Vanessa Marano started acting in the theater when she was seven years old, performing in numerous plays at A.C.T. in Agoura Hills, California. She shortly began her professional career with several national commercials and magazine modeling campaigns.
Vanessa has now been nominated multiple times for a Teen Choice Award for her portrayal of Bay Kennish, the artistic and edgy daughter in the ABC Family Television Critics Award winning show, “Switched at Birth”. The series continues to be a huge success and has gone on to win multiple awards including the Peabody Award in 2013.
Apart from her current role on “Switched at Birth,” Marano is recognized for her roles as April, the daughter of Luke, in the highly popular “Gilmore Girls,” and as Francesca, the daughter of the Emmy® Award-winning Lisa Kudrow, in the HBO Original series “The Comeback.” In the past, she also starred in “Scoundrels” as the scheming, school-skipping daughter of Virginia Madsen. Her impressive resume includes recurring roles in shows including: “Dexter,” “Without a Trace,” “Medium,” “Trust Me” and “The Young and The Restless.” Guest-starring credits include “CSI”, “NCIS: New Orleans”, “Perception”, “Grey’s Anatomy”, “Private Practice”, “Parenthood,” “Medium,” “Love Bites,” “Ghost Whisperer,” “Past Lives,” “Six Feet Under,” “Malcolm in the Middle” and “Grounded for Life.”
In addition to her work on some of television’s most prominent series, Marano starred as a young girl who becomes a quadriplegic in the critically acclaimed television movie “The Brooke Ellison Story,” directed by Christopher Reeve, and worked with Lucy Liu on a miniseries playing the troubled foster teenager, Immy, in “Marry Me.” Her first film was the animated hit “Finding Nemo,” followed by the independent films “Easy,” “The Clique,” “Stopping Power,” “Dear Lemon Lima,” “The Secret Lives of Dorks”, “Senior Project,” and the edgy Lifetime movie “Restless Virgins,” based on the sex scandal that rocked renowned Massachusetts prep school, Milton Academy, in 2005.
Marano is proficient in American Sign Language, speaks Italian, and is currently enrolled in college, working around her work schedule. She is also an ambassador for the Christopher Reeve Foundation and supports Global Green and HSUS.
How did you get started acting?
I knew I wanted to act when I was six. My mom was a drama teacher. She was a professional actress and ended up being a drama teacher and opened her own theater, so I was always surrounded by it. I just saw my mom direct teenagers in plays and I thought, ‘That looks like fun’ so I begged my mom for two years and she said, ‘No it’s a horrible industry. I don’t want to turn into a stage mom. I don’t want to drive you around. It treats women really badly and you should have a childhood.’ And I said, ‘But I want to do it.’ So two years of that – that combative back and forth A friend of hers, who was a child actress, said to her, ‘You’re not being supportive of your daughter.’ So she said, ‘Okay. Fine.’ And she looked up agents and there was this one agency that crushes the souls of children and destroys their dreams and she was like, ‘Ah sweet!’ I go in and my mother, who is an acting teacher, does not help me prepare the dialogue. I go in and read for the agent, she calls my mother in and says, ‘I’ll take her.’ My five-year-old sister walks in and says, ‘Oh, I don’t have an agent.’ And the agent says, ‘Oh I’ll take that one too.’
Did you go to acting school?
My mom owns a Children’s Theatre that I pretty much grew up in.
How do you prepare for a role?
Memorize my lines.
Did your family support your decision to become an actor?
See the question two answers above.
Any of your family is on the business?
My little sister Laura is.
Tell us about your character in Switched At Birth? And do you feel any connection between yourself and your character?
Our humor is absolutely one in the same.
Tell us about the HBO series The Comeback?
I had so much fun on that show, and I really owe a great deal of my career to it. To this day, people in the industry still have mad love for The Comeback.
And how it was working on Gilmore Girls?
It was my favorite show before I got cast on it, so I pretty much fan girl freaked out everyday I work on it.
What has been your favorite role so far?
I got the pleasure of working with Chris Reeve on his last project. That is my favorite role to date.
What role would you love to play that you haven’t yet?
A villain. I think that would be cool.
What is the scariest part of an audition?
You never know how it is going to go. It could be the best experience of your life or the worst. You are unfortunately at the mercy of the people you are auditioning for, it is all on them.
If you could choose, what three actors would you really want to work with?
Helen Mirren, Helen Mirren, did I mention Helen Mirren?
What’s the best part of being an actor? And worst?
The best part is the job itself, actually being paid to perform. The worst part is everything you have to do to get there.
Why do you think so many aspiring actors end up giving up on their dream?
Because it is hard with very little reward. There is no rhyme or reason to why people work and do not work. It is a pretty messed up industry that way, it can very soul sucking at times.
Being an actor for almost 15 years has taught me never to plan anything.
What inspires you?
My family and friends. Just getting to be happy with them inspires me everyday.
Where do you see yourself in a few years?
How did you stay fit?
I love yoga.
What advice would you give to those who want to be in this business?
Do not do it unless you can not imagine yourself doing anything else.
How’s your typical day?
Coffee, work, sleep. Maybe some Bravo TV watching in between.
Best advice ever given?
Never date actors or athletes. Thank you Mom for that advice.
What music do you have in your iPod?
A lot of musicals.
Do not really have one.
Favorite Travel destination:
Anywhere in Europe
Pretty much down for any Mexican restaurant.
Too many to count. 500 days of Summer, Mean Girls, Social Network, Sunset Blvd. So many more too.
Photo Credit: Tommaso Mei