"We recycle a lot. We have a beautiful blue bin right next to the door," says Marlee Matlin, the "Celebrity Apprentice" runner-up who sends her four kids to school with eco-friendly lunchboxes. "We're very, very eco-friendly," says Matlin, whose next role is tailor made for her: she plays the guidance counselor and sometime basketball coach at a school for the deaf in "Switched at Birth," premiering on ABC Family June 6. She's also the best friend of Regina (Constance Marie) who raised deaf teenager Daphne (Katie Leclerc), and the mother of Daphne's friend (Sean Berdy). Taking the role was a "no-brainer," says Matlin, who first appears in the third episode. It showcases deaf culture, allows her to communicate in sign language and is something her kids can watch.
"It's nice to see a deaf character integrated into a show in such a seamless fashion. Hopefully, if we get picked up for a second season, we can bring more and more characters into the show that happen to be deaf," says Matlin, who met with the show's producers before flying to New York to shoot "Celebrity Apprentice" last fall. Raising over a million dollars for the Starkey Hearing Foundation on that show made the hard work worth it, but she could have done without the drama between some of the contestants. "It just got to be too much sometimes. It was a good thing I was deaf, let me say that," she laughs. "The voices, the fighting, I would just look away. I tuned it out. Raising money for the deaf kids is why I did the show. All that drama is not what I'm about. It's not my style."
The experience taught her to listen to herself and other people, "and in terms of tasks, a lot about branding, advertising, directing. How to create a campaign, how to film a commercial, how to do editing," she notes. "But for now, though, I think I'll stick with acting."