t know how. And that’s okay. This show has been a window into this world that isn’t always exposed, and I think that there’s a lot of lessons to be taught while you’re being entertained. Ultimately I think my favourite issue that we’ve tackled is that everybody has something that makes them feel weird and it’s how you react to that that will determine your outcome.
Photos Courtesy of Freeform