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(Pocket-lint) - Amazon has long offered the ability to change Alexa's voice to a celebrity voice. However, you had to manually enable a skill on Amazon's website to do so. Now, the company has made the process much easier, plus it's introduced new celebrity voices for you to try. Here's what you need to know, including how to easily change Alexa's voice.

Which celebs can replace Alexa's voice?

Amazon has its own version of Google Assistant cameo voices - but for Alexa devices, obviously - and it all started with Samuel L Jackson. Former NBA star Shaquille O’Neal and actress Melissa McCarthy are the latest personalities to lend their voice as a replacement for Alexa's voice. Either option can provide weather reports, jokes, and personal stories when asked.

Samuel L Jackson's voice, and presumably the others too, are mostly powered by Amazon’s neural text-to-speech model. Amazon leverages deepfake tech to create voices so that celebrities don't have to pre-record all their responses. While they do prep some canned answers, many, including ones about weather, etc, are likely neural responses generated by Amazon's model.

How to get a celebrity voice on your Echo

To quickly enable a celebrity voice, follow these steps:

  1. Say to your Echo:
    • “Alexa, introduce me to Shaq" or "enable Shaq".
    • “Alexa, introduce me to Melissa" or "enable Melissa".
    • “Alexa, introduce me to Samuel L Jackson”
  2. That's it. Now you can invoke either voice with a wake word.

To manually enable a celebrity voice, follow these steps:

  1. Purchase and install an Alexa celebrity voice skill via Amazon's website.
    1. Shaquille O’Neal's voice skill
    2. Melissa McCarthy's voice skill
    3. Samuel L Jackson's voice skill
  2. Confirm your purchase with Alexa.
  3. That's it. Now you can invoke either voice with a wake word.

Note: Interestingly, Amazon offers both explicit and clean versions of Samuel L Jackson’s voice. You can enable or disable explicit content via the Alexa app.

How to invoke a celebrity voice on Echo

Shaquille O’Neal

Just use the wake words “Hey Shaq". You can then say something like:

  • “Hey Shaq, drop a beat.”
  • “Hey Shaq, what’s the weather today?”
  • “Hey Shaq, tell me a joke.”
  • “Hey Shaq, how are you?”
  • “Hey Shaq, give me advice.”
  • “Hey Shaq, tell me a story.”
  • “Hey Shaq, let’s warm up.”
  • “Hey Shaq, play rock, paper, scissors.”

Melissa McCarthy

Use the wake words “Hey Melissa". You can then say something like:

  • “Hey Melissa, give me advice.”
  • “Hey Melissa, set an alarm for 7am.”
  • “Hey Melissa, what’s the weather today?”
  • “Hey Melissa, tell me about Bridesmaids.”
  • “Hey Melissa, good morning!”
  • “Hey Melissa, set a 10-minute timer.”
  • “Hey Melissa, how are you?”

Samuel L Jackson

For Jackson, say, “Alexa, ask Samuel L" Jackson", followed by a query.

  • “Hey Samuel, what’s the weather?”
  • “Hey Samuel, tell me a joke.”
  • “Hey Samuel, set an alarm for 7am.”
  • “Hey Samuel, tell me a story.”
  • “Alexa, ask Samuel to give me advice.”
  • “Alexa, ask Samuel what he thinks of snakes.”

How much do celebrity voices cost?

They each cost $4.99 in the US.

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Are celebrity voices on Echo English-only?

Yes, the ones currently available as an Alexa replacement are English-only.

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Writing by Maggie Tillman. Editing by Stuart Miles. Originally published on 16 July 2021.