Julia Finkelstein, The Woman Behind That Amazing Ariana Grande Impression, Tells Us How She Did It

Photo: Jason Merritt/Getty Images.
If you were to close your eyes and put on headphones, it would probably take you to the very end of this Vogue 73 Questions video with Ariana Grande to realize it was a parody, and only because Julia Finkelstein, the comedian behind the impression, gives a shout-out to herself in the final seconds of the sketch.
The LA-based comedian posted her first impression of Grande back on September 1st, which she told Refinery29 over the phone was a "messy drag queen version." It didn't take long for her to work up to this most recent impression, which has gone viral on Twitter and YouTube since it was posted on November 13. In it, Finkelstein dons a big sweatshirt ("It was $24.99 on H&M, baby") and thigh-high boots (that she had to get cobbled) to perfectly mimic the star as she paces around an airy California home. From Piggy Smallz to musicals to tripping over her own shoes, Finkelstein has the star down to a tee — but it all started with a riff.
"One of her songs came on, there were like a few of her riffs," Finkelstein said when asked about the inception of her impression. "Each one of them just sounds" — she took a moment to mimic one of Grande's drawn-out vocalizations — "where it's like gibberish, so I always impersonate that but in her voice, so it genuinely stems from the riff."
Finkelstein explained that the key to the perfect Ariana Grande impression comes down to three things. The first is the eyebrow movements, which the comedian describes as "worried." Then there is the jaw, which always has to be super prominent and sometimes clenched. Finally, her signature the "yuh," a noise Grande frequently makes in her songs that "really comes from the back of the throat."
With that, the impression was born, and soon came "73 Questions." The popular Vogue video series is ripe for parody with its signature structure and the recognizable voice of Joe Sabia, who Finkelstein said loved her Grande video. She enlisted her boyfriend's coworker to play the role, and the two feed off of each other in a way that's uncanny.
Finkelstein isn't just an Ariana Grande impersonator, though. She graduated college in 2016 and has since been pursuing her dream of being a comedic television and film actress, and mostly focuses on character work in her comedy.
"I have a list as long as my Ariana ponytail with notes and ideas," she says of her future plans, which include a song about her dog composed with her boyfriend. However, she's happy to ride the Ariana Grande wave of success wherever that takes her — which, hopefully, Finkelstein says, is Ellen.
"It's Ellen or bust," she joked.
It's not clear if Grande herself has seen the impression, but if you're reading this, Ari, Finkelstein wants you to know her parody was "110% made with love and respect."
Watch the full parody below.

More from Pop Culture

R29 Original Series