Constance Marie is most known for her role as the
hard-working and devoted wife, Angie, in George Lopez. She
now stars as Regina Vasquez in ABC Family's Switched
At Birth, Daphne's hard-working single mom. Her whole
life is flipped on its head when it's discovered that her
biological daughter has grown up under an entirely unfamiliar
roof, while she's raised a baby not her own.
Check out this first look video of this new series, the Q
& A with Constance, and tune-in to all-new episodes of
Switched at Birth, on Mondays at 9/8c only on ABC Family!
Question: I know that you have been involved with the
whole green movement and everything behind that. How has that
actually played in to your life in terms of the new baby and
everything like that?
CM: Oh, my gosh, honey, can we talk? I mean, there
are many, many things that I realized when I was even trying
to get pregnant that impact the body, and impact body chemistry.
So, when it came to dealing with my baby, everything from
using cloth diapers to soaps with no sodium lauryl sulfate
in them, which supposedly causes cancer, and trying to keep
cut down on the plastic as much as possible; all organic food.
She hasnít had her vaccines yet. She is now two and a half;
she is going to start doing that. I mean, Iíve got like a
wheelbarrow of alternative information, if anybody wants to
Question: Let me ask you for the show itself, is there
anything special that you do green in that area?
CM: Well, itís a little bit crazy, and I think the
transportation department tells secrets about me behind my
back; but, I do have my own recycling bin set up inside my
trailer. Where all my paper, and Iím very proud of the production
because they recycle all their paper that they have. We have
bins all over the place for plastic bottles and stuff. A lot
of it is plastic; a lot of this stuff is disposable, so I
set up my own bin in my room and I have my paper, my plastic,
and I separate it and I keep it in there and every once in
a while the transportation fairy empties it for me as a hint
to get rid of it. Doing that, and one of the things that we
started in our makeup and hair room is we all bring our own
cup, so that way we donít use so much paper and plastic cups.
We have our own coffee. I donated a coffee machine; so that
way everybody can have fresh coffee without having to necessarily
go to Starbuckís. Itís a really good, good machine.
Question: What do you think is the single most important
thing that you want everybody to get from the show?
CM: Okay. I would have to say that the most important
thing about this show is, the most number one thing, is that
it literally teaches America and merges the hearing world
with the deaf community. Since the deaf community is fifteen
million strong, the fact that it merges those two seamlessly,
I think itís a huge gift to America. I really do; and thatís
one of the reasons Iím a part of it is because itís never
before have there been like three major leads on a show. You
know, in particular, my character, Regina, bridges the hearing
world and the deaf world just seamlessly. Of course, behind
the scenes Iím working my butt off learning sign language.
I would have to say thatís the single most important thing,
but then if you go into like the three other things behind
that is that it calls into question the nature versus nurture
question, the racial differences, cultural differences, socioeconomic
differences in families. How, no matter if youíre a single
parent family, a two-parent family, you have money, no money,
youíre Puerto Rican or youíre white, every bodyís got issues.
And how the conflict comes from that. I mean, I think thatís
amazing. It is just a melting pot of drama. Itís fabulous.
Question: How did you prepare for this role of working
in the deaf community?
CM: Oh my gosh; sign language boot camp. I didnít
know anything about it. I watched a tremendous amount of documentaries
and I have a wonderful masterís certified sign language teacher,
an ALS instructor who came and literally beat me into submission.
I say that in a loving way, but really, I had to hunker down
and essentially learn a language that I had no clue as to
anything about it. Itís so funny because in my Mommy and Me
group with my young baby, all the moms, every single mom,
taught their child sign language, except for me and of course,
Iím the one who ends up having to do a TV series where I have
to become fluent in sign language in a matter of weeks. Ironic.
Question: What do you hope people learn from the show?
CM: What do I hope they learn? Well, I hope they learn,
number one, that deaf people are just like everybody else
except they speak fabulously with their hands. I hope not
that they learn, but I hope they question as to what a family
really is and how it doesnít necessarily have to be like the
perfect mom and dad and 2.5 children, how families are completely
different, but yet, the love underneath that is the most important
thing however you skin that family cat.
Question: Regarding sign language, you said you went
through sign language boot camp, is there an interpreter on
the set with you?
CM: We have that same masterís certified sign language
instructor. We call him the signing police, but we love him.
He actually has to monitor all the sign language stuff. Iím
taught directly through him, and then we have Katie Leclerc,
who is fluent. She plays Daphne. And then we have Sean Berdy,
who plays Emmett, and heís fluent; and then we also have Marlee
Matlin, and sheís fluent; but everybody has different ways
of signing. So, itís like if we were doing a show in Texas
and we all had to have the same dialect, thatís essentially
what Anthony, his nameís Anthony Natale, the sign language
instructor, he monitors and makes sure that weíre all speaking
the same dialect so there is uniformity to all of it. So we
create this fabulous world in Kansas.
Sounds wonderful and as someone who has a sister who is a
sign language interpreter, I thank you for so positively representing
CM: Oh, thank you so much, and you know what? Please
tell her Iím doing the best I can. I will become fluent one
day; Iím just not there yet.
Question: Yes, she knows. She appreciates it. She watches
CM: Does she do anything in particular? Because one
of the things I donít think people realize is that it is a
huge muscle to learn how to use your arm like that. Does she
do anything, as far as like, to maintain, like putting it
in ice or heat packs? Because Iíve heard that interpreters,
when you are learning really intensely, you get pain and there
are ways to alleviate that pain. Does she do anything in particular,
or has she been doing it forever?
Question:Sheís been doing it for so long now
that itís just second nature to her right now. She was seventy
percent deaf when she was a little girl, and then she had
surgery for her hearing, and then she just was doing it and
she just kept on doing it ever since, and now she is actually
in Disney World working as a sign language interpreter for
CM: That is so cool! There canít be a better place
Question:Now that you are a mom how is that
relationship similar to the relationship you have each of
the young adults who play your children in Switched at Birth?
CM: Oh my gosh. I think Iím a little more Type A and
a little more bossy and a little more controlling and way
more mothering. I was always that way and people used to always
say to me, ďGod, Constance, youíll make a great mother some
day,Ē and I had no idea what they were talking about. But
it was that they just wanted me to back off from telling them
not to smoke and take a sweater and make sure that they eat
properly; but now I have a baby, you know and some of our
actors are young, I just do. Itís so funny. I just did a yoga
with Sean Berdy the other day. I invited him to my yoga class.
He is so sweet and it was funny because I felt so protective
and so mothering of him and I took him for ice cream. It was
Question: How does the the role of Regina is different
from, or similar to, the role of Marcella and Selena?
CM: Marcella, well first of all she was a real person,
and she was based upon Marcella Quintanilla, Selenaís mom.
Marcella was much more docile, and she worked everything kind
of behind the scenes, and she was much more laid back overtly,
but then kind of controlled things underneath. Marcella had
Abraham Quintanilla, the father, to be the bad cop and so
she could be good cop. Regina needs to be both; so she has
to be a lot more up front, a lot more in your face, and she
also is a recovering alcoholic, so she has that sort of disability,
I guess it would be. She has to do everything; itís all on
her shoulders. So sheís a lot more in your face and if I were
to like, I donít know, do a celebrity boxing match or celebrity
death match, Iíd put my money on Regina.
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