Katie LeClerc - Switched at Birth Star

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You may recognize Katie LeClerc as Daphne Vasquez in the ABC Family drama Switched at Birth. Katie is hard of hearing and has Meniere's disease. As the show's title indicates, her character was switched at birth with another baby. At birth, her character could hear, but as a toddler, Daphne lost her hearing to meningitis. On the show, Katie frequently interacts with Marlee Matlin, another actress who is deaf and plays the mother of Daphne's friend Emmett.

The role on Switched at Birth is not Katie's first acting performance, but it is the one getting her the most attention. While she started out her acting career as a young student in the play "Annie," her acting resume is much more comprehensive today. In addition to ABC Family, Katie has appeared on shows on CBS, CW, FX, and Comedy Central. After Annie, Katie appeared in more plays at two local theatres. For example, she has appeared in the play "Brighton Beach Memoirs."

While her co-star Sean Berdy ("Emmett") has quite a following, so does Katie. Her Twitter account has more than 20,000 followers. The Facebook page is less popular, with only about 1,000 "friends." Another place on Facebook to find news about Katie is the Switched at Birth page.

Katie learned sign language in high school. She did not have hearing aids until her participation in a film project that involved getting a hearing test, revealed that she needed hearing aids.

According to an interview she did with Zap2It, she could not afford the hearing aids. ABC Family paid for the hearing aids. Ironically, in one Switched episode, Daphne lies about losing her hearing aids and claiming that her insurance would not replace them.

On Switched, her character uses sign language and also speaks.

Daphne is portrayed as a normal deaf teenager, who plays basketball and has romances. In real life, Katie is in a relationship, and the Meniere's disease makes life more difficult for her. She must cope with its symptoms that include attacks of vertigo (dizziness) and tinnitus. Another symptom is fluctuating hearing loss. The fluctuating hearing loss means that sometimes Katie can hear, other times she will not hear well. In an interview with WeLoveSoaps.Net, Katie explains how the Meniere's means she must limit how much salt she eats. Now and then her character Daphne is shown as coping with the challenges of deafness. Daphne attends a school for the deaf, and interacts frequently with hearing teenagers as well.

There are many videos with Katie on YouTube, including acting reels. The Freeform channel, formerly ABC Family channel, has posted captioned videos of Switched that include Katie. Searching YouTube.com for videos of Katie turn up many results, but not all of them are captioned. 

Now that Katie is a bona fide star, there are fan sites devoted to her. One of them is Katie-LeClerc.com. This site has news of upcoming LeClerc appearances, video, her twitter feed, and more.

She is frequently mentioned on Hollywood gossip sites.

The site devoted to young Hollywood, Just Jared Jr., has a tag for all content that mentions Katie. In one story on Just Jared Jr., co-star Vanessa Marano (who plays the other switched teen, Bay) says that Katie taught her sign language. In another story, she reports that her new puppy is deaf.

In 2011, Katie was nominated for (but didn't win) a Teen Choice Award as a Breakout Star. Hopefully after Switched ends, Katie will continue to have a satisfying career as an actress, and have a chance at other acting awards. Even if her Meniere's disease progresses (her older sister has more advanced Meniere's disease) it should not stop her from accomplishing all she is capable of accomplishing on a set.

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