ABC Family has cast Academy Award (R)-winner Marlee Matlin (“West Wing,” “The L Word,” “Children of a Lesser God”) in a guest-starring role, and elevated newcomer Sean Berdy to a series regular in “Switched at Birth,” a new one-hour scripted drama that will premiere on the network this summer.
“I’m so proud to be a part of this show,” said Matlin. “It’s incredibly inspiring to see a television drama embrace a storyline that portrays diverse families from both the hearing and the deaf and hard of hearing worlds. And as a young aspiring actor who was given the opportunity to pursue the craft I love, I applaud ABC Family’s commitment to casting from both communities.”
“Switched at Birth” tells the story of two teenage girls who discover they were accidentally switched as newborns in the hospital. Bay Kennish (Vanessa Marano) grew up in a wealthy family with two parents (Lea Thompson, D.W. Moffett) and a brother (Josh Grabel), while Daphne Vasquez (Katie Leclerc), who lost her hearing at an early age due to a case of meningitis, grew up with her single mother, Regina (Constance Marie), in a working-class neighborhood. Things come to a dramatic head when both families meet and struggle to learn how to live together for the sake of the girls.
Matlin, who will appear as a guest star throughout several episodes, will portray Melody, the mother to Emmett (Berdy) and best friend to Regina. Berdy, a deaf actor, portrays Emmett, Daphne’s best friend from school. His role has been elevated from the pilot to series regular. Katie Leclerc, a hard-of-hearing actress, portrays the role of Daphne.