Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Why Alisha From Lightyear Sounds So Familiar

Contains spoilers for "Lightyear"

Alisha Hawthorne provides a central grounding influence in the action-packed world of Pixar's critically acclaimed "Lightyear." A space ranger commander, she and Buzz Lightyear (Chris Evans) are best friends, and Alisha sometimes fondly teases Buzz about his quirks. But time and fate end up separating the twosome; while trying to get themselves and their fellow shipmates on the Turnip off a hostile alien planet where they've been marooned for a year, Buzz becomes unstuck in time thanks to the crew's experimentation with hyperspeed. It was supposed to be a four-minute mission, but Buzz discovers that decades have passed since he left.

Alisha has gone on to forge a life for herself in the place where she's been planted, becoming a revered leader against an invading force and building up the legend of the Turnip's crew through her deeds. She also falls in love, marries, and has a family. It's her granddaughter, Izzy Hawthorne (Keke Palmer), who becomes a space ranger and joins Buzz on his quest to defeat the evil Zurg (James Brolin) and free the planet from his tyranny.

While the actor who portrays Alisha will likely be a familiar face to anyone who's a fan of small-screen dramas, her voice will be very familiar to any young animation fan worth their salt. This is why Alisha from "Lightyear" sounds so very familiar.

Uzo Aduba has voiced a pony princess

While Uzo Aduba might be most familiar to adults as Suzanne "Crazy Eyes" Warren in the Netflix drama "Orange Is the New Black," animation fans and kids everywhere likely remember her from one of several roles where she showed off her vocal skills in the recording booth. 

In 2017's "My Little Pony: The Movie," Aduba voices Queen Novo, the ocean-dwelling ruler of Seaquestria and the Queen of the Hippogriffs. Part mercreature and part pony, Queen Novo is incredibly protective of her kingdom and family and frowns upon outsiders making inroads into her community. She is thusly conflicted about aiding Princess Twilight Sparkle (Tara Strong), a winged unicorn from the dry land of Equestria, on a mission to defeat the Storm King (Liev Schreiber).

Though she temporarily transforms the ponies into sea ponies like her, Queen Novo ultimately decides not to help out Twilight Sparkle after catching the pony trying to steal a magical pearl. Her daughter, Princess Skystar (Kristin Chenoweth), rebels against her mother to join Twilight Sparkle in saving all of Equestria from the Storm King's evil, resulting in forgiveness and friendship blooming between all parties.

In an interview with Mulderville shortly before the film's release, Aduba, who grew up collecting My Little Pony toys, praised her character: "She's strong. She doesn't take any nonsense and will do everything in her power to protect her family." She described her excitement over working in animation for the first time, saying, "The thing that's exciting about doing animation is being able to take all of your physical energy and character and having to focus it into your voice, and it really requires you to use your entire imagination."

She brought Colonel Kubritz to life for Netflix

Netflix's "3Below: Tales of Arcadia" had a star-studded cast that includes Tatiana Maslany, Diego Luna, Nick Offerman, and Frank Welker and ran for two seasons.

Uzo Aduba voices Colonel Kubritz, one of the show's main villains during its second season. Colonel Kubritz hates aliens and has dedicated her professional life to removing the presence of all extra terrestrial beings from Arcadia and Earth itself. That puts Aja (Maslany) and Krel Tarron (Luna) right in her crosshairs. Kubritz' determination to exterminate them despite their desire to forge a peaceful life — even if they have to go about it cloaked as human beings — results in a high-stakes battle. Kubritz strikes a bargain with the evil General Val Morando (Alon Aboutboul), a very powerful force from the Tarron siblings' home world. When Morando begins to gain power at an alarming rate, Kubritz regrets her choice, but it might be too late for her to turn her ship around.

According to head writer A.C. Bradley, the expansion of Aduba's role in the series happened organically (via SyFy Wire). "She wasn't supposed to be a big character in Part Two until we were in the middle of it. We were breaking it down, and we'd already written the Area 51 [Area 49B] episode of Part 1," Bradley explained, "so we went back and we changed some of her lines to give her more motivation, and to set her up to be a bigger character in Part 2. We knew we wanted to use her, we didn't know how much."

She lent her tones to Steven Universe's colorful world

Uzo Aduba played Bismuth in Cartoon Network's "Steven Universe," as well as "Steven Universe: The Movie." Bismuth is a founding member of the Crystal Gems but has a stormy relationship with Rose Quartz (Susan Egan) that leads to a falling-out between the two friends. Rose imprisons Bismuth and then lies to the rest of the team about her presence for millennia.

After Rose's death, her son, Steven Universe (Zach Callison), finds Bismuth and frees her. Bismuth wants to wreak vengeance upon Homeworld, the planet from which she and the rest of the Crystal Gems originate. Homeworld has long opposed the Crystal Gems' plan to protect and peacefully coexist with earthlings; Rose's relationship with Steven's human father, Greg, was particularly verboten.

Bismuth's solution is a weapon called the Breaking Point, which can shatter (i.e., disable) any Gem, including Diamonds. Steven temporarily re-imprisons Bismuth for fear she might hurt others and destroys the Breaking Point, but ultimately, he and Bismuth come to an understanding, and the rest of the Gems learn what has happened to their old friend. She returns to the team and becomes a major part of the founding and building of Little Homeworld, a town established for the Gems who have chosen to remain on Earth. She also develops romantic feelings for Pearl (Deedee Magno).

Aduba told Larry King in 2018 why she feels "Steven Universe" is so popular: "It's inventive, it's cool, it has an edge to it, it has a laugh at itself a little bit — a little bit of a wink to it — and I think everybody likes that it doesn't take itself too seriously."