Vanessa Marano is no stranger to tough storylines that started with her role in Gilmore Girls and now as Bay Kennish in Switched at Birth. With the 4th season Switched at Birth underway, Vanessa speaks to Composure about forging ahead with the exciting changes happening with her character in the show, as well as, her real-life involvement with the spinal research campaign Big Idea.
CM: You started acting at very young age – is it true that your mother purposely brought you to an agent who was most likely to turn kids down? What was it like to find out you were accepted?
VM: Yup. She did not want me in the industry at all. She is okay with it now; however, I will always have those memories of us driving to auditions in massive traffic and her saying, “you do not have to do this, we can turn around right now.” Of course my response was always, “nope, I do not want to turn around.” I was so excited.
CM: You already have an impressive roster of shows that you have acted in, such as Gilmore Girls, Without a Trace, and Dexter just to name a few. What are some of the most memorable experiences you had during those projects? What was the most challenging?
VM: Well, on Gilmore Girls the challenge was the seven-page scenes with massive amounts of fast-paced dialogue. On Dexter, the challenge was not getting completely captivated by John Lithgow in a scene and forgetting my line. On Without a Trace, the challenge was not getting distracted by my little sister Laura Marano. In fact, Without a Trace might be my favorite because I got to work with Laura.
CM: Switched at Birth is currently in its 4th season – can you tell us about your character Bay Kennish?
VM: Bay is never one to hide her emotions, she wear them on her sleeve and tells people how she feels and tells people her opinion. That being said, she never thinks anything through. She definitely doesn’t think before she speaks.
CM: How has Bay developed/changed throughout the show’s storyline?
VM: She changed a lot! It is crazy. I think it is awesome and cool. You seldom get to do that with a character – drastically change them over the course of four years. It is funny to me because she was always a character – and still is a character – who takes two steps forward and one step back, but I think that is what people like about her. She is very flawed. She is not perfect, but she has such good intentions. To think of where she started off, when she was this spoiled little self-centered, rebellious-for-the-sake-of-rebellion rich girl, to where she is now, which is so giving and will do anything for her friends and for her family, it is funny to me. I would never have thought that character in the pilot would be the character who Bay is now.
CM: With the show introducing tough topics like campus rape, how has this affected your role and you personally?
VM: That greatest thing about that storyline is that we do not know who is in the right or who is in the wrong. It is kind of terrifying to play a story like that. To play a story that does not have a strong point of view is frightening beyond all words because you risk not actually making a point with your story. It something that has changed the character of a Bay for the rest of her life, and I think it resonated so well with people because of the fact that it was unclear.
CM: If you were Bay in real life, what would be the one thing that’s on your mind right now?
VM: What on earth am I going to do with the rest of my life?
CM: Do you have other projects coming up?
VM: Actually, an exciting project coming up is not even one of my own. I work with the Christopher and Dana Reeve foundation and the recently had an unprecedented breakthrough in the search for a spinal injury cure. They took four young men and implanted them with something called an epidural stimulator at the bottom of their spines. They can now independently make movements as well as have bowel and bladder control, sexual function, and are able to regulate their temperature. It’s incredible! The campaign is called the Big Idea and the next phase of the research is to fund 36 participants to be studied and they are half way to their goal. I’m trying to spread the word as much as I can.
“Switched at Birth” airs Mondays 8/7c on ABC