Brizzy Voices' Anna Brisbin Shares Her Impersonation Secrets and Craziest Fan Story
Anna Brisbin's YouTube channel, Brizzy Voices, has more than 1.5 million subscribers, so you could say she knows a thing or two about impressions.
The character impersonator, voice actress and pop culture fangirl uploaded her first video in the summer of 2012, and her channel hasn't slowed down since.
Of course, developing hundreds of unique voices doesn't happen overnight. We spoke with Anna herself to get the inside scoop on what it took to cultivate her mimicry skills and what it's been like to translate those abilities to her voice acting career.
(Courtesy of Anna Brisbin)
Sweety High: Did you grow up doing a lot of impressions as a kid? What was your process for finding your voice and eventually deciding to be a voice actor?
Anna Brisbin: Not consciously, but I think I've always been parroting interesting things I hear, be it a funny-sounding car horn, a bird or someone with interesting inflection on TV. I didn't really realize I was doing it until recently. I always knew I wanted to be an actor, but I'd never considered voiceover specifically as a career option or something I'd be particularly good at.
It's entirely about listening, trying the voice and seeing what happens. 90% of the time, I can either do the voice or I can't. Of course, the more familiar I am with the voice, the easier it will be for me to do it on the fly without a reference. I can't pull most of my impressions out of my brain without listening to them first.
Voiceover is just acting without a visual audience, so I've been training since high school. Of course, I'm learning more every day about the specific world and business of voiceover.
SH: How did your Brizzy Voices YouTube channel come about?
AB: By the time I was in my last year of college, where I studied theatre and film acting, I knew my plan was to focus on voiceover professionally after graduation. I created my YouTube channel, which is based on voices and impressions, about halfway through college. I was home, bored for the summer with nothing to do. I'd done some voiceover projects at school and decided I wanted to find more to do online, so I started a channel attempting various impressions so I could audition for fan projects.
It wasn't my plan for the channel itself to become a huge thing, but I'm not complaining. I'm an actor, so obviously I've got a bit of narcissism in me—I want an audience. YouTube is amazing for making it possible for people to find an audience all on their own.When that was well-received, I knew I could make voice acting happen. I also really enjoy being a role model to younger kids. I've been super goody two-shoes my entire life, so it's pretty easy.
SH: What are you favorite imitations to do? What has been your favorite original character in your voice acting?
AB: Of the characters I've done impressions of, I really relate to Bubbles from The Powerpuff Girls, who loves animals and coloring and playing games. I feel that. One of the most fun impressions to do is Jigglypuff from Pokémon, and watching everyone pretend to fall asleep. Since I either can or can't do most voices, there aren't many that are hit-or-miss for me unless I can't recall what they sound like.
My most recent roles are probably my favorites. I voice a few characters with a few lines each in a video game called Paradigm, which just came out. My favorite is probably Stef, the apathetic enslaved octopus cashier.
(Pokémon via 4Kids Entertainment)
SH: What's been your most bizarre fan experience?
AB: I once accidentally wound up kind of babysitting a 9-year-old girl at a convention in Indiana. She came up to meet me and was super sweet, so I let her hang around my booth. I guess she didn't want to leave so eventually her mom left to wander the convention, so I had this very sweet, very clingy little girl following me around for an hour or two. She was adorable, but it was a bit much. Eventually the mom did return and drag her away.
SH: Any advice for aspiring voice actors?
AB: Take acting lessons and get experience—any performing experience you can get, really. I recommend theatre, but music, improv and stand-up are all helpful. The book Voice-over Voice Actor by Yuri Lowenthal and Tara Platt is also a super easy, fun and helpful read that covers all the basics of getting started.
Love voice acting? Click HERE to read our interview with Catherine Taber, the voice of the animated Padmé Amidala and Princess Leia.