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Interview

Spotlight On: Katie Leclerc, ’Switched at Birth’

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Spotlight On: Katie Leclerc, ’Switched at Birth’

Katie Leclerc’s sister once compared an acting career to a gambling addiction. But when it pays off, it really pays off, and Leclerc is earning respect in Hollywood and in the deaf community for her portrayal of Daphne Vasquez on ABC Family’s “Switched at Birth.” 

On unexpected skills.
“I learned sign language when I was 17 because I had to have a foreign language to graduate and I was pretty terrible at Spanish. I had a moment of weakness right before I got ‘Switched at Birth’: I gave up on acting and I moved back to San Antonio. I didn’t really have any friends, so I joined a deaf club and had to basically relearn sign language. I would go home and I would sign to myself so that I could get the sign language down before I looked like a fool in front of my new friends, and I realize now that I was making the sounds and learning the accent.” 

On a positive attitude.
“I think of Ménière’s disease as a blessing. My hearing could drop out at any time, but for the most part my symptoms are very manageable. There have been a couple instances on set where I get dizzy or something like that. Then everybody comes to action and I take an anti-nausea thing so I don’t look like I’m going to vomit on camera, and we move on with our day.” 

On versatility.
“I’m a believer in more is better. I’d like to do more parts where I get to use my normal speaking voice; even in the Hallmark movie [‘The Confession’], I had a German accent. I think people don’t even know what my voice sounds like!”

On acting challenges.
“ ‘Switched at Birth’ is the most challenging job that I have ever had. To learn your lines and do everything that an actor does (find your lights, remember your mark, remember your continuity with your props), put sign language on top of that and then an accent on top of that so you’re speaking two languages at the same time in an accent while you’re finding your light and remembering your continuity and remembering your lines!

On persevering.
“I arrived at my friend in San Diego’s house with $12 in my bank account. I acted for about a year and then a casting director friend of mine got the re-boot of the Power Rangers franchise. I was like, ‘OK, I’m going to start learning martial arts now because I’m obviously going to get this Power Rangers role that shoots in New Zealand and it’s going to be amazing!” I got screen tested for Power Rangers and I didn’t get it. ‘Switched at Birth’ was the next audition.” 

On being patient.
“My habit is creativity and I love the habit, but it doesn’t always pan out the way that you think it will. You just have to be patient and let it play out and trust that you have the chops and you have what it takes when you walk into an audition. Just because one thing doesn’t play out doesn’t mean that that’s where you’re supposed to be. I could not imagine my life if I was in New Zealand right now.” 


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