How to enable celebrity voices on your Amazon Echo

Samuel L Jackson as Alexa
Samuel L Jackson as Alexa (Image credit: Amazon)

Since 2019, Amazon Echo users have been able to call up Hollywood icon Samuel L. Jackson instead of Alexa and ask questions about anything from the weather to Snakes on a Plane. However, Echo users now can add a handful of celebrity voices to their devices, including the likes of Melissa McCarthy and Shaquille O'Neal. If you want to shake up how you interact with your Echo device, here's what you need to do to enable celebrity voices.

Enable celebrity voices on your Amazon Echo

Amazon Echo users can currently pick from three celebrity personalities: Samuel L. Jackson, Shaquille O'Neal, and Melissa McCarthy. Each celebrity voice is accessible via a one-time fee of $4.99. These are the steps you need to take to enable celebrity voices on your Amazon Echo device.

  1. Say, "Alexa, introduce me to CELEBRITY NAME."
  2. Choose the "Hey, CELEBRITY'S FIRST NAME" wake word.

When activating the celebrity voice skill on your Echo devices for the first time, you may be asked to say, "Alexa, enable CELEBRITY NAME." For some skills, you will also be asked to choose between the explicit and clean versions, which censors profanity. Then, all you need to do is say "Explicit" or "Clean version" with your command, or turn explicit content on or off in the Alexa app.

The "Hey, CELEBRITY NAME" wake word works for most voice-activated Echo devices in your home, excluding first-generation Echo and Echo Dot devices and wearables. Fire TV and Fire Tablets are also not supported at this time. Once you turn on the wake word, the celebrity voice will respond when you say their whole first name.

Users without a compatible device can also use "Alexa, ask CELEBRITY'S FIRST NAME." Additionally, you can search for celebrity voices by signing into your Amazon account in a web browser and navigating to the Alexa Skills tab or searching for the skill within the Alexa app on your phone.

Examples of questions you can ask

Once you've followed the steps to enable celebrity voices on your Amazon Echo, each of the celebrity personalities can respond to a variety of general topics, including questions about the weather, setting alarms, giving advice, and singing happy birthday. Samuel, Melissa, and Shaq can also answer a selection of questions about themselves and their careers. With that in mind, here are some examples of frequently asked questions:

  • "Hey Samuel, quote Pulp Fiction."
  • "Hey Samuel, what do you think of snakes?"
  • "Hey Samuel, how many times was the F-word said in Pulp Fiction?"
  • "Hey Samuel, who is your favorite Star Wars character?"
  • "Hey Melissa, tell me about Bridesmaids."
  • "Hey Shaq, drop a beat."
  • "Hey Shaq, let's warm-up."
  • "Hey Shaq, play rock, paper, scissors."

Unfortunately, Samuel, Melissa, and Shaq don't have full Alexa functionality. As such, they aren't able to help with shopping, lists, reminders, or skills at this time.

Family-friendly voice alternatives

Additionally, Amazon offers a selection of more family-friendly (and often free) alternatives, like the free add-on from The Tonight Show, which allows you to ask Alexa to have Jimmy Fallon tell a joke or read his monologue.

Amazon also recently added the ability to use the Santa Claus voice for free. All you need to do is say, "Alexa, enable 'Hey Santa'" or enable the feature under the Alexa Skills section in your Amazon account. If you have an Echo device in Kids mode, you can just open that device's settings section in the Alexa app, scroll down to the wake word section, and turn on "Hey Santa." Amazon also added several Christmas-themed questions to ask Santa, including the following:

  • "Hey Santa, am I naughty or nice?"
  • "Hey Santa, sing a song."
  • "Hey Santa, sing Jingle Bells."
  • "Hey Santa, sing Up on the Rooftop."
  • "Hey Santa, sing We Wish You a Merry Christmas."
  • "Hey Santa, sing the 12 Days of Christmas."
  • "Hey Santa, sing Deck the Halls."
  • "Hey Santa, tell me the North Pole news."

If you decide you no longer want to use the celebrity voices feature, you can continue using Alexa's default voice. All you need to do is say, "Hey Alexa," instead of your chosen celebrity.

Jeramy Johnson

Jeramy was the Editor-in-Chief of Android Central. He is proud to help *Keep Austin Weird* and loves hiking in the hill country of central Texas with a breakfast taco in each hand.