Susan Bennett is a voice actor, singer and musician who is most famously known as the female American voice of ‘Siri’. But before any of the Siri fame, Susan Bennett’s career began with her work for a commercial for First National Bank of Atlanta. She would go on to perform voice over work for the public address system in all Delta Airlines terminals worldwide, as well as appearing on sat-nave, telephone systems and numerous national television advertisements. Susan Bennett became the voice of ‘Siri’ without really even knowing about it. She spent a whole month recording the words and phrases we all now know and love, whilst doing work for a software company called ScanSoft. It wasn’t until a friend emailed her to tell her that her voice was now carried around in the pockets of everyone who had purchased the new iPhone 4S in October, 2011. Given her astronomical rise to fame, I was very excited to talk books with Susan. So please enjoy, my interview with Susan Bennett…
When someone asks you ‘what do you do for a living?’ – How do you respond?
I’m a singer, musician, and voice actor.
I am currently reading The Trespasser by Tana French.
What’s your earliest memory of reading?
In second grade, I was so envious of a fellow classmate, Nancy Lawton, who could read anything aloud flawlessly! I really wanted to do that, so I remember getting all kinds of books from the library to practice!
If you could encourage young people to read one book in particular, what would it be?
That’s a tough one, but I’d have to say Key to Yourself by Venice Bloodworth; of course, it depends on the age of the young people you’re referring to! This book was given to me by a friend years ago. It’s a very positive self help book that was written in 1952, long before our mountain of new age philosophy books hit the shelves.
What is the worst job you’ve ever had?
I’ve been very fortunate not to have many bad jobs. I’ve played music and done voiceovers for most of my life. The hardest VO job was reading the text-to-speech scripts which became the basic vocabulary for the voice of Siri…very tedious. Musically, I can think of a couple of weddings my band had to play that were pretty bad, but when you consider we had our band for 25 years, that’s pretty good!
Do you read as much as you’d like to?
Yes, I do. I read every night before bed at the very least. Don’t forget I read as part of my job, too!
What books do you feel are important reading for people on your career path?
I don’t know any specific books to recommend, but I do recommend that prospective VO actors find a good coach. For this particular purpose, listening and speaking are more helpful than just reading.
Once again, Key to Yourself by Venice Bloodworth. It’s the kind of book you can flip through and land on a page that gives you just what you need at the time. It’s quite magical!
What book have you recommended the most to friends and family?
See the above question! I’d have to say Key to Yourself by Venice Bloodworth again!
What’s your favourite genre of book?
I mostly read fiction, and I try to mix it up between contemporary literature and mystery/thriller. I’m a bit of a sucker for Michael Connelly.
What do you think a world without books would be like?
Not good. I hope it’s never an issue I’ll have to deal with. Reading is so good for people. It stimulates the brain as well as the imagination, and promotes actual thinking and introspection. I just don’t think absorbing information through TV or other visual media requires as much of an intellectual investment that reading does. We all need to keep using those computers between our own ears so as not to lose the capability!
Is there an author whose writing you’re such a fan of, that you’ll read everything they release?
I just read Here I Am by Jonathan Foer, and I will definitely read his first two. His prose and his observations about life are stunning, perspicacious (one of my favorite words!). It’s a very intense read though, I had to read a mystery first to cleanse the palate!
Do you think digital books will ever completely replace real books?
Probably, although not for many “old-schoolers.” I’d hate to see it happen, but I myself use a Kindle because I can carry hundreds of books with me that way. If there’s a book that I think will require some underlining, I’ll buy the hard copy.
What book do you feel humanity needs right now?
Wow, what a question! I fear that the humans that could use an influential book right now are the very ones that don’t read. Ah, the humanity!
It would probably be either Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger in high school or In Cold Blood by Truman Capote in college. Both were incredible eye openers, in addition to being beautifully written.
Are there any books you haven’t mentioned that you feel would make your reading list?
So many! I like a lot of contemporary female writers, and I prefer books that are character studies moreso than ones that are plot oriented.
What books or subject matter do you plan on reading in the next year?
I’m sure I’ll read more fiction, but I also like biographies and autobiographies. I’ve been studying Spanish for awhile too, so I’m hoping to read more books in Spanish – it’s not exactly fun, though; it’s more like work (looking up vocabulary), which kind of misses the point of reading for me, so we’ll see.
If you were to write an autobiography – what would it be called?