Insecure’s Issa Rae Is the Next Voice of Google Assistant

This marks a departure from male-dominated voices

Issa Rae talking into a microphone with headphones on and Google chat bubbles on the side for Google Assistant
Issa Rae is a rare—possibly the first—woman to lend her voice to a smart speaker.
Google

Actress, writer and producer Issa Rae will be the next celebrity to make a cameo on Google Assistant. Rae’s voice is available for a limited time in the U.S. starting today.

Rae follows singer John Legend, who lent his voice in April.

As with the new Samuel L. Jackson voice skill for Amazon Alexa, users can ask for certain information from Rae, including the weather, news, jokes, motivational messages and answers to questions like, “When’s the first day of winter?”

Starting with “Hey Google,” users can ask:

  • “ … do I need an umbrella today?”
  • “ … tell me a secret.”
  • “ … what do you think of me?”
  • “ … give me a quote from Issa Rae.”
  • “ … sing a song.”
  •  “ … do you have any dating advice?”
  • Or “How do I look?” for “a confidence-boosting affirmation.”

All other responses except for the Easter eggs below will remain in one of the original Assistant voices.

Google didn’t respond to questions about why it picked Rae as Google Assistant’s next voice. However, in the blog post announcing Legend, Google Assistant vice president of product Manuel Bronstein said cameo voices were one of the top requests Google received from users.

Rae is likely the first female celebrity to lend her voice to a digital assistant from Amazon or Google, which dominate the smart speaker market in the U.S. In addition to Legend, Rae’s predecessors include comedian Stephen Colbert on Google subsidiary Waze in 2015, actor Morgan Freeman in 2016, Dateline host Keith Morrison in 2017 and DJ Khaled in 2019.

When asked about Rae as the first female voice, however, Google said the company doesn’t think of Google Assistant as having a particular gender, which is reflected in the name Google Assistant. It offers 12 voices for Google Assistant including Rae and Legend, which Google said represents a diverse mix.

When users set up a Google Home device, it randomly assigns a voice, so users have a 50/50 chance of getting either the “red” voice or the “orange” voice, according to Google. Even though the company doesn’t formally designate voices as being male or female, it said users can think of the “red” voice as traditionally female sounding and the “orange” voice as traditionally male sounding.

Easter eggs for Rae as Google Assistant include:

  • Are you single?
  • Do you have a TV show?
  • Give me some writing advice.
  • What do you think about Lawrence?
  • What is your best pickup line?
  • Are you awkward?
  • Do you know any yo momma jokes?
  • Compliment me.
  • Can you rap?
  • Can you beatbox?
  • Should I watch Insecure?
  • What was your major?
  • Are you a writer?
  • How do you pronounce your name?
  • What’s your full name?
  • What do you think of John Legend?
  • Do you love Daniel or Lawrence More?
  • Who is your best friend?
  • Do you ever talk to yourself in the mirror?

Google said it is pushing the new feature on Instagram on Thursday with “exclusive sneak peeks into Issa’s life on set.”

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