Voice actor Susan Bennett said she never expected to become a Voice actor when she first started recording in the studios of Atlanta, little did she know that she would become one of the household names today with her phrases being used in one of the most iconic Artificial Intelligent Assistants, Siri.
Susan Bennett has been the voice of Apple’s first iteration of Siri since 2011. She originally recorded her vocals for a company called Scansoft in 2005, where she was asked to read nonsensical sentences, like “Cow hoist in the tug hut today” and “Say shift fresh issue today.” Bennett had no idea that six years later her recordings would be used for Siri.
Bennett was surprised by the recognition that came with being the voice to one of the most famous Artificial Intelligence Assistants. “Of course, I was very flattered, but I also worried that my voice would become so ubiquitous that it would affect my ability to book other gigs,” Bennett said. “I loved my voiceover career, and I didn’t want to be pigeonholed as a virtual assistant voice.”
As she continued to recognize her voice in more places, like the Atlanta Airport for Delta Airlines gate announcements, it became more than clear that companies were using her voiceover recordings from ScanSoft. It was then she knew she had an opportunity to make something of it, even though Apple had never publicly acknowledged her or compensated her.
Although it took her two years to finally reveal herself as the voice of Siri, Bennett has been able to take advantage of the opportunities being Siri has presented her. Bennett has been featured on TV shows, given a TEDx Talk, and spoken on the radio. Furthermore, she could also go back to the companies to get them to pay her the due compensation.
Bennett remarks, “I think a lot of people don’t even consider that there are human beings behind AI voices, or that a real person recorded it and deserves to be paid. It’s really been fun “being” Siri. It’s really given me a lot of really wonderful opportunities that I wouldn’t have had otherwise, so no complaints here.”
Now that Apple has released different accents and languages for Siri, Bennett has met other voice actors, in England and Australia, who have gone through the same experience as her. She can put a face to their voice stories, as Aaron Briggs and Karen Jacobsen have gone through the same experience as Bennett.
Overall, Bennett has enjoyed her Siri experience. She remarks, “The original was a little snarky, in a fun way—they gave her a great sense of humor and a sharp wit. I think a lot of people talked to her just to see what she would say. Now, Siri sounds a little more bland to me. I never talked to Siri when she had my voice—it was just too weird.”
It’s clear to see how Bennett went from recording nonsensical phrases in a studio, to becoming the signature voice of Siri in just five years. Even though Apple has been silent in publically acknowleding or paying Bennett, she’s taken the initiative by promoting herself and taking the opportunities that Siri has presented her with.
We can only hope that Apple pays due credit to Bennett and everyone who has made Siri the Artificial Intelligent Assistant we now all know and love today. Have you ever heard Bennett’s voice on Apple’s Siri? let us know in the comments!