We sat down with our newest team member, Alexis Sierra Barnett, who will be helping us create sound collections for DuckyCam and DuckyDo. She recently appeared on America’s got Talent and we asked her about her amazing talent to imitate and interact with animals.
Q: It’s amazing to see how horses react to you (video). They pin their ears towards you and walk right up to you as to have a conversation, what do you talk about with them?
Alexis: Yes, it’s amazing to me too to see the horse’s reactions. But I actually don’t know what I’m saying to them. But judging from the horse’s reactions its probably a greeting, like saying “hello”. It’s a demanding sound, like “come over here”, and “follow me”.
Q: How did you discover that you had this talent and how did you develop it?
Alexis: I discovered I had this talent when I was ten years old and my family and I were on a horse farm picking up a puppy for my older brother Levi. A couple of the horses neighed and I thought it would be fun to try it. When I made the horse sound it sounded pretty spot on. So I kept making the sound and became pretty good at it. Over the years I learned to do more by watching movies or being around other farm animals like the pigs we showed at the Perry County Fair. I realized I could imitate just about any animal sound I hear.
Q: We were stunned the first time we heard you neigh in person because it is so much more impressive in person than through a small speaker. Especially the panther roar is shockingly loud and frightening! Do you have particular animals that you are good at?
Alexis: The animals I’m especially good at are, the horse, pig, dog, donkey, monkey, panther, zebra and the bear. The more I practice a sound the better I get at it.
Q: Do you have any animals yourself, and do you talk to them?
Alexis: I have a few animals myself! Right now I have an English Chocolate Lab named Champ and a pot belly pig named Marilyn. Over the the past 20 years I have raised pigs, chickens and rabbits for the Perry County Fair. I used to have a black and white painted horse named Chance. Being around these animals helped me realize the reactions animals I get from my noises. They usually perk their ears up and look at me more come running up to me and sniff my face. It’s always interesting talking to the animals.
Q: In one of the videos, we see that the mini ponies really seem to love you. Where was that video taken?
Alexis: The video with the horses and the cute mini ponies was taken at the Mystery Lane Farm. It’s a farm I have recently started volunteering at in my free time this past summer and the resident horses there are as friendly as it gets.
Q: How do children react when they hear you neigh?
Alexis: The reaction that children have to my animal sounds is one of my favorite things about having this talent and sharing it. Most kids think it’s hilarious and awesome!!! The popular animals sounds with them would be the farm animals like the horse pig and donkey. The panther impression usually gives children a flustered look like, “Oh wow she’s scary!”. But they mostly think it’s funny so they laugh and smile most of the time.
Q: Do they like particular sounds?
Alexis: when I make my horse neigh kids usually laugh! They smile and stare at me in disbelief that a human just made that sound.
Q: Some people may have seen you on America’s got Talent. How was that experience, and how did the audience react to your animal impressions?
Alexis: Americas got Talent was a great opportunity (video). Everyone from my home town that knew about my talent kept telling me to go on. As soon as I found out that they were going to be holding auditions in Columbus I jumped at the chance to audition. My mom was my only fan that I was able to bring with me to New York so when the audience laughed and clapped for me I was amazed! Meeting the other contestants and seeing their acts was unbelievable and breath taking! Not moving onto the next round wasn’t as disappointing as I thought it would be mainly because I still had great opportunities like contributing to DuckyCam, and because not too many people get to say they were on national television! But most of all, I was able to give America a good laugh.
Q: Is there anyone that inspires you?
Alexis: Ever since I was a little girl I have wanted to be like Jack Hannah from then Animal Adventures TV series. He works so well with the animals and is very brave to go out into the wild to study them. So as I far back as I can remember I have wanted to be a zoologist like him.
Q: You mentioned that you are going to university. What will you be studying?
Alexis: I will be studying Zoology at university. I have have always been fascinated with animals and how they interact with one another and with us humans. They have shown us to be very smart at times and its perfect because all I want to do is love and care for them. Having learned that I have this amazing talent has only made me want to be a zoologist more.
Q: You can already communicate with animals. Is that what you wish to focus on, i.e. understanding the different meaning of the sounds animals make?
Alexis: Having this talent and wanting to be a zoologist makes me want to learn more about what the different sounds mean. They are a lot like us humans and in that they use different sounds as a way of expressing themselves. It would be great to learn more about what they mean and I think being able to make the sounds myself gives me a chance to do my own research on the meaning of the sounds.
Q: You have already created one set of sounds for DuckyCam. Do you have plans for making more?
Alexis: I have very much enjoyed working with DuckyCam so far and I think it’s safe to say we make a great team and could discover a lot by working more on this together. I cannot wait to make more sets of sounds for parents and their children. I hope nothing but the best and that kids all over the world will love and enjoy our new App!
Videos with Alexis:
- Video: With Tex at Mystery Lane Farms
- Video: Ponies at Mystery Lane Farms
- Video: Donkeys startled by Alexis
- Video: First test recording session
- Video: Audition at America’s got Talent