Sometimes it’s hard to appreciate that the countless electronic voices we hear, from the prompt at the self-checkout to the disembodied tone coming from our phones, were provided by a real person. Where do those voices come from? To find out, I asked the original voice of the iPhone assistant Siri, Susan Bennett.
She’s a voice actor who, in addition to her iconic iPhone oeuvre, does commercials, sings, and provides voices for many other companies and services. And she explained just how her unique industry works.
Talking to Susan Bennett is surreal — at one moment she sounds completely normal, except she has the most pleasant voice you’ve ever heard. But in a flash she can turn on the Siri voice, and you start thinking you’re talking to your computer.
Bennett is a native of Burlington, Vermont, who moved to upstate New York when she was young, and her background gave her a neutral American speaking style. After acting and singing at Brown University, she went to twangy Atlanta, where her clear, unaccented voice has given her a unique competitive advantage.
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