Joy voiced by Amy Poehler in Inside Out

Where Have You Heard This Joyful Voice Before?

Inside Out is one of Disney and Pixar’s best animated films of the past decade. The film takes us inside the head of a young girl named Riley, enabling us to better understand the complexity of emotions—so much so that even psychologists have given it a thumbs up for accuracy.

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Our emotional protagonist is Joy, a frantic, fun-loving, character who wants Riley to feel happiness all the time. When we are first introduced to Riley as a newborn baby, Joy is the first emotion to manifest. She is quickly followed by Sadness (33 seconds later, to be precise), and eventually they are also joined by Fear, Anger, and Disgust. Joy is the one who takes charge, though; she’s proud of her accomplishments, including the fact that all of Riley’s core memories are joyous. It is her job to ensure that Riley is as happy a child as can possibly be, and she’s great at it—until the family move from Minnesota to San Francisco.

Joy quickly finds herself struggling to control the situation and her usual chipper attitude soon turns sour. Despite all the difficult challenges Riley is going through, Joy is determined to keep things positive, pushing other emotions aside to do just that. She becomes obnoxious and selfish, and her positivity takes on a slightly toxic tinge. In order to play such a character, they had to pull in someone whose voice could convey sunshine and rainbows while also having the ability to sound pushy and overbearing. The answer was obvious.

Who voices Joy?


Joy is voiced by comedic actor Amy Poehler. Poehler made her mark as a comedian and entertainer on SNL before transitioning to film and television. Best known for playing Leslie Knope in the hit sitcom Parks and Recreation, if you’ve seen Poehler’s performance there, you can easily understand how she was the perfect fit for Joy.

Leslie is passionate, loving, caring (suffocatingly so), and extremely goal-oriented. Much like Joy, sometimes Leslie’s passionate nature can often run roughshod over everyone else, making her a little much for some people to deal with. Essentially she is a bulldozer of fun.

Though some cast members changed, with Mindy Kaling and Bill Hader being replaced by Liza Rapira and Tony Hale for the roles of Disgust and Fear, Poehler continues to man the helm as Joy in Inside Out 2. We wouldn’t have it any other way.

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Laura Pollacco
Laura Pollacco (she/her) is a contributing writer here at The Mary Sue, having written for digital media since 2022 and has a keen interest in all things Marvel, Lord of the Rings, and anime. She has worked for various publications including We Got This Covered, but much of her work can be found gracing the pages of print and online publications in Japan, where she resides. Outside of writing she treads the boards as an actor, is a portrait and documentary photographer, and takes the little free time left to explore Japan.