You may never have heard of NYU junior Anna Brisbin on campus, but over five-and-a-half million people have heard her squeak like Squirtle, and that’s not a figure of speech. Since she began uploading video impersonations to YouTube under the pseudonym Brizzy Voices this past summer, the 21-year-old Tisch drama major has gained over 10 million total video views and now has more than 150,000 YouTube subscribers.
Her videos of selected Nintendo and Nickelodeon impressions have each accumulated more than a million views, but her biggest success thus far is the previously mentioned Pokémon-themed clip, in which she impersonates all of the 151 original characters in under seven minutes, even while occasionally interjecting asides like, “Yeah, it does sound like that, okay?”
NYU Local recently caught up with Brisbin, who’s currently studying abroad in Madrid. Check out our conversation with the kookiest voice actor this side of 14th Street.
When did you start doing impressions, and do you remember what your first impression was?
I’ve always had the weird habit of mimicking sounds when I hear them (like a funny-sounding truck go by, or a cartoon character’s funny exclamation), but I didn’t record any sort of impression until fall of 2011 when I auditioned for Tisch film student Brian Blum’s audio project “A Day in the Life of Ash Ketchum,” which takes place 20 years later when Pokémon battling has been banned by PETA. I ended up playing Ash Ketchum and Officer Jenny and had a BLAST doing it, so this summer I started doing more for YouTube projects.
Who or what inspires you creatively?
[Since I'm] an insane Harry Potter fan, Emma Watson has always been a big role model for me, as I want to be a screen actress as well as voice-over. I am also really inspired by insanely dynamic cartoon voice actresses like Tara Strong (Dil Pickles from Rugrats) and Grey DeLisle (Vicky, The Fairly OddParents).
When did you notice that your YouTube impressions were starting to get popular, and how did you react to that?
“Voice ALL the Original Pokemon!!” blew up really rapidly in early July, gaining its first million within about a week, and my reaction was really a lot of disbelief. It still doesn’t quite seem real.
I noticed that a good number of commenters seem to be really into you. Some have even proposed to marry you, among other things! How have you responded to these comments?
Well, I’ve had people very genuinely offer to move to NYC to marry me immediately and there are some people who just look far too deeply into their fantasy of our future lives together, and that’s a bit creepy and too far. But other than that I’ve taken all the marriage proposals and sweet comments as merely extremely flattering. I just assume most of them are exaggerating.
What dorms have you lived in at NYU? And have you ever had roommates that have gotten fed up with you screaming Pokémon noises?
I lived in Founders freshman year and Gramercy sophomore year. Both were absolutely perfect, but I actually wasn’t doing any voice-over work before I left the city this past summer, so they haven’t had to put up with it at all. I recorded most of my current YouTube videos whenever I was home alone in South Carolina. Much to the dismay of my New York roommate, actually, who is perhaps one of my biggest YouTube fans and wishes I’d recorded them when I lived with her.
How does your family feel about your impressions and your popularity on YouTube?
I think they see how this could really help me get my foot in the door for my acting career, so they realize it’s a really great thing and are always showing their friends and stuff. They also really don’t mind the extra cash that’s coming in from YouTube ads that are helping pay my rent…
Joining the NYU Quidditch team was definitely the best decision I ever made at NYU. The team is so welcoming and such a family to me. I’ve played on it since my very first semester, played in the past 2 World Cups in NYC and plan on playing in the next one this April in Kissimmee, FL. I most often play beater and my favorite thing about the sport is probably the people who play it, to be honest. They are all really open-minded people who aren’t afraid to look a little silly if it means doing something totally unique, active, and INCREDIBLY fun and exciting! Of course there’s the Harry Potter aspect, but the sport is so much more than that. It’s about community, competition and creativity.
Who/what is your favorite character, person or thing to impersonate, and why?
Ash Ketchum will always have a special place in my heart thanks to both my childhood and that Tisch film project that got me started. He’s also one of the easiest and most natural for me to slip into, while also being very distinct and recognizable.
From J-Sex to Housie McGuire to the late Timekeeper, we have a lot of well-known characters at NYU. Have you ever impersonated any of them? If not, is this something that we can look forward to?
Does Housie already have a voice? Whether he does or not, I feel like he would be the most fun / the most in my range. Adult male voices aren’t exactly my forte and I feel like Housie’s voice would be pretty cute and cartoony. If the IRHC ever decided to make a video that required some Housie voice over, I’d do it in a heartbeat!
Lastly, are there any exciting YouTube projects you have in the works that we should look forward to?
Yeah, actually! I’m currently in the process of recording the voices for every character in a dark, cartoony, Burton-esque short film about addiction called Pixey. The trailer should be out soon and the full film a few months later. And then I’m always working on more voice collage sort of videos for my channel! In the works are The Simpsons, Adventure Time, and some classic Disney characters like Mickey Mouse.
Check out Brizzy Voices’ impressions here, and keep your fingers crossed for some wacky NYU-themed impersonations! (You know we will.)