Brigid Leahy on growing up in California, the Irish connection and voice acting

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I’m of the firm belief that everyone has a story. It could be an article, a tweet or a video. But whatever it is, it just takes one nugget of curiosity for me to reach out to interview someone. Brigid Leahy was one such person who piqued my interest.

Growing up, Brigid loved musical theatre and acting. She performed in all of her school’s plays and musicals but also had a deep interest in studying history.

Deciding to pursue, as she describes, “a more “safe” interest”, she studied History at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) but was also active in a student theatre group. But how did Brigid end up in Ireland?

Brigid Leahy’s story begins in Orange County, California

Brigid’s mom is from Vietnam and her family came to the United States as refugees after the Vietnam War.

“California is home to the largest Vietnamese community outside of Vietnam and I grew up practising a lot of Vietnamese customs, celebrating Vietnamese holidays and eating Vietnamese food,” Brigid tells me.

“My dad is from Ohio and his family is originally from Cork. This is where I get my Irish connection and my very Irish name!”

Growing up she always loved reading and writing and especially loved fantasy books and getting lost in made-up worlds.

Brigid Leahy sits on a black chair that reads: 'Cast'

After graduating, Brigid thought she wanted to be a lawyer but after working at a law firm realised that it wasn’t for her. And so, it was this in fact what sparked her move to Ireland as she was accepted into an M.Phil for Public History and Cultural Heritage at Trinity College.

Though far from home, Brigid continued to pursue her interest in performing and auditioned for tv, film and theatre roles. She believes that history and acting work in harmony.

“History is the study of the human condition and understanding what makes humans tick is an important skill to be a good actor,” Brigid explains.

“I still love history and use it in my writing. For my dissertation at Trinity, I wrote about the Vietnamese community in Ireland and how they commemorate the Vietnam War.”

“Eight years later, I used my research to co-write a short film with writer/director Nell Hensey titled Good Chips – a story about a Vietnamese family who settled in Ireland after fleeing the war. Currently, I’m writing a play that explores historical themes as well!”

Brigid tells me that she still feels like she’s an “emerging actor” and a fairly new writer as well. The first break that helped her land an agent was a small role in the HBO show Avenue 5.

“After editing, I ended up only having one line per episode but it was such a valuable experience for me,” she tells me.

“I had the opportunity to work with actors whom I admire and got to be on large-scale sets. Working with Armando Iannucci was a dream come true. I was invited to workshop scenes and got to work with the writers and producers as well.”

Being an actor isn’t easy Brigid adds as work isn’t always consistent and you’re constantly looking for the next project.

“I’ve found that being a multi-hyphenate artist has helped to keep me working,” she says. “I love pursuing writing, acting and doing voiceover work simultaneously!”

Like many actors, Brigid started voiceover work during the pandemic. It was work that she could do from home and she had a microphone set up.

“When I signed with my voiceover agent, I remember writing in my journal that I wanted to voice animated characters,” she muses.

“It’s something that has always been on my career goals list. I wrote scripts for several made-up characters for practice and sent them to my agent for feedback. I was really lucky and within a few months I landed my first job and I fell in love!”

Typically, Brigid goes to a studio to do the voiceover work. For some projects, she travels to London and for others she records in studios in Dublin though mostly it depends on where the production is taking place. For other projects, like audiobooks, commercials or e-learning Brigid works from her home studio.

Brigid tells me that voiceover work is competitive and like any art form, it’s your individuality that is going to help you stand out and win the roles. Her advice is to find out what your strengths are and lean into them.

“For example, I know that I have a higher pitched voice and therefore, tend to play younger characters,” she says.

“Another skill to learn for voiceover is versatility. Directors love when a voice artist is able to give them different options to choose from. Can you say the same line in three different ways and convey different feelings?”

Though there are many projects that Brigid can’t talk about yet, one such project that she loved working on was the video game Xenoblade Chronicles 3. In it, Brigid played Segiri, who before meeting the main cast goes by her given name “No. 7”.

“Nintendo is an iconic brand and I was so excited to land the role of ‘Segiri’ for my first videogame role,” Brigid Leahy says.

“It was really interesting to see how video games are made. Production is just as complex – if not more complex! – as filming a movie or tv series.”

Bridig currently has a couple of other projects that are in production at the moment that she can’t speak about and says it’s the toughest part of working in voiceover because animation takes years to complete.

However, there’s one project that she’s working on that she describes as “truly a dream come true” and cannot wait to share it when it comes out in 2024.

“My biggest advice for those who want to get into acting is to stick with it,” she says. “Success isn’t easy and there are highs and lows. Ride the wave and keep going.”

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I'm a freelance content creator, author, and journalist who has a strong desire to share interesting content about Irish people and things about Ireland at home and abroad. I am constantly curious.

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