RED Hearts: Q&A with Katie Leclerc

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RED Hearts are guests posts on I Heart Daily from the authors of RED: Teenage girls in America write on what fires up their lives today. Today's RED Hearts post is from Jordyn Turney, 21, in San Diego, CA, who talked to Switched at Birth star Katie Leclerc:

We love Switched at Birth, an ABC Family show with a great premise -- neatly conveyed right there in the title -- great characters and a great way of bringing deaf culture into the mainstream. At the forefront of it all is Daphne Vasquez, played by the talented actor Katie Leclerc.

Daphne is a hearing-impaired teenager whose life is turned upside down when she finds out that she's not really related to her hardworking (and often stubborn) single mother, and that her biological parents are the super-wealthy Kennishes. Here, Katie gives us her take on the groundbreaking show --and her connection to the fallible but refreshingly optimistic character she brings to life.

Jordyn Turney: How do you get into the mindset of a girl who discovers that she's not who she thought she was? Katie Leclerc: I think that teenagers always think, 'What if these people are not actually my family?' Identity issues and finding where you fit in and what that means in the bigger picture, that's something a lot of teens can relate to. At the end of the day, these characters still love each other and they're still family.

JT: It's rare for a show to portray deaf culture so well. Is there a sense of responsibility in portraying this very under-represented part of society? KL: Absolutely. When you go on Twitter and see "thank you Switched at Birth, for making me feel comfortable in my own skin," it opens more and more windows. I hope it creates conversations and breeds tolerance. I think people are afraid of what they don't know, and this show helps make things more familiar. I hope people watch it and feel like maybe the deaf and hearing worlds are not so different.

JT: How similar are you and Daphne? KL: I really like her, as real and flawed as she is. I played basketball when I was younger… and I've known ASL [American Sign Language] for a long time. When I was 20 I found out I had Méniere's disease and lost some of my hearing. So yeah, I really like her and I hope we're similar.

JT: In the spirit of I Heart Daily, what are you "hearting" right now? KL: I switched to the iPhone this weekend and I'm loving that. I just got a puppy, so of course I'm like totally obsessed with the little guy. He’s an Australian Shepherd, just as cute as can be. And I’m just loving wearing really comfy sandals and the rest of summer.

RED Hearts guest poster Jordyn Turney is an author of RED: Teenage girls in America write on what fires up their lives today, which is out in paperback.