Actors, singers, and comedians such as Ashton Kutcher, Halsey, and Frank Ocean seemed to have everything going for them right as their parents signed their birth certificates. But these household names, as it turns out, were born under different monikers, adopting different stage names later down the line to help their careers. Have you ever heard of Robyn Fenty or Belcalis Marlenis Almánzar? Well, they’re two pretty famous musical artists; but you’ll have to keep reading to find out who they are.
Natalie Portman Has A Traditional Hebrew Name
If you didn’t know, actress Natalie Portman was born in Jerusalem, Israel, in 1981. It wasn’t until 1984 that her family emigrated to the United States. And, with her family’s move, came a new name for Neta-Lee Hershlag. The family decided to change their surname to Portman, the maiden name of the actress’s maternal grandmother.
And Neta-lee became “Americanized,” turning into Natalie. Honestly, we kind of wish the Academy Award-winning actress kept her birth name. It’s very unique and beautiful.
Kit Harington Didn’t Know His Real Name Until He Was 11
For Game of Thrones actor Kit Harington, he was just as in the dark about his real name as we were! Harington has said that he didn’t know his birth name was Christopher until he was about 11 years old. Can you imagine not knowing your real name until you’re almost a teenager?
During an interview with Harpers Bazaar, Harington said, “I think [my parents] could see that I wanted to be Kit, but Christopher was a bit of a tradition. My brother’s name is Jack, but his real name is John. Kit is traditionally an offshoot of Christopher; it’s just not used that often.”
Emma Stone Re-Branded Her Name At The Age Of 16
Emma Stone is known for her quirky personality and marvelous acting abilities. But what a lot of people don’t know is that her birth name is actually Emily Stone. The actress had to re-brand herself at the young age of 16 because there was already an Emily Stone in Hollywood, and she wanted to stand out.
During an interview with Harper Bazaar, Stone said, “I changed it to Emma because you know it’s closer to Emily, but most people call me ‘M,’ that know me well.” At 16, it makes sense that she wouldn’t want to lose too much of her teenage identity!
The Weeknd Ditched His Real Name As A Teenager
Contrary to popular belief, The Weeknd’s first name is not “The,” and his last name is not “Weeknd.” The singer was actually born with the long name of Abel Makkonen Tesfaye. During a “Reddit Ask Me Anything” thread, he revealed the origins of his stage name.
He and a few friends ran away from home one weekend, grabbing their mattresses, sticking them in their friend’s beat-up van, and never looking back. He went on to explain that, at the time, he disliked his name and decided “The Weeknd” would be cool. But there was already a Canadian band called The Weekend, so he had to take out the “e.”
Reese Witherspoon Has A Very Long Southern Name
Actress Reese Witherspoon is known for having a beautifully unique name, so it may come to a shock to learn that her birth name is pretty long. Her parents definitely wanted people to know their daughter is southern because Witherspoon’s birth name is Laura Jeanne Reese Witherspoon.
Although it is unknown why Witherspoon chose Reese as her screen name, we do know that she changed it fairly early on in her career. Regardless, her choice makes a bit of sense since it is her mother’s maiden name.
Jelena Hadid Goes By Her Childhood Nickname, Gigi
For supermodel Gigi Hadid, a childhood nickname that her family called her at home became her professional name later in life, but not for the reason you’d expect. Born Jelena Noura Hadid, the name Gigi became “permanent” when the model was only in grade school.
In an interview with Harpers Bazaar, Gigi said, “In first or second grade, there was a girl named Helena, and it got confusing with the teacher who had to call out our names, and so the teacher asked my mom, ‘If I needed to call Jelena a nickname, what would it be?’ And my mom was like, ‘I call her Gigi sometimes,’ and the name stuck.”
Ashton Kutcher Joked About His Real Name At An Award Show
Ashton Kutcher is one of those actors who has a unique name in Hollywood– he stands out. So it came as a shock to some to learn that his first name is technically his middle name. The actor’s birth name is really Christopher Ashton Kutcher.
During the 2013 Teen Choice awards, when Kutcher one the Ultimate Choice Award, he joked that he felt like a fraud since the award is dubbed the “old guy award.” He even said, “My name is not even actually, Ashton!” He decided to change his name at 19 when he was first breaking into Hollywood.
Halsey’s Stage Name Is After A Street
For a long time, Halsey’s fan base was sure her name was an anagram for her birth name, Ashley Frangipane. But the singer set the record straight, saying that a street name inspired her stage name. Since she didn’t like being Ashley, thinking the person was sad and weak, Halsey decided to re-brand herself.
The singer opted to use the stage name Halsey after a street name she used to live on in Brooklyn before making it big. It’s just ironic that the name happens to be an anagram for her birth name!
Alicia Keys’ Real Last Name Is A Two-Parter
Singer, songwriter, and musician Alicia Keys was born Alicia Augello-Cook. And while her stage name suits her performer persona, it took the singer a few tries to come up with the surname Keys. Of course, mother knows best, and so does Keys.
Initially, while she was looking for a stage name, Keys took out a dictionary and landed on “Wild.” Her mother said, “Alicia Wild” sounded like she was a stripper. We’re not confirming nor denying that we agree with Keys’ mom, but we’re happy she went with the more musically inclined name of Keys.
Portia de Rossi Opted For A More Exotic Name
Portia de Rossi legally changed her name at the young age of 15. The native Australian’s birth name is Amanda Rogers. During an interview with Advocate, de Rossi explained her reasoning, saying, “In retrospect, I think it was largely due to my struggle about being gay.”
