Is Elizabeth Holmes’s Voice Fake?
Hulu’s eight-part limited series starring Amanda Seyfried, “The Dropout,” chronicles the rise and fall of Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes. The former tech entrepreneur was once poised to be the “next Steve Jobs” of healthcare, but as of last month, Holmes has been convicted on three charges of wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud by lying to investors. Each charge could get her up to 20 years in prison when she’s sentenced in November.
In addition to exploring the origin story of Holmes’s blood-testing tech company, Hulu’s series also traces the backstory of the self-made billionaire’s distinct baritone voice, which many believe she faked. Those who watched HBO’s 2019 documentary “The Inventor” — which details Holmes’s troubled history — or other recorded interviews will be familiar with Holmes’s oddly deep voice. However, people who knew her before she was in the spotlight say her voice wasn’t always like this. While “The Inventor” doesn’t dig into Holmes’s voice too much, “The Dropout,” the ABC News podcast about Theranos that inspired the new Hulu series, does. In episode two, “Myth-Making,” ABC’s Rebecca Jarvis talks to Holmes’s former colleagues and professors, who describe not only Holmes’s sartorial evolution as she rose to prominence (i.e. donning black turtlenecks every day), but her voice change.
“Some, like Phyllis Gardner, say even her voice also changed dramatically into a low, serious baritone,” Jarvis said, referring to the Stanford Medical School professor who told Holmes that one of her early ideas was physically impossible. “When she came to me, she didn’t have a low voice,” Gardner said. “It was just like a typical undergrad student. When I next saw her again, she’s in this low voice, and I’m like, ‘Oh my god.’ It was quite awkward.”
Seyfried recently talked about the challenge of imitating Holmes’s signature voice during a virtual panel at the Television Critics Association’s winter press tour, saying that she tried “different breathing and tricks” to achieve the effect. “I am a little worried about what people are going to say about the voice,” she said. “But at the end of the day, I’m an actor and I’m not her, and I did my best to try to capture the oddness of it.” Keep reading for a deeper dive into Holmes’s real voice.