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May 19, 2024

How the voices for ChatGPT were chosen

We worked with industry-leading casting and directing professionals to narrow down over 400 submissions before selecting the 5 voices.

Asset > How the voices for ChatGPT were chosen

May 22, 2024 update: We want to provide additional information about the timeline, so we've updated it with additional milestones and dates, including Sam's initial outreach to Ms. Johansson.

A statement from our CEO, Sam Altman, on May 20, 2024: “The voice of Sky is not Scarlett Johansson's, and it was never intended to resemble hers. We cast the voice actor behind Sky’s voice before any outreach to Ms. Johansson. Out of respect for Ms. Johansson, we have paused using Sky’s voice in our products. We are sorry to Ms. Johansson that we didn’t communicate better.”

Voice Mode is one of the most beloved features in ChatGPT. Each of the five distinct voices you hear has been carefully selected through an extensive process spanning five months involving professional voice actors, talent agencies, casting directors, and industry advisors. We’re sharing more on how the voices were chosen.

In September of 2023, we introduced voice capabilities to give users another way to interact with ChatGPT. Since then, we are encouraged by the way users have responded to the feature and the individual voices. Each of the voices—Breeze, Cove, Ember, Juniper and Sky—are sampled from voice actors we partnered with to create them.

We support the creative community and collaborated with the voice acting industry

We support the creative community and worked closely with the voice acting industry to ensure we took the right steps to cast ChatGPT’s voices. Each actor receives compensation above top-of-market rates, and this will continue for as long as their voices are used in our products.

We believe that AI voices should not deliberately mimic a celebrity's distinctive voice—Sky’s voice is not an imitation of Scarlett Johansson but belongs to a different professional actress using her own natural speaking voice. To protect their privacy, we cannot share the names of our voice talents.

We partnered with award-winning casting directors and producers to create the criteria for voices

In early 2023, to identify our voice actors, we had the privilege of partnering with independent, well-known, award-winning casting directors and producers. We worked with them to create a set of criteria for ChatGPT's voices, carefully considering the unique personality of each voice and their appeal to global audiences.

Some of these characteristics included:

  • Actors from diverse backgrounds or who could speak multiple languages

  • A voice that feels timeless

  • An approachable voice that inspires trust

  • A warm, engaging, confidence-inspiring, charismatic voice with rich tone

  • Natural and easy to listen to

We received over 400 submissions from voice and screen actors

On May 10, 2023, the casting agency and our casting directors issued a call for talent. In under a week, they received over 400 submissions from voice and screen actors. To audition, actors were given a script of ChatGPT responses and were asked to record them. These samples ranged from answering questions about mindfulness to brainstorming travel plans, and even engaging in conversations about a user's day.

We selected five final voices and discussed our vision for human-AI interactions and the goals of Voice Mode with the actors

Through May 2023, the casting team independently reviewed and hand-selected an initial list of 14 actors. They further refined their list before presenting their top voices for the project to OpenAI.

We spoke with each actor about the vision for human-AI voice interactions and OpenAI, and discussed the technology’s capabilities, limitations, and the risks involved, as well as the safeguards we have implemented. It was important to us that each actor understood the scope and intentions of Voice Mode before committing to the project.

An internal team at OpenAI reviewed the voices from a product and research perspective, and after careful consideration, the voices for Breeze, Cove, Ember, Juniper and Sky were finally selected.

Each actor flew to San Francisco for recording sessions and their voices were launched into ChatGPT in September 2023

During June and July, we flew the actors to San Francisco for recording sessions and in-person meetings with the OpenAI product and research teams.

On September 11, 2023, Sam spoke with Ms. Johansson and her team to discuss her potential involvement as a sixth voice actor for ChatGPT, along with the other five voices, including Sky. She politely declined the opportunity one week later through her agent.

On September 25, 2023, we launched their voices into ChatGPT.

This entire process involved extensive coordination with the actors and the casting team, taking place over five months. We are continuing to collaborate with the actors, who have contributed additional work for audio research and new voice capabilities in GPT-4o.

On May 10, 2024, Sam contacted Ms. Johansson’s team to inform them about our upcoming launch of GPT-4o and asked if she might reconsider joining as a future additional voice in ChatGPT.

New Voice Mode coming to GPT-4o for paid users, and adding new voices

On May 13, 2024, we introduced GPT-4o. We plan to give access to a new Voice Mode for GPT-4o(opens in a new window) in alpha to ChatGPT Plus users in the coming weeks. With GPT-4o, using your voice to interact with ChatGPT is much more natural. GPT-4o handles interruptions smoothly, manages group conversations effectively, filters out background noise, and adapts to tone.

Since May 15, 2024, we’ve been in conversation with Ms. Johansson’s team to discuss her concerns about Sky. Out of respect for her concerns, we’ve paused the use of Sky in our products as of May 19, 2024.

Looking ahead, you can expect even more options as we plan to introduce additional voices in ChatGPT to better match the diverse interests and preferences of users.