What’s in a name?
For everyone, it’s a way of identifying themselves as a unique person. For celebrities, whose names are known across the world, a name is everything.
Some stars have chosen to use another alias in place of their birth name for various reasons. However, there are celebrities that many don’t realize are using a stage name in their career.
Here are 10 celebrities you didn’t know were using stage names.
1. Jamie Foxx
Born Eric Marlon Bishop, Foxx chose his stage name when he broke into comedy in the late 80s and early 90s. Following a challenge from his girlfriend to take the mic, he realized he needed a catchier name.
Foxx noticed that female comedians were often given priority over their male counterparts, so he chose Jamie due to his gender ambiguity. Foxx’s last name was chosen as a tribute to Redd Foxx, a black comedian best known for his role in the 70s sitcom Sanford and Son.
2. Brie Larson
Larson, born as Brianne Sidonie Desaulniers, adopted her stage name after growing tired of people having trouble pronouncing her birth name. She chose her first name as an abbreviation of her birth name, adding that she “never went by Brianne” anyway.
His chosen surname of Larson has a double meaning behind it. The first meaning is simply to honor his great-grandmother, whose last name was also Larson. The second is because of her favorite childhood doll, an American Girl doll named Kirsten Larson.
“I was sick of it, and as a result, I’m like, ‘I’m changing my name!’ Larson told People in 2016. “I’m changing it to Larson, so Kirsten can be in our family.”
3. Nicki Minaj
Minaj, born Onika Tanya Maraj-Petty, adopted her stage name later in her career. She started using the name after signing with Dirty Money Entertainment label in 2007.
She initially chose the stage name Nicki Maraj, but Fendi, the label’s CEO, suggested she go with Minaj instead.
“My real name is Maraj,” Minaj told Rap Industry. “Fendi knocked him down when he met me because I had such a mean flow!”
4. Natalie Portman
Portman was given the name Natalie Hershlag when she was born in Israel. After playing her first role in a feature film, Leon: The Professional in 1994, she adopted her paternal grandmother’s maiden name, Portman, to help protect her family’s privacy.
5. Guy Fieri
Fieri’s birth surname, Ferry, is actually an anglicization of his current surname.
Fieri changed his last name to its original spelling when he married his wife, Lori, in 1995 as a tribute to his grandfather, an Italian immigrant named Giuseppe Fieri.
6. Olivia Wilde
Photo: lev radin/Shutterstock
Wilde, born Olivia Jane Cockburn, adopted her stage name in high school. She made the choice to honor the many writers in her family, many of whom used pseudonyms. She chose the name Wilde out of respect for Irish author Oscar Wilde.
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“My mum thought it was a good idea for me too, so I could have my own identity apart from my family. She suggested I choose something Irish and something that would always inspire me” , Wilde told the New York Observer in 2007.
“Oscar Wilde is someone I respect for so many reasons – a revolutionary, a comedian and a deep thinker.”
7. Katy Perry
Perry, born Katheryn Elizabeth Hudson, has had a few stage names throughout her career.
She first adopted the name Katy Hudson when she released her self-titled debut album, but quickly changed it to Katheryn Perry to avoid confusion with actress Kate Hudson.
She ultimately settled on Katy Perry, with the last name honoring her mother’s maiden name.
8. Michael Keaton
Like Perry, Keaton, born Michael John Douglas, chose to adopt a stage name to avoid confusion with other stars.
When he first started auditioning for television roles, he used the name Michael Keaton to differentiate himself from actor Michael Douglas and daytime host Mike Douglas, according to the Screen Actors Guild.
Some have speculated that Keaton chose the surname due to an attraction to actress Diane Keaton, but he has denied those rumors. He has stated in interviews that he picked the name by flipping through a phone book.
“I feel bad! She’s probably really pissed off about this story! Truth is, I’m trying to figure out how John Cougar Mellencamp did it, because I love my name, I’m proud of my name. Douglas, you know, that’s my dad’s name,” Keaton told Grantland in 2012.
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9. Elton John
Photo: Featureflash Photo Agency / Shutterstock
John, born Reginald Kenneth Dwight, wanted to create a stage name as unique as himself. To do this, he was inspired by two of his comrades from the group Bluesology, which he founded in 1962.
“The band’s saxophonist was Elton Dean, a really good jazz saxophonist, and the only other Elton I could think of was Elton Hayes, who recorded the song ‘The Owl and the Pussycat,'” John said in a interview. for its CD set.
“So I took ‘Elton’ from Elton Dean and ‘John’ from Long John Baldry. I wanted to pick a name that nobody had, and it was that quick.
10. Miley Cyrus
Photo: Kathy Hutchins/Shutterstock
Born Destiny Hope Cyrus with hopes of accomplishing great things, Cyrus takes her stage name from a childhood nickname given to her by her parents. They gave her the nickname “Smiley” because of how often she smiled as a child, and she eventually shortened it to Miley.
Cyrus legally changed her name to Miley Ray Cyrus in 2008. Her middle name honors her grandfather Ronald Ray Cyrus, a Kentucky politician.
“His name was Ronald Ray Cyrus and a lot of people say Miley changed his name to Miley Ray because of Billy Ray, but that’s not true,” Miley’s father, Billy Ray Cyrus, told CNN in 2009.
“She did this in honor of my father, because they both loved each other.”
Regardless of how these stars chose their stage names, there’s no doubt that it cemented them as icons across the globe.
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Jonathan Alfano is a writer who focuses on current affairs and entertainment topics. Follow him on Twitter to follow its contents.