Actress and host Valery Ortiz makes her mark with her new role in Switched at Birth.

When Valery Ortiz arrived at her audition for the role of Noelle, a new character in the fifth season of Switched at Birth, she took one look at the part and thought it wasn’t for her. “What’s funny is I go to a lot of auditions and there are always roles I relate to for which I can draw from my own experiences,” says Ortiz. “With Noelle I was like, aw man, I don’t know, I think somebody else can walk in there and just be this girl.”

Nevertheless, the Puerto Rican actress got the part of the tattooed tough girl and was very excited to join the cast of the groundbreaking Peabody award-winning family drama that tackles subjects like Down Syndrome and drug addiction and which made history when it aired an episode completely in American Sign Language. “I feel like the show is revolutionary and it has done things that no other show has done.”

You can also catch Ortiz on VH1’s Hit the Floor, where she plays NBA cheerleader Raquel Saldana, and as host of the entertainment show American Latino TV. She’s also played roles that some would feel are stereotypical for Latinas in Hollywood, but she has her own opinions on the subject. “I know people get really upset with those kinds of roles, or if someone’s a maid or something, but honestly, I feel that instead of being upset about those roles, we have to realize that this is real life for some people.  I don’t think it’s such a bad thing to tell their story because then that’s almost shaming them for who they are.”

Dancing and acting since age nine, Valery says her experiences in Hollywood have been positive.  “I’ve been really lucky. It’s actually benefited me to be Latina and to speak English and Spanish. Things are getting better and you are starting to see all this diversity on TV, but I know we still have a long way to go.”

Switched at Birth
Mondays at 8pm/7c

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