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!
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.’
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!
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.
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.
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."
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!
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.
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.
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!
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!
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!
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!
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!
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!
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!
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!
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!
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!
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!
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."
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