'Switched at Birth' star Constance Marie talks about the show

Constance Marie shares her love for ABC Family's new show 'Switched at Birth.' Marie plays the mother of one of the girls who was switched at birth.

Kathy Hutchins/Newscom
'Switched at Birth' stars Lea Thompson, Vanessa Marano, Marlee Matlin, Katie Leclerc and Constance Marie pose at the Disney ABC Television Group May Press Junket on May 14.

Feeling like she has won the lottery and handed her dream job on a gold platter, Constance Marie is not only SWITCHED AT BIRTH’s biggest cheerleader, she is also genuinely happy to be a part of such an extraordinary ensemble. She portrays Regina Vasquez, mother of one of the switched-at-birth daughters, Daphne. (Delightfully portrayed by Katie Leclerc, whose interview can be read HERE.) Not only does Regina have her own disability being a recovered alcoholic, but also her daughter Daphne is deaf. Despite these challenges, Regina and Daphne have one of the most balanced, mutually respectful mother-daughter relationships on television.

Commenting on how well-received the show has been with viewers and fans, Constance gushed, “I always knew it was a beautiful show. A recovered alcoholic who learned sign language to communicate with her daughter – beautiful!” Sharing a bit of her own personal perspective, she also revealed, “My own daughter was an IVF (in-vitro fertilization) baby, so I had the thought of: ‘What if I had the wrong baby?’” The thought is enough to make any parent tear-up at the thought of it. It is every parent’s worst nightmare.

In addition, Constance could relate to the issues concerning her character’s daughter Daphne, who became deaf as a toddler. She explained, “When they were testing my baby’s hearing, one of her ears had no signal. Fortunately, the next day they were able to get the signal. But I had that thought of ‘What if my baby couldn’t hear in one ear?’ So, when I read the script, I understood Regina and how she would think. It’s that whole nature vs. nurture, and how would you react?”

SWITCHED AT BIRTH is a family show that carefully weaves together a whole host of thorny parental concerns, but in a much more light-hearted and loving way than one would expect. In fact, the entire show seems infused with warmth and love. Just basking in that kind of positive environment has been a blessing for Constance. She has embraced the overall theme, the difficult issues and best of all, her new television family.

Constance has even embraced learning a new language to make the role more real. In fact, that is her favorite part, learning sign language. To prepare for her role as Regina she undertook the task of learning ASL (American Sign Language). She said, “I had three weeks [of training] before the pilot and two weeks before we started filming to learn as much sign language as I could. They offered to do the shoots without my hands in them so it wouldn’t show that I didn’t know how to sign, but I didn’t want that. I wanted to learn to sign. The studio even sent a master certified instructor to my house so I could learn.” In addition, it gave her not only a way to communicate with some of her co-stars, but it also gave her an appreciation of the beautiful language as well. She shared, “I’ve learned so much and appreciate the deaf community so much more now.”

When asked what would be the one word to describe Regina, Constance did not even hesitate and said, “Tough!” She then added, “She is a survivor.” She really admires that about her character explaining, “She doesn’t let obstacles stand in her way – and she works twice as hard.”

As for what lies on the road ahead for Regina and whether she continues to accept and handle the revelation that her biological daughter was switched-at-birth, Constance could only cautiously say, “I still get chills when I think about what we’re doing. We’re the only show on television with talking and signing. Yet, in the U.S., the 3 most popular languages are English, Spanish and ASL.”

Then while it has been announced that Gilles Marini will be guest starring on the show as Angelo, the birth father of Bay — the other switched-at-birth daughter — Constance would only laughingly admit that she cannot yet comment on how his presence will impact the lives of Regina, Daphne and Bay – or any potential romantic love-triangle that may be brewing on the horizon after Regina’s agreement to have dinner with Denise’s ex-husband Bruce.

What Constance could talk about was the fun wardrobe that Regina wears on the show. She enthusiastically shared, “Julia is our costume designer and she is wonderful! We are able to have a lot of input into our wardrobes. Like, for Regina, since she is a hairdresser, I wanted to go hip and contemporary. So Julia came up with color blocking, putting lavender with coral.” Constance also noted that because Regina is the opposite of Catherine Kennish, Bay’s mother, and more rebellious, she thought it was nice that the clothes reflected those divergent personality traits as well.

Reflecting back over the season so far and all its magical moments, the one that stood out the most to Constance was when the entire cast and crew learned sign language so they could sing “Happy Birthday” to one of cast. She happily recalled, “We were all united in signing it to him. It was beautiful — it was a hybrid between the hearing and the deaf!”

Finally, when asked what she could tease about the rest of the season, Constance playfully emphasized, “We may be a family show, but we have ‘man candy’ and Regina will have some ‘man candy!’”

All teasing aside, SWITCHED AT BIRTH is a charming show about two families attempting to reconcile a terrible tragedy by melding their lives together and getting to know and appreciate each other. It is not just about making the best of it, but to truly embracing and loving each other. It is humorous, awkward, and endearing.

If you have not yet discovered this remarkable show, be sure to tune in on Monday nights at 9:00PM on ABC Family.

Tiffany Vogt blogs at The TV Addict.


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