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When you've got a name that's too complicated to pronounce or a name that just doesn't suit your creative persona, going by a stage name is far easier than embracing your government name! These 20 celebrities are best known by their stage names, but we bet you never knew their real names!

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Miley Cyrus

Miley Cyrus’s career began on Disney Channel where she played Miley Stewart — also known as Hannah Montana. Surprisingly enough, Miley had a double identity herself and was named Destiny Hope Cyrus. Miley got her named legally and permanently changed in 2008, ditching her given name. Sticking to her real name just wasn’t Miley's ‘Destiny.’

HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 07: Miley Cyrus attends the Tom Ford AW20 show at Milk Studios on February 7, 2020 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images) David M. Benett/Getty Images
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Mindy Kaling

Born Vera Mindy Chokalingam, it was a lot easier for Hollywood to recognize the Mindy Project actress as just Mindy Kaling. Chokalingam shortened her last name to Kaling in hope that fewer syllables would lead to more success in her acting career!

NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 09: Mindy Kaling attends day 1 of POPSUGAR Play/Ground on June 9, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images for POPSUGAR Play/Ground) Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images
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Jamie Foxx

With a name like Jamie Foxx, it’s no surprise that this name was hand-picked in exchange for a complicated birth name. In an interview with David Letterman, Jamie Foxx, or Eric Marlon Bishop, explained why he changed his name in the early days of his career. According to Foxx, more people would attend shows for a unisex sounding name rather than a typically male name. "So I went to the list and wrote down a unisex name... Jamie Foxx” — simple syllables to take Foxx straight to the top.

Jamie Foxx attends the "Just Mercy" premiere during the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival at Roy Thomson Hall on September 06, 2019 in Toronto, Canada. Emma McIntyre / Getty Images
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Lana Del Rey

Before kicking her career off under the stage name Lana Del Rey, Elizabeth Woolridge Grant went by several aliases — Lizzy Grant, Sparkle Jump Rope Queen, and May Jailer. Although none of these names came with the sort of elegance and enchantment that you feel when you hear Lana Del Ray.

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA - SEPTEMBER 30: Singer-songwriter Lana Del Rey performs on stage at Rogers Arena on September 30, 2019 in Vancouver, Canada. (Photo by Andrew Chin/Getty Images) Andrew Chin/Getty Images
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Nicki Minaj

Born Onika Tanya Maraj, Nicki Minaj picked out a name similar to her own and still prefers to be called Onika by her close friends and family. The rapper changed her last name against her will. She states in an interview, "One of the first production deals I signed, the guy wanted my name to be Minaj and I fought him tooth and nail. But he convinced me."

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MAY 06: Nicki Minaj arrives for the 2019 Met Gala celebrating Camp: Notes on Fashion at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 06, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Karwai Tang/Getty Images) Karwai Tang/Getty Images
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Bruno Mars

Peter Gene Hernandez doesn't roll off the tongue quite like Bruno Mars does. The "Finesse" singer was inspired by wrestler Bruno Sammartino when he was generating a stage name, and thus Bruno Mars was born!

NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 25: Bruno Mars visits at SiriusXM Studio on October 25, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Robin Marchant/Getty Images) Robin Marchant/Getty Images
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Calvin Harris

In an attempt to put together a "racially ambiguous" name, Adam Richard Wiles came up with the stage name Calvin Harris. Wiles thought his debut track would receive more traction if people couldn't tell that he was white, given the majority of successful DJ’s at the time were people of color.

ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 14: Recording artist Calvin Harris performs onstage during Power 96.1's Atlanta Jingle Ball on December 14, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Marcus Ingram/Getty Images for iHeartMedia) Marcus Ingram/Getty Images
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Gigi Hadid

The American Model was given the nickname Gigi in grade school and soon enough Jelena Noura Hadid became the famous Gigi Hadid! The model revealed that her mother was also called Gigi during her childhood, and Gigi Hadid felt more like herself than ever.

LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 30: Model Gigi Hadid attends the 2015 MTV Video Music Awards at Microsoft Theater on August 30, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images) Frazer Harrison/Getty Images
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Frank Ocean

Although Frank Ocean's name fits his musical vibe well, the "Novacane" singer was born Christopher Edwin Breaux! After legally changing his name to Frank Ocean in 2010, he recalls this moment as being one of the most empowering moments of his life!

MANCHESTER, TN - JUNE 14: Frank Ocean during the performs during the 2014 Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival on June 14, 2014 in Manchester, Tennessee. (Photo by Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images) Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images
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Natalie Portman

Israeli-born actress Natalie Portman changed her name after emigrating to the United States. Neta-Lee Hershlag then became Neta-Lee Portman, a name Hollywood knows best as Natalie Portman!

