At the end of their five-year journey, both Bay and Daphne found love and fulfilling career paths. For Bay, that means continue to refine her skills as a tattoo artist. She'll be spreading her wings as an up-and-coming artist in Kansas City as her boyfriend Travis (Ryan Lane) heads to Japan to play professional baseball. And Daphne found her wild other half in Mingo (Adam Hagenbuch) and recommitted herself to becoming a doctor, no matter how difficult it might be to do so as a deaf person.
Most importantly, both of the girls finally solidified their place within the Kennish-Vasquez family. Despite the weird circumstances of how they came to be sisters, they grew to love each other as real siblings and created a solid family unit that will be there for them no matter what.
TVGuide.com got a chance to chat with Marano and Leclerc about the final episode, where they see Bay and Daphne in the future, and what being on Switched at Birth has meant to them.
What is it about Bay and Travis' relationship that allows her to make the decision that he can go to Japan without her and they're going to be OK?
Marano: I think it's trust. Everyone is going to hate that I'm saying this, but that's what her and Emmett lacked. That's why her and Emmett could not be together. She could not trust that he could be away from her and stay faithful to her. Bay and Travis have that. Ultimately, that's what makes their relationship work. It sucks because there is so much connection between Bay and Emmett. They get each other. They understand each other. They love each other. It might even be a more intense love and a more weirdly fulfilling love than she has with Travis, but ultimately they don't trust each other. Bay and Travis do and would never hurt each other. That is something that she is saying to him, "I see that in you. You have that in me and we're going to be fine."
One of the super emotional moments was when Daphne asks Kathryn if she can call her Mom. What made her ready to do that at this point in time?
Leclerc: I think she was ready for a while. I think she sort of felt that connection in China. I feel like everybody missed everybody so much that she has two moms. She really kind of has three because Melody, in her mind, growing up at least, was always another mom. She's really lucky to have this example of strong women and determined women. I think she vocalizes in that moment because of what happened with Chris as well. The athletic department is affected and she just always knows that Kathryn has her back. It's something that Kathryn is wanting to hear as well. They have that nice connection and it's a very sweet moment.
How do you think your characters changed over the course of five seasons?
Leclerc: I think [Daphne] has sort of been refined a little bit more. She starts the series with these big wide open arms. She wants to learn everything about this family that she almost had, then really comes to realize that the family that she almost had is the family that she has. She is strong in her beliefs and is determined in her conviction. She knows that no matter what her struggle is, she has has these people who will always be there with her — her sisterhood, her brother — and what it means to be a daughter and what it means to set a good example and to help them with their struggles too. I think she has a lot of the same convictions that she had in the beginning; she just realizes how supported she is, which ultimately makes you even more determined and even stronger. She's more of a woman.
Marano: I think Bay started off as not necessarily a likable character. She was very bratty, kind of spoiled, very narcissistic, and kind of insecure too. We start that pilot and she's like, "Me, me, me me, me. No one understands me. No one gets me. Now this perfect girl comes in and she's actually my parents' daughter. Everyone loves her. Why don't they love me? Why isn't anyone else freaking out about this?" She's grown to be a very selfless and loyal. She's a wonderful, well-rounded human being. I love that about her because I think she's kept all of her good qualities and learned from her bad qualities. They haven't necessarily gone away, but she's learned from them. She was always a brutally honest character and that's something great that she's kept. She uses it now to acknowledge situations in a mature way. I like that she used her good and bad qualities to grow.
If there is a Switched at Birth reunion in 10 years, where would you like to see your characters?
Leclerc: I really see her as a doctor, most likely with a private practice in Kansas City. She is always going to do what she can for other people. Doctor is such a fitting role for her. I definitely see her with that private practice and potentially with Mingo. I really like the way that that relationship works for Daphne and for Mingo. I would absolutely, in a heartbeat, do a 10-year reunion. That would be the coolest.
Marano: [Bay's] still an artist. Maybe not still tattooing but she's tried every medium of art. She got into sculpting. She's just done everything. She's living this crazy, artsy life that she's always wanted to do, but the UN has consulted with her and sad, "Look, you have such an amazing ear for languages. We need to hire you part time to be a translator for us." That's what's funding her art career is the money she's making from translating Mandarin into American Sign Language.
What has being on this show meant to you?
Leclerc: It's the best journey of my life. What a wild ride! From the pilot episode and having the table read and having Constance Marie be at my very first audition — I'm so grateful for this journey. I'm so grateful for this ride. I grew up on this show. I got married and had a home. Life happens in the process of living Daphne's life. It's opened so many doors for me. It's created so many lifelong friendships for me. Truly, Switched has been everything and I am so grateful for it.
Marano: Everything. It was such an important part of my life. I turned 18 on this show. I turned 21 on this show. It's such a wonderful chapter of my life that I wouldn't trade for anything in the world.