Executive Special Edition: Expert of the Week: Susan "Siri" Bennett

Susan Bennett

The Original Voice of Siri

What is your professional background?

 I started off as a singer, first at Brown, then in different duos and bands in Atlanta. I also sang jingles for radio and TV commercials.

 

What sparked your interest in voiceovers?

I got into voiceovers by accident. One day, after I finished singing a jingle in a group with other singers, the voice actor didn’t show up to read the copy for the spot. The studio owner asked me to do it, since I didn't have an accent. I found that I could do it pretty easily, so I got a voice coach, then an agent, and I've been working in voiceovers ever since.

 

How did you become the original voice of Siri?

I don't really know! I did some recordings for a text-to-speech company called ScanSoft (which became Nuance) in 2005, which I thought were recordings for phone systems. I guess, technically, Siri could be considered phones system, but I have no idea who chose my voice or when.

 

What can businesses use voiceovers for?

Basically anything....commercials, promos, narrations for instructional videos. A professional voice just makes everything sound more professional and more pleasing to whoever is listening.

 

What software do you use with your work?

ProTools.

 

What are some of the “unspoken rules” of this profession?

Well, the same rules that apply to any professional work. There are no specific rules, but there are skills required to do it right.

 

What is something you wish more non-voiceover professionals knew in order to better understand your work?

That VO is more than having a pleasing or interesting voice. It’s basically acting with the voice, and requires skills, such as being able to read well within a specific amount of time, and knowing how to use a microphone.

 

What do you foresee in the near future for voiceovers?

That's hard to say with Artificial intelligence looming on the horizon. Right now most of the work is being done through internet companies, who are mostly non-union, and who work with the talent directly.

 

What about the long term?

I have no idea! I guess once corporations perfect the technology, I suppose we could see machines doing VO, although I’m not sure they’ll ever be able to get the real ebb and flow of the human voice.

 

What books/blogs/materials would you recommend to learn more about voiceovers and vocals?

www.lwantToBeAVoiceActor.com. Also just Google voice actors and voice coaches.

Several of them have written books, or have websites with advice for prospective voice actors.

 

What advice would you give to someone interested in becoming involved with voiceovers and vocals?

Contact me through my website, www.SusanCBennett.com, and l'll email you a doc I put together that has some suggestions on how to get started.  

 

Please put “VO Advice” in the subject of your email.

 

Follow Susan on Twitter, @SiriouslySusan.