Issa Rae has a new gig: the voice of Google Assistant

Is it us, or is there an arms race brewing for celebrity home assistants?

Issa Rae has a new gig: the voice of Google Assistant
[Photo: courtesy of Google]

There seems to be an arms race brewing among tech companies for celebrities to lend their voices to home assistants—and so far Google is winning with its latest addition: writer and producer Issa Rae.


The Insecure star follows singer John Legend as the latest celebrity cameo for Google Assistant. To switch to Rae’s voice, say “Hey Google, talk like Issa” or select her in the Assistant settings. And, according to a press release, there’s a list of Easter eggs created specifically for Rae:

  • Mirror talk
  • 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?
  • Give me an Issa Rae quote.
  • Compliment me.
  • Can you rap?
  • Can you beatbox?
  • Tell me a joke.
  • 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?
[Image: courtesy of Google]

Google leverages DeepMind’s WaveNet speech synthesis mode to create realistic-sounding voices without having to record hundreds of pages of dialogue and prompts. Using AI drastically shortens studio time, which would undoubtedly make Google Assistant a more attractive proposition for other celebrities.

Celebrity Assistant voices were first rolled out last April with Legend. Amazon’s Alexa followed suit with Samuel L. Jackson and, understandably, two versions: explicit and nonexplicit. Now Rae joins the list—and she certainly won’t be the last.


About the author

KC covers entertainment and pop culture for Fast Company. Previously, KC was part of the Emmy Award-winning team at "Good Morning America," where he was the social media producer.