Check out this amazing list of celebrities who don’t actually use their real names!
Bruno Mars, Rihanna, John Legend – these names make you feel as though they were destined to achieve big in their lives the moment their parents decided to sign their birth certificate. However, not all were lucky and destined to rule over the world of entertainment. Instead, they charted their own paths, often using a stage name in order to open up new possibilities. Today, they are acclaimed household names and need no introduction. In this article, we have compiled a list of 40 well-known celebrities who decided to use their stage names and forgo their real birth names to work in the industry. Without further ado, let’s jump right into it!
Portia de Rossi
Birth name: Amanda Lee Rogers
In a recent interview, de Rossi went on to reveal how her birth name was actually Amanda and not Portia. She wanted a name that resembled with her identity as a gay person, and she finally settled for Portia. She also shared an interesting story why she actually chose Portia and not some other name. She’s apparently a big fan of Shakespeare, and as some of you already know, Portia was a character in Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice. She chose the surname de Rossi as she was quite fascinated with Italian surnames, the culture and overall awe that Europe generates.
Birth name: Alicia Augello-Cook
This famous singer and songwriter told in an interview recently that she actually wanted a name that was more apt for the stage, and the name idea she had in mind was “Alicia Wild”! – but her mom apparently refused. She told her that it actually made her sound like a stripper, and thus, was a big no. It was then that this leading singer decided to go for a more music-friendly name, Alicia Keys. She went on to say how her name could open so many doors, truly justifying her name.
Birth name: Belcalis Almanzar
Known as Cardi B all across the world, this musician was actually named Belcalis Almanzar at birth. Cardi B is simply a shortened version of Bacardi, just like the rum. She was called Bacardi by her friends and family, so she finally stuck to the name and later changed it to Cardi B.
Birth name: Neta-Lee Hershlag
Natalie Portman was born in Israel, and as a result, was a given a Hebrew name according to the traditions. However, when she emigrated to the United States back in 1984, the family decided to change the surname to Portman, which was earlier Hershlag. The first name of this Hollywood star comes from her grandmother’s maiden name, Neta-Lee, which evolved to Natalie! Quite cool, we must say.
Birth name: Christopher Catesby Harington
Famous Game of Thrones star, Kit Harington actually has a different birth name. In fact, he recently shared in an interview that he didn’t know that his first name was Christopher until he was eleven years old. He went on to share how Cristopher is a traditional name and Kit is actually an offshoot of that. Kit’s brother also has a different name. His real name is John, but he is actually known as Jack!
Lana Del Rey
Birth name: Elizabeth Woolridge Grant
Lana Del Rey was actually known as Lizzy (Elizabeth) Grant before she turned twenty-five years of age when she developed an alter ego, Lana Del Rey.
Birth name: Olivia Cockburn
We often wonder if Olivia Wilde’s name was actually an ode to the famous Irish poet and playwright, Oscar Wilde. And we were right, indeed! In a recent interview, she confessed how her stage name is actually an ode to the famous poet Oscar Wilde. She decided to change her surname after she donned the role of Gwendolen in her high school play on Oscar Wilde’s “The Importance of Being Earnest”.
Birth name: Erica Abi Wright
This famous American singer and songwriter wasn’t really known as Erykah at birth. Instead, she was named Erica, but because she believed that the original spelling was actually a slave name, she changed it into “Erykah”. She also explained in a recent interview that “Kah” meant the inner self. She also chose the surname “Badu”, as it reminded her of jazz scat sound, and which is also an African name used for the tenth child born to Akan people.
Birth name: Ashley Frangipane
Most fans believe that Hasley made up her stage name using her first name as an anagram. However, Ashley was actually quite inspired and impressed by a quiet street in Brooklyn, where one of her friends lived. She revealed that this place was close to her heart as she would often come to her friend’s place to create music away from her New Jersey home.
Birth name: Shelton Lee
This famous Hollywood director wasn’t always called Spike. He was, in fact, named Shelton at his birth, but because he was always a tough baby, his mother named him “Spike” – and it stuck.
Birth name: Amanda Leigh Moore
We love her singing as much as her acting. But, do you know that her birth name isn’t actually Mandy? In fact, she was named Amanda by her parents. She changed it to Mandy before getting into singing as she felt that her actual name was too commonplace. This Candy singer has bagged nomination for Golden Globe Award for her role in comedy drama series This is Us.
Birth name: Courtney Michelle Harrison
If you really believed this rock star’s surname was actually “Love”, you are clearly mistaken. Having one of the most awesome stage names ever, Courtney decided to go back to her original surname in the year 2010.
She said that she likes that name when she is performing on stage, but doesn’t quite like it in her life otherwise.
