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FASHION INFLUENCERS: Katie Leclerc and Vanessa Marano

The secrets out—CollegeFashionista is launching a new editorial series! Each month, we will be inviting a member of young Hollywood to take over and act as CollegeFashionista’s “Fashion Influencer.” To kick off this new series, we couldn’t be more excited to feature not one, but two young starlets making waves on and off the camera.

Katie Leclerc and Vanessa Marano are the stars of ABC Family’s hit show, “Switched at Birth.” In case you are one of the few people not über obsessed with the show, the story revolves around two teenage girls who, as the title suggests, are switched at birth. Now in its fourth season, the show continues to break the mold and touch on topics such as identity and family in groundbreaking fashions.

While the scripts and plot lines are riveting, it is Katie and Vanessa’s performances that continue to captivate audiences and build the legion of fans. These ladies are making names for themselves in Hollywood as hardworking, talented actresses and statement making Fashionistas.

To kick off their reign as CollegeFashionista’s February “Fashion Influencers,” we caught up with Katie and Vanessa to learn a little bit more about these two fantastic ladies. From their style on and off set to their first fashion memories and more, take some time to learn more about Katie and Vanessa!

Be sure to check back each Monday this month for more exclusive features and content from this dynamic duo here on CollegeFashionista. Catch Katie and Vanessa on Switched At Birth Tuesdays at 9 pm on ABC Family!

CollegeFashionista: When did you start acting and what inspired you to do so?

Vanessa Marano: I started acting at age eight. My mother owned a theatre, so I grew up around plays and loved every second of it.

Katie Leclerc: I started [acting] at 14 in the role of Annie. There’s something infectious about the stage and the lights and hearing an audience react to what you just made them feel.

CF: Describe your personal style.

KL: Relaxed, comfortable and simple. I like colors a lot and try to mix and match. 

VM: Dark. I wear a lot of black.

CF: Do your respective characters on Switched at Birth inspire your everyday fashion choices at all? How so?

VM: Well, I would say Bay and I have a similar take on fashion in the sense that we both wear a lot of dark colors. She’s more of a fashion risk taker than I am. That being said, I’ve absolutely stolen a lot from her closet.

KL: I think so. They often call Daphne’s outfits “sporty spice” she can rock an awesome dress but can mostly be found in cute pants and a killer top with some kind of boot. 

CF: How are your personalities similar to your respective characters? How are they different?

KL: I try to be like Daphne. Strong, confident and determined. She doesn’t let anyone stand in her way and I love that!

VM: Bay and I both have a sarcastic sense of humor, but other than that we are completely different. Bay never thinks anything through. I, on the other hand, overthink everything. She jumps into a situation without weighing the cost versus benefits, she always says the first thing on her mind. It’s an admirable quality, but she finds herself in a lot of trouble because of it.

CF: The show is now on its fourth season. What is the biggest thing you have learned during this time?

VM: Sign language. I knew absolutely no ASL before this show, and now I know a lot!

KL: When we first started I was pretty nervous. It was the most challenging role I had done so far and I was working with people who I grew up loving! What I’ve learned is that I am doing what I’m meant to do. My voice is stronger, posture straighter and attitude more positive. 

CF: What are some of your favorite things to do when you are not working?

KL: I love my husband and many dogs. You can often find me in the trails behind my house with the pups or on the living room couch playing video games with Brian [her husband]. 

VM: Sleep and watch Bravo.

CF: What is your favorite fashion memory?

KL: Making my first “who wore it best” for one of the weekly periodicals. 

VM: I’ve always been a bigger shopper, and think it’s because it’s something my mom and I always did together. My favorite fashion memories all go back to my mom and I going to the mall together.

CF: Katie, what has it been like playing the role of a deaf teenager given your experience having Meniere’s disease?

KL: It’s been great to bring awareness to a new audience. We are the only show of its kind on television and I’m so proud!

CF: How do you like shooting editorial work compared to being on a TV set?

KL: I like shooting editorial but it can feel a bit stiff. TV shows the movement of the clothes and the life behind them. 

CF: Vanessa, you have been acting since you were rather young. How has growing up in Hollywood impacted you as a person as well as your fashion sense?

VM: Well, I had the advantage of going to tons of wardrobe fittings and seeing what looked good and bad on me from a young age. I say the biggest impact was figuring out how to dress for my body type. As soon as you figure out the shapes you look good in, you’re kind of unstoppable.

CF: You have been fortunate enough to be a part of several really successful series. What advice would you have for your peers trying to break into acting?

VM: Study. Take acting classes; watch TV and movies; read plays. This isn’t a career path to take unless you absolutely love it. The only way to know that you love it for sure, is to learn all you can about it.

CF: What is your favorite part of being on Switched at Birth?

VM: Probably the people I get to work with every day. We have a great cast and crew.

KL: The awesome people and lifelong friends. I’m in the best show in town with the coolest people. I feel so lucky!!

Be sure to catch Katie and Vanessa on Switched At Birth Tuesdays at 9 pm on ABC Family!

Photos of Vanessa: Photos by Tommaso Mei.