A-List Alter Egos: When Celebrities Renamed Themselves for Success

By Krystal Brown

Choosing the right name is one of the most significant decisions parents make for their child. A name is not only a label for a person, but it can also shape their identity, self-image, and even affect their future opportunities.

However, many celebrities use stage names, but this might leave us confused if we hear their real names revealed. However, there are also some celebrities that will go by a completely different name all of the time. So, which celebrities use a stage name? 

Mila Kunis (Milena Markovna Kunis)

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Due to her family moving from Ukraine to the USA and Mila wanting to book acting gigs, her family allowed for her to shorten her birth name. 

Reese Witherspoon (Laura Jeanne Reese Witherspoon)

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Reese actually uses her double surname for her stage name, and this is her dad’s last name with her mother’s maiden name. 

Kit Harrington (Christopher Catesby Harington)

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Kit is actually a nickname that his family have been using his whole life, except Kit decided to use it at all times through his adulthood, and it wasn’t until he was 11 that he found out Kit wasn’t his real name. 

Julianne Moore (Julie Anne Smith)

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There was already someone in the Screen Actors Guild with her name, and so this is why Julianne decided to combine her mother’s and father’s names. 

Lana Del Rey (Elizabeth Woolridge Grant)

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 There are many different stage names before Lana decided on this one. She actually chose Lana Del Rey in inspiration from the actress Lana Turned and the Ford Del Rey sedan. 

Nicolas Cage (Nicolas Kim Coppola)

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Nicolas Cage’s uncle is Francis Ford Coppola who was a famous motion-picture direction. Nicolas changed his name because he wanted to be different from his favorite uncle. 

Meghan Markle (Rachel Meghan Markle)

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Many people go by the use of their middle name, whether it’s because they prefer it, or because their first name sounds more like a formality. Meghan Markle has been using her middle name as her first since high school.

Elton John (Reginald Kenneth Dwight)

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 Elton took inspiration from two members of the band, Bluesology. He also wanted to let go of difficult experiences from his past. He adopted the stage name to give him a “new lease of life.” 

Nina Dobrev (Nikolina Konstantinova Dobreva)

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Due to it being such a mouthful, Nina shortened her name at the beginning of her acting career. 

Emma Stone (Emily Stone)

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 Before the name Emma, she tried to change her name to Riley, but there was a difficulty in response on set, so she changed her name to something that sounded closer to her birth name. 

P!nk (Alecia Beth Moore)

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Believe it or not, P!nk got her stage name from the inspiration of Steve Buscemi’s character, Mr. Pink in the movie “Reservoir Dogs.” 

Rihanna (Robyn Rihanna Fenty)

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Even though Rihanna goes by her middle name, she is still called Robyn by her closer friends and family members. 

Jamie Foxx (Eric Marlon Bishop)

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As he was kicking off his comedic career, he noticed that female comedians were a rarity, and so, they would always get a slot on stage. In reaction to this, he sat and looked at unisex names for ages until he came up with Jamie Foxx. 

Lizzo (Melissa Viviane Jefferson)

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When Lizzo first came about, she was a member of a rap group and originally, was supposed to go by the name Lissa. However, at the time, Jay-Z’s song “Izzo” was out and popular at the time, so she decided to combine the two. 

Whoopi Goldberg (Caryn Elaine Johnson)

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In classic Whoopi style, she decided to name herself after a whoopee cushion because she is full of gas. Her stage last name comes from the last name of one of her Jewish ancestors. 

Lady Gaga (Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta)

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The name Lady Gaga came about very spontaneously. Rob Furasi, who was a producer, compared her vocals to those of Freddie Mercury, and whenever they’d see each other, he would serenade her with “Radio Ga Ga”. He messaged her one day and his phone auto corrected “radio” to “lady” and that is how the name came about. 

Halsey (Ashely Frangipane)

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Halsey wanted to change her whole identity and life, so, to begin with, she simply changed the letter of her first name. She stated that, “At the time, I felt that Ashley didn’t deserve to be famous and successful because she wasn’t that special, but if I made Halsey, maybe she could be.” 

Gigi Hadid (Jelena Noura Hadid)

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Gigi has been called Gigi since early grade school. It came about when her teacher asked her mom what a good nickname would be for her, and her mom said Gigi. 

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