Birth name: Caryn Johnson
We’ve all wondered what Whoopi Goldberg’s real name is, and she didn’t disappoint her fans on the Graham Norton Show. She revealed that she would always act like a “whoopee cushion” when she started out, and hence the name. She further joked that she would always have to walk away from the stage farting, and people would call her a whoopee cushion! That’s quite an interesting story behind choosing a stage name!
Birth name: Joaquín Rafael Bottom
If you believed Joaquin Phoenix was the birth name of this great actor, you were wrong. He was named Joaquin Rafael Bottom at birth, and he spent the initial years of his life as part of the Bottom family. However, his parents later left the religious group and decided to use Phoenix as their surname.
Birth name: Adam Richard Wiles
While everyone has a reason behind choosing a particular stage name, Calvin Harris has a very interesting one. He revealed that his first track was a soulful track, so he wanted himself to be more ambiguous racially, and he stuck with it. In fact, no one knew this until his ex-girlfriend, Taylor Swift gave a shout-out at one of the leading music awards, where she called him “Adam”.
Birth name: Christopher Edwin Breaux
The famous musician, Frank Ocean, was actually given the birth name Edwin Breaux. However, he felt the name wasn’t apt and cool enough for a musician. And it was then that he decided to change his name on his birthday one year. He revealed in a 2011 interview that he went straight to LegalZoom and made the change straight away, and admits that he felt cool after that.
Birth name: Ilyena Lydia Mironoff
Helen Mirren is perhaps one of the best actresses this world has ever seen. However, what most people don’t know about her is that her birth name was Ilyena Lydia Mironoff. Her father then changed the surname from Mironoff to Mirren, and then Ilyena chose the first name as Helen when she decided to become an actress.
Birth name: Eric Marlon Bishop
Jamie Foxx shared a very interesting reason behind choosing this particular stage name. He recalled that when he started out as a standup comedian, he would notice that most people were guys and rarely any girl would show up, which allowed him to get a slot quite easily. So, in order to get a spot with relative ease, he decided to go for a unisex name and as they say, the rest is history!
Birth name: Julie Anne Smith
Similar to how Emma Watson changed her first name from Emily, Julie Anne Smith got to know that Julie Anne Smith was already in the Screen Actors Guild (SAG). What surprised her even more is that there was a Julie Smith as well, so she had no other option than to change her name.
She revealed that since her father’s name was Peter Moore Smith and her mother’s name was Anne Smith, she decided to use both of their names in order to keep both of them happy!
Birth name: John Roger Stephens
John Legend revealed in a 2008 interview that he wasn’t actually named John Legend at birth. In fact, his friends started calling him that, and he decided to use that as his stage name. He goes on to share that there came a time when he was known more by his nickname than his real name. He finally decided to take it up as stage name and we must agree, he has definitely lived up to his name.
Birth name: Abel Makkonen Tesfaye
It’s quite obvious that one simply doesn’t have a first name “The”, and last name “Weeknd”! The singer’s real name is actually Abel Makkonen Tesfaye.
During a recent Reddit Ask Me Anything session, the singer was asked the reason behind choosing this particular name. He shared the story of how he as a seventeen-year-old boy dropped out of his high school and convinced one of his friends (now crew member) to do the same. He goes on to share how he grabbed a mattress and left his home one weekend – never to return again. Finally, he wanted a stage name after the same, but couldn’t do, so there was already a Canadian band with the name The Weekend, so he decided to drop an “e”. And as they say, the rest is history!
Birth name: Irina Shaykhlislamova
Irina Shayk actually has the last name Shaykhlislamova, which was revealed when one person caught a glimpse of a legal deed she was carrying for her apartment in Manhattan. While we don’t know the story behind her name change, it is most probably because she felt it was too long and could make people mispronounce her name.
Birth name: Ella Marija Lani Yelich-O’Connor
This New Zealand-born musician uses her stage name Lorde only while performing on stage, she revealed at a recent interview. She shared that she prefers being called Ella, instead of Lorde by her friends and family. The reason behind choosing this name? She said that rationale behind choosing Lorde as a stage name was that she needed a name that had more grandeur and strength to it, which her birth name didn’t have – according to her.
Birth name: Vera Mindy Chokalingam
Mindy Kaling wasn’t given birth name Mindy. In fact, the actress shared that she has roots in India, and her parents wanted her to have a Hindu name, but she always wanted her middle name. She jokingly adds that Vera isn’t the name of some eighty-year-old Russian lady, it is the name of a Hindu goddess. So, this actress decided to choose her middle name as her first name. To shorten her surname, she changed it to Kaling and has stuck to it since then.
Birth name: Elizabeth Stamatina Fey
This famous actress and comedian at birth name isn’t Tina Fey, but Elizabeth Stamatina Fey. The actress shared in an interview that Tina is actually a shortened version of her middle name, Stamatina.