“I picked Portia because I was a Shakespeare fan [Portia is the character in The Merchant of Venice]. de Rossi because I was Australian, and I thought that an exotic Italian name would somehow suit me more than Amanda Rogers. When you live in Australia, Europe is so far away and so fascinating, so stylish and cultured and sophisticated.”
Nicki Minaj Never Wanted To Be Called Nicki Minaj
When she signed her first production deal, Onika Tanya Maraj fought tooth and nail over being renamed, Nicki Minaj. The man with a plan told Minaj to trust him, and so her name was ultimately changed for the stage.
During an interview with The Guardian, Minaj said, “Somebody changed my name, 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. I’ve always hated it.” Her rule of thumb is if someone knew her four years before she became “Nicki Minaj,” they’re not allowed to call her Nicki.
Rihanna Is Actually The Singer’s Middle Name
Like many performers, Rihanna took part of her birth name for her stage name. The singer was actually born with the beautiful name Robyn Rihanna Fenty. While her fans call her by her stage name, the singer’s close friends and family still call her Robyn.
The singer admitted in an interview with Harpers Bazaar that she had become “numb” to the name Rihanna, not really reacting to it when people chant the name. But she’ll react when she hears the name, Robyn.
Cardi B Is A Childhood Nickname
Although most people know the entertainer Cardi B by her stage name, die-hard fans know her birth name is actually a lot longer and more complex. Legally, the musician’s name is Belcalis Marlenis Almánzar. If you can believe it, Cardi B is actually short for a childhood nickname.
While on Jimmy Fallon, Cardi explained that her sister’s name is Hennessy, so growing up, people would call her Bacardi, like the rum. Eventually, the singer shortened the name to Cardi B.
Miley Cyrus’ Name Had A Few Evolutions
Singer, songwriter, and actress Miley Cyrus was actually born with a completely different name. The star’s birth name is Destiny Hope Cyrus, but it quickly acquired the nickname “Smiley” because of how happy she was as a baby and toddler.
From there, Smiley evolved into Miley, her stage name later in life. But Miley is never one to conform to what other celebrities do. So, instead of keeping her birth name and stage name separate, the singer legally changed her name to Miley Cyrus back in 2008.
Spike Lee’s Mom Gave Him His Professional Name
Even though it very much fits his director persona, Spike Lee was born with a different name. Born Shelton Jackson Lee, the director’s mom actually nicknamed him Spike when he was a kid because he was a “tough baby.” The name stuck, and now he is known all through Hollywood as Spike.
Since 1983, Lee has produced more than 35 films with his production company 40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks. If you’re interested in Lee’s work, think about watching his Academy Award-winning true-crime drama BlacKkKlansman; it’s spectacular.
Jamie Foxx Changed His Name For More Stage Time
Comedian and actor Jamie Foxx changed his name at the beginning of his career as a stand-up comedian. Born Eric Marlon Bishop, Foxx realized females always landed a spot on each night’s docket, since way more males would show up to perform. So, he thought he’d try out a uni-sex name.
During an interview with David Letterman, Foxx explained, “I noticed that like 1,000 guys showed up and only three girls, but the three girls would always get a spot. So I went to the list and wrote down a unisex name… Jamie Foxx.”
Courtney Love Went Back To Her Birth Name In 2010
As the frontwoman of the 90s band Hole, Courtney Love was one of the more famous female grunge rockers to grace the stage. Ironically, most everyone knew the singer’s stage name, but no one was aware of her birth name, Courtney Michelle Harrison. And while most people still remember her as Courtney Love, she has since returned to her birth name.
During an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Love said, “Courtney Love is dead. We’ve all decided we don’t like her anymore. We love her when she goes on stage, but I don’t need her in the rest of my life. The name Courtney Love is a way to oppress me.”
Whoopi Goldberg’s Stage Name Came From One Of Her Bodily Traits
Comedian and actress Whoopi Goldberg didn’t come up with her stage name herself, but rather from people in her small theater group. Born Caryn Goldberg, the television personality explained that she “earned” her stage name by acting like a whoopee cushion.
During an interview on The Graham Norton Show, Goldberg said, ” I am Karen, but I was a bit of a farter,” she joked. “The theatres I was performing in were very small, so if you were gassy, you had to walk away farting, and people would say I was like a Whoopee cushion. I was sometimes quite noisy, never offensive.”
Bruno Mar’s Didn’t Want His Music Type-Cast
Unless you’re a die-hard Bruno Mars fan, most people don’t know the singer’s birth name. His given name is actually Peter Gene Hernandez, but Bruno was a childhood nickname that kind of just stuck with him into adulthood. While the first half of his stage name was set, Bruno still wanted to change his surname for a very specific reason.
During a 2013 interview with GQ, the singer said, “Your last name’s Hernandez, maybe you should do this Latin music, this Spanish music… Enrique’s so hot right now.” He explained how producers want him to make Latin music solely because of his last name, so he switched it to Mars.
Frank Ocean Wanted His Stage Name To Be Cool
To him, musician Frank Ocean was born with an un-cool name. Born with the name Christopher Edwin Breaux, Ocean decided to change his name in 2010, wanting to feel cooler with not only his stage presence but also his life in general.
During an interview with Complex, Ocean said, “I changed my name on my birthday last year. It was the most empowering [thing] I did in 2010, for sure. I went on LegalZoom and changed my name. It just felt cool. If you don’t like your name, then change your name.” Honestly, words to live by if you don’t feel like your name suits you.