Coming Soon: Samuel L. Jackson as Amazon’s Alexa

It's an increasingly popular way to encourage people to use voice tech

"Alexa, ask Samuel L. Jackson for the weather."
Amazon

You can soon ask Alexa to introduce you to Samuel L. Jackson. The prolific actor is the latest celebrity to lend his distinct vocal chords to a voice-enabled platform—and more high-profile voices are reportedly to come from Amazon’s Alexa.

According to an Amazon listing, the upcoming Jackson voice skill will be available later this year with an introductory price of $0.99. After an unspecified period of time, it will rise to $4.99.

Amazon

Users who want to hear Jackson’s voice should ask Alexa to introduce them to the prolific actor and confirm the purchase. And, given Jackson’s salty language, which is widely known, they must then also enable or disable explicit language—but can switch in the settings menu of the Alexa app if they change their minds later. Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the new skill.

Once enabled, Jackson will give listeners the weather, play music, tell jokes, set alarms and timers, sing happy birthday and share personal details, such as where he’s from, his favorite color, his interests and his career.

He will not, however, add anything to your cart or nudge you to do something.

“Although he can do a lot, Sam won’t be able to help with shopping, lists, reminders or skills,” the listing cautions. Instead, the Hollywood legend is “here to add some fun to your Alexa experience.”

The use of famous voices as digital assistants is certainly nothing new. Amazon played with the concept in its 2018 Super Bowl commercial with cameos by Cardi B, Gordon Ramsey, Rebel Wilson and Sir Anthony Hopkins.

In April, Google Assistant added singer John Legend’s voice “as a cameo … in English for a limited time in the U.S.” (Because Amazon customers are paying for Jackson’s voice, the skill may not have an expiration date).

Users enabled the Legend functionality by saying, “Hey Google, talk like a Legend.” Legend’s voice responded to requests for jokes, inquiries about why the sky is blue, as well as questions about his personality, family life and affinity for music. All other responses, however, remained in one of Google Assistant’s regular voices.

“Cameo voices on the Assistant have been one of the top requests we’ve heard from you and with the help of state-of-the-art speech synthesis model, WaveNet, they’re now a reality,” wrote Manuel Bronstein, vice president of product at Google Assistant, in a blog post.

Arguably, Google subsidiary Waze is at the forefront of this practice of borrowing celebrity voices, with comedian Stephen Colbert in 2015, followed by actor Morgan Freeman in 2016, Dateline host Keith Morrison in 2017 and DJ Khaled in 2019.

According to the 19-second YouTube video announcing Khaled as the newest Waze voice sponsored by Deezer, the online streaming service, Khaled is “here to guide your path to greatness,” but is available for a limited time.

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