Birth name: Norma Jeane Mortenson
This isn’t exactly a secret anymore, but for those of you who don’t know yet, Marilyn Monroe actually grew up as Norma Jeane. Well, actually, she was born with the last name Mortenson, then baptized to last name Baker, and then finally married into Gougherty! However, do you actually know how she came to be known as Marilyn?
According to a leading newspaper, the actress decided to let go of her first husband’s name because she was told by a studio executive that people would pronounce it all wrong, and will have different interpretations. In order to get over this, she was suggested the last name “Monroe”, which is actually a name of her maternal side of the family. The first name, however, was given to her by the studio executive as she often reminded him of the famous 1920s Broadway star Marilyn Miller.
Birth name: Rachel Meghan Markle
Most of you most probably already know the fact that Meghan Markle’s first name is not really Meghan, but Rachel. However, her birth name does not really matter, as she is a Duchess now.
Birth name: Jelena Noura Hadid
Only the true fans of this famous supermodel know that she actually uses a pseudonym. She was given the birth name of Jelena and was nicknamed Gigi quite early in her life. She shared in an interview how her mother was called Gigi by her (Gigi’s) maternal grandma, and when she was young, her mom started calling her Gigi as well.
However, Gigi actually decided to stick to that name when she was in grade school and she shared another interesting story behind her move. She recollects how another girl named Helena was in her class, which confused the teacher. This prompter Gigi and her parents to finally settle for Gigi as her first name.
Birth name: Laura Jeanne Reese Witherspoon
Reese Witherspoon actually wasn’t named that at her birth. She decided to adopt her mother’s maiden name as her first name when she was just starting out in the industry and has since stuck to it.
Birth name: Destiny Hope Cyrus
Miley Cyrus also has a stage name – one she actually took from her childhood. Apparently, she was always smiling during her childhood, so her family nicknamed her Smiley, which later evolved to “Miley”. Finally, she changed her name legally in the year 2008 and continues to be known as Miley Cyrus. Her birth name, however, was Destiny Hope Cyrus. In the hindsight, that name was actually cool as well!
Birth name: Aubrey Drake Graham
This famous actor-turned-rapper was actually known as Aubrey Graham on the Canadian high school TV series Degrassi: The Next Generation. However, he finally decided to change his name to Drake when he decided to be a rapper.
Birth name: Christopher Ashton Kutcher
This Two and a half men star confessed at the 2013 edition of the Teen Choice Awards that he actually feels like an old guy and his name isn’t really Ashton, but Christopher. Ashton is his middle name and he decided to forego his first name when he started working in the industry.
Birth name: Deme Gene Guynes
Demi Moore wasn’t actually this star’s real name. She married the famous rock musician Freddy Moore way back when she was only seventeen years old, and thus, took his last name. Even though she divorced him after five years, she decided to let her surname be Moore, and she continues to use the same stage name even today.
Birth name: Peter Gene Hernandez
This singer, in an interview with a leading magazine, revealed his real name to the reporters. Although he was given Peter Hernandez as his birth name, he was nicknamed Bruno because of his striking similarity to the wrestler by the same name, Bruno Sammartino. However, when the singer found that Bruno Hernandez wasn’t really working for him in the industry, he decided to go with the stage name Bruno Mars.
Birth name: Onika Tanya Maraj
This leading female rapper revealed in an interview with The Guardian that she didn’t even get to pick her own stage name, and it was chosen by someone else for her! She revealed how a person at the production house convinced her to go with the name Minaj and she gave in. However, she conceded that her family and friends still call her Onika, and when she is performing, her fans call her Nicki Minaj.
Birth name: Katheryn Elizabeth Hudson
This “I Kissed A Girl” singer revealed that she decided to go for a stage name when she was an adolescent. She shared that she felt a sort of identity crisis and the name and the character was created out of protection. She adds on that she felt quite intimidated by her birth name Katheryn Elizabeth Hudson, but feels at home with her stage name.
Birth name: Robyn Rihanna Fenty
This international pop star wasn’t always known as Rihanna. In fact, Rihanna is actually her middle name. Her first name is Robyn, and she confessed in an interview that her family and friends still call her Robyn in order to get her attention. She goes on to say that she is tired of hearing Rihanna all the time, so when somebody actually uses her first name, she pays attention.
Birth name: Emily Jean Stone
The La La Land actress recently confessed in a magazine interview that she had to change her name as there was already an Emily Stone in the industry. To avoid confusion, she changed her name to Emma Stone. She also went on to add that most of the people in the industry actually just call her M.
Birth name: William Bradley Pitt
Brad Pitt has always been known by his middle name all his professional life, and his first name is actually William. This newly single star introduces himself as William at parties and other social occasions.
Birth name: Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta
Before Lady Gaga became a household name all across the world, she was actually known as Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta. She adopted a stage name for herself after the famous 1984 Queen song called “Radio Ga Ga”. Rest, they say, is history.