GTN sits down with Academy Award winning actress Marlee Matlin to discuss her work on ABC Family’s Switched at Birth.
What is your favorite thing about your character on Switched at Birth?
My favorite thing about my character on Switched at Birth is the fact that she is completely and utterly fluent in American Sign Language, unfortunately in other roles I did not have the opportunity to communicate like she does. Now I can communicate freely and act as myself within my character and I don’t have to worry about how I’m speaking in terms of using my voice or whether or not I have an interpreter with me. It’s so great to be freed from that mechanism. She is certainly, in terms of philosophy, opposite from me but I think all in all it’s a fun role for me to play.
What does it mean for you to have an all sign language episode?
To be able to have an all signed episode of Switched at Birth, especially because of the fact this is the first time it’s ever been done on television, is amazing! It’s never been done before, there’s no sound, it’s just signing and subtitling, for anyone to participate in. I think it shows how far we’ve come in the entertainment business to be able to break ground with this episode. Lizzie Weiss, who is the executive producer, created Switched at Birth and I know that she’s hoping that after tonight writers, producers, directors and the powers that be in Hollywood, the networks, the cable and even the film world will understand that it’s possible to integrate deaf characters without having to do deaf story lines, without having to worry about how it works. Whatever show we’re talking about, whatever characters were taking about and to be more open minded about it. Deaf actors have come a long way and can now be a part of the main stream community; they can even be producers and directors. I think what it does is that it exposes the richness of the deaf culture and shows how vital it is in terms of the general main stream. People can finally have an opportunity to see that we exist, that we have a beautiful language and that we have a culture within the general culture.
You can see Marlee on Switched at Birth Mondays 8/7c on ABC Family.