Actor, performer, director
ABC Family's Switched at Birth premiered on June 6, 2011, and became an immediate hit. The unfolding story (with complications and twists in each episode) focuses on the adventures of two teenaged girls from very different socio-economic backgrounds (Daphne Paloma Vasquez and Bay Kennish), who learn that they were accidentally switched as newborns by the hospital staff and taken home by non-biological parents. Daphne's biological parents, Kathryn and John Kennish, live in the affluent suburb of Mission Hills, Kansas; Bay's biological mother, Regina Vasquez, is a struggling single and working mom. New twists and complications enliven each episode. There are numerous conflicts as the two girls and their families cope with their pasts and navigate the present.
While Bay attends the tony private school, Buckner Hall, Daphne attends Carlton School for the Deaf. Her schoolmate, Emmett Bledsoe, has been a longtime loyal friend, but, although he has romantic feelings for Daphne, she goes off with hearing boys. But after he gets to meet Bay, she takes a shine to him, and he's smitten with her too. He teaches her basic sign language, and she encourages him to use his voice. Although he has criticized Daphne for trying to act Hearing, he wants to explore the Hearing community himself. And Daphne's feelings for Emmett are starting to heat up.
Emmett is played by Sean Berdy, a native of Boca Raton, Florida, who grew up in California. He's a native signer and, from the start, has been a performer—acting. comedy—and has begun directing his own videos. He's also putting together his one-man Sean Berdy Show, in ASL.
His involvement with Switched at Birth began when he responded to a Facebook page that included a casting call for "a deaf James Dean." After studying Dean's iconic performances in his three movies, Berdy aced the audition. He plays Emmett with an appealing mixture of rakish charm, brashness, and kindness, Deaf pride, and curiosity about the Hearing community. A talented photographer, Emmett zooms around on a motorcycle and pinch-hits as a drummer in Toby Kennish's band. He also gets into hot water with his mother (Marlee Matlin) after coming home with blood on his T-shirt and barbed-wire scratches on his arms, the result of an escapade of sneaking out with Bay to put up her stencil-graffiti billboard—both narrowly escape getting arrested—and lying about it. (Emmett later secretly manages to get the artwork up by himself—as a birthday surprise for Bay.) He also copes with hearing people's stereotypical preconceptions and stupidities—just like real life.
Sean Berdy has acquired a large—and growing—fan following, which he appreciates. "I'm always humbled and honored to have them. They motivate me to pursue my best acting for the show and [whatever I do] in future. I've received [a lot of] fan mail. I believe [they consider me] an inspiration and [I send my encouragement] back with autographed pictures. I have so much respect and love for them."
He's had fun acting in every episode—especially the scene "where I insulted Toby as a moron."
Shooting is beginning for the rest of Switched at Birth's first season and first half of its second (yes, it's been renewed). Berdy is enjoying in the challenges of working with a large cast and crew. "We have a great [bunch of] people and crew on the set. Many of them have already learned to use basic ASL."
It's great to see a proud Deaf character in a leading role in a hit TV series. Pah!