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 07: Natalie Portman visits "Late Night With Jimmy Fallon" on November 7, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images) Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images
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Alicia Keys

Keys was too good of a last name for a professional piano player, so the fact that Alicia Keys is actually Alicia Augello-Cook isn't too hard a pill to swallow. At first, the singer was considering the name Alicia Wild but thought it sounded too much like a stripper name and nothing fits a piano prodigy better than Keys!

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - DECEMBER 12: Alicia Keys attends Billboard Women In Music 2019, presented by YouTube Music, on December 12, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for Billboard) Emma McIntyre/Getty Images
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Katy Perry

Under her real name Katheryn Hudson, believe it or not — Katy Perry used to make Christian pop music! Upon transforming into Katy Perry, the singer debuted her first single "I Kissed A Girl" and the rest is history!

HOLLYWOOD, CA - SEPTEMBER 08: Singer Katy Perry is honored during her hand print ceremony at TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX Forecourt on September 8, 2015 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images) Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images
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Portia De Rossi

Born Amanda Lee Rogers, Portia De Rossi’s total name change was inspired by William Shakespeare's "The Merchant of Venice." Ever since the Australian actress was 15, she dropped the mainstream ‘Amanda’ and went by her Italian stage name!

LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 17: Portia de Rossi attends the premiere of Netflix's 'Arrested Development' Season 5 at Netflix FYSee Theater on May 17, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Rich Fury/Getty Images) Rich Fury/Getty Images
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Dakota Fanning

Dakota has spent her entire life in the limelight. Making it big under the name Dakota Fanning, Hannah Fanning had no reason to revert to her true first name!

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 19: Dakota Fanning attends the 26th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at The Shrine Auditorium on January 19, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images) Frazer Harrison/Getty Images
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Olivia Wilde

Inspired by iconic author Oscar Wilde, Olivia Cockburn changed her name to Olivia Wilde after starring in her high school's production of "The Importance of Being Earnest." Not to mention the countless jokes that were made about her real last name...bet she couldn’t wait to get rid of that one!

UNSPECIFIED - MAY 16: In this screengrab, Olivia Wilde speaks during Graduate Together: America Honors the High School Class of 2020 on May 16, 2020. Getty Images / Getty Images Entertainment
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Cardi B

Belcalis Almanzar used to go by the nickname Bacardi — yes, like the rum — while her sister was nicknamed Hennessy — yes, like the cognac. While pursuing a career in rap and television, Bacardi got shortened to Cardi B, and Cardi B blew up into the hottest female rapper in the music industry!

AUSTIN, TEXAS - OCTOBER 06: Cardi B performs in concert during week one of the ACL Festival at Zilker Park on October 6, 2019 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Gary Miller/Getty Images) Gary Miller/Getty Images
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John Legend

Though he claims he never came up with the last name Legend, John Roger Stephens grew to enjoy his childhood nickname. In an interview with MTV News, he said "People are going to pay attention and I'm either going to live up to my name or I'm not. My bet was on me trying to live up to the name." Luckily, this legend became the first black man to ever win an EGOT award — an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and a Tony award!

John Legend performs onstage during the "Hillary Clinton: She's With Us" concert at The Greek Theatre on June 6, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images) Kevin Winter/Getty Images
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Lady Gaga

Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta doesn't roll off the tongue quite like Lady Gaga does. The New Yorker was inspired by Queen's 1984 hit "Radio Ga Ga" when she took on the name Lady Gaga!

MIAMI, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 01: Lady Gaga performs onstage during AT&T TV Super Saturday Night at Meridian at Island Gardens on February 01, 2020 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for AT&T) Kevin Mazur/Getty Images
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Drake

It seems to be a trend to stick to your middle name when the first name doesn't feel right. Aubrey Drake Graham dropped his first and last name after finishing up Degrassi: The Next Generation and kicking off his rap career!

INGLEWOOD, CA - NOVEMBER 08: Musician Drake performs onstage during REAL 92.3's 'The Real Show" at The Forum on November 8, 2015 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Scott Dudelson/Getty Images) Scott Dudelson/Getty Images
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Rihanna

If you're pronouncing Rihanna "Ree-Aw-Nah" instead of "Ree-Anne-Uh," you've been doing it all wrong! In the long run, it doesn't matter much because the singer's real name is Robyn Fenty! In an interview with Rolling Stone magazine, Rihanna revealed that "I get kind of numb to hearing Rihanna, Rihanna, Rihanna. When I hear Robyn, I pay attention."

PASADENA, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 22: Rihanna accepts the President’s Award onstage during the 51st NAACP Image Awards, Presented by BET, at Pasadena Civic Auditorium on February 22, 2020 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images for BET) Griffin/Getty Images

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