×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Issa Rae’s Voice Lands on Google Assistant

Now you can make Google Assistant talk — and sing — like Issa Rae, star and co-creator of HBO’s “Insecure.”

The actress-writer-producer is the latest celebrity to bring her voice to a digital virtual assistant. Rae is the second celeb cameo for Google Assistant, after singer John Legend’s mellifluous vocalizations came to the platform earlier this year. Amazon is getting in the game, too, recently announcing that a voice pack for Samuel L. Jackson will be coming to Alexa.

Rae’s voice is available as a cameo on the Google Assistant starting today (Oct. 10), available in English for a limited time in the U.S. for free. John Legend’s pipes are also still available as an option. To switch to Rae’s voice, users simply say “Hey Google, talk like Issa,” or select it in the “Assistant voice” settings section.

To bring her voice to Google Assistant, the tech giant used its speech-synthesis technology, WaveNet, which uses artificial intelligence to analyze speech patterns and then generates audio based on text input.

Rae said it required more than 40 hours of her saying “random sentences” in the recording booth to get the Google Assistant trained to replicate her speech. “One of the most fun days was just being myself – I give people compliments,” she said. Rae said listening to her own synthesized voice on Google Assistant was a bit bizarre: “I’ve heard it, and it’s me, which is very interesting.”

Popular on Variety

When she was first approached last year by Google about the project, she said, “I was like, ‘What? Me?’” While she was excited at the offer, she admitted, “I was a little scared… Google is huge, and I had never done anything like this.” Ultimately, she dove in: “I do consider myself to have a very helpful voice,” Rae said.

Once Rae’s voice is activated, Google Assistant users can ask for things like weather forecasts or answers to questions like, “When’s the first day of winter?” You can also ask Rae to tell a joke, sing a song, tell a secret, or provide a quote. There are also a few Easter eggs with Rae’s cameo, such as when you ask, “Hey Google, do you have any dating advice?” or “Hey Google, are you a writer?”

She can even provide a motivational message of encouragement, such as when you ask “How do I look?” Said Rae, “I am a big pumper-upper.”

All other responses will continue to be in one of the original Google Assistant voices. Rae’s cameo voice is available on any device that has the Google Assistant, including Google Home speakers, smart displays like the new Nest Hub Max, and on mobile for Android and iOS.

Rae has garnered an Emmy and two Golden Globe nominations for best comedy actress for her role in “Insecure.” She rose to prominence with her web series “The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl.” Her YouTube channel “Issa Rae Presents,” which has over 450,000 subscribers, on Oct. 17 will premiere drama series “King Ester” starring Angelica Ross (“Pose”) and Janet Hubert (“Fresh Prince of Bel-Air”).

She made her film debut in the acclaimed drama “The Hate U Give” and most recently starred in Universal Pictures’ “Little” and will star in two romantic-comedy movies out next year: Universal’s “The Photograph,” releasing on Feb. 14, and Paramount’s “The Lovebirds,” debuting April 3. Rae also is developing a re-imagined version of New Line’s 1996 thriller “Set It Off.”

Watch Issa Rae’s promo video for the new Google Assistant voice:

More Digital

  • Billy Magnussen Aladdin

    'Aladdin' Spinoff With Billy Magnussen's Character in the Works for Disney Plus

    Disney is developing a spinoff of its live-action “Aladdin” with Billy Magnussen reprising his Prince Anders character. The unnamed project is in early development for the studio’s recently launched Disney Plus streaming service. Disney has hired Jordan Dunn and Michael Kvamme to write a script centered on the haughty Prince Anders, one of Princess Jasmine’s [...]

  • Bernie Sanders Trump win

    Bernie Sanders Vows to Break Up Comcast, Verizon & AT&T: 'Their Greed Must End'

    Vermont Senator and Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders unveiled plans to launch publicly-funded broadband networks and break up big internet providers like Comcast, Verizon and AT&T Thursday. “Their greed must end,” the Sanders campaign wrote in its high-speed internet policy proposal. The campaign argued that high-speed internet access should be treated as a public utility, [...]

  • The Office

    Streaming Wars Heat Up Rerun Market as New Services Stock Up on Hits

    In a year in which more than 500 scripted series are on the air and new streaming services seem to debut nearly monthly, some of the biggest money being thrown around for content has gone to a handful of old TV shows, the kind that for years have hummed along evening television without much fuss. [...]

  • The Irishman

    'The Irishman' Nabs 17.1 Million U.S. Viewers on Netflix in First Five Days, per Nielsen

    Martin Scorsese’s mafia saga “The Irishman” was watched by 17.1 million unique Netflix viewers in the U.S. in the first five days of its streaming release, according to Nielsen estimates. By comparison, Sandra Bullock-starrer “Bird Box” scored nearly 26 million U.S. viewers in its first seven days of availability (Dec. 21-27, 2018) on Netflix, according [...]

  • Amazon, HBO Max, Netflix Dish on

    Amazon, HBO Max, Netflix Dish on Their International Plans

    It’s different strokes for different streaming folks as Amazon, HBO Max and Netflix lifted the lid on their international plans in London this week. Amazon said it’s not in the volume game and talked up a select number of hyper-local shows, while Netflix dished on plans to rev up non-English-language originals. The message from HBO [...]

  • NOBODY’S LOOKING

    Daniel Rezende on Netflix Brazilian Series ‘Nobody’s Looking’

    Having premiered on Netflix Nov. 22, “Nobody’s Looking” marks the first collaboration between Gullane and Netflix – their second, “Boca a Boca” is in development- and comes from a long list of new projects that the streaming giant has announced with it’s $87 Million investment in Brazilian content. The series embodies the streaming platform’s push [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content