The entertainment industry is a tough place to be. If you’ve got a name that can stick up on people’s tongue easily you certainly have a leg up. Take a look 20 celebrities who changed their names:
1. KATY PERRY
Real name: Katheryn Elizabeth Hudson
Why she changed it: The pop icon started using her mother’s maiden name so she wouldn’t be mistaken for the already established actress Kate Hudson.
2. OLIVIA WILDE
Real name: Olivia Jane Cockburn
Why she changed it: Born as Olivia Cockburn, The House actress changed her last name because she became a big Oscar Wilde fan after starring in one of his plays in high school.
3. ELTON JOHN
Real name: Reginald Kenneth Dwight
Why he changed it: Reginald as a name was too British for Elton. He picked the name “Elton” from Elton Dean, a jazz musician.
4. JOAQUIN PHOENIX
Real name: Joaquin Rafael Bottom
Why he changed it: It was the idea of his parents change their family’s surname to Phoenix in order to represent a new beginning.
5. JOHN LEGEND
Real name: John Roger Stephens
Why he changed it: “John Legend is a nickname that some friends started calling me, and it kind of grew into my stage name. It grew to the point where more people in my circle would know me by that name than by my real name.”
6. AARON PAUL
Real name: Aaron Paul Sturtevant
Why he changed it: Aaron dropped his last name after he noticed casting directors failing to pronounce it.
7. BRUNO MARS
Real name: Peter Gene Hernandez
Why he changed it: Bruno Mars in an interview with GQ, said that he had to change his name because he was being stereotyped in a Latin artist by record labels.
8. JENNIFER ANISTON
Real name: Jennifer Linn Anastassakis
Why she changed it: It was the idea of her father who was an actor himself to change his Greek last name to get more work. Jennifer followed in his footsteps.
9. NINA DOBREV
Real name: Nikolina Konstantinova Dobreva
Why she changed it: Nina’s Bulgarian birth name was quite difficult for many people to speak.
10. MILEY CYRUS
Real name: Destiny Hope Cyrus
Why she changed it: The name “Miley” has its origin from the pop icon’s childhood. Apparently, Miley smiled a lot as a kid so she was nicknamed “Smiley”. The name later evolved to Miley.
11. NICOLAS CAGE
Real name: Nicolas Kim Coppola
Why he changed it: Nic Cage wanted to disassociate himself from his uncle Francis Ford Coppola’s name. His uncle directed Godfather.
13. IGGY AZALEA
Real name: Amethyst Amelia Kelly
Why she changed it: She had a dog named Iggy. Her last name originates from the street she grew up on with her family.
14. ALICIA KEYS
Real name: Alicia Augello Cook
Why she changed it: Alicia explains that her last name “Keys” is a little is associated with piano keys and “It can also open a lot of doors.”
15. LANA DEL REY
Real name: Elizabeth Woolridge Grant
Why she changed it: “I wanted a name I could shape the music towards. Lana Del Rey reminded us of the glamour of the seaside. It sounded gorgeous coming off the tip of the tongue.”
16. JAMIE FOXX
Real name: Eric Marlon Bishop
Why he changed it: Back when he was starting out his career in comedy, Jamie noticed that female comics were called first to perform during open mic nights. So he decided to go with a gender-neutral name.
17. VIN DIESEL
Real name: Mark Sinclair Vincent
Why he changed it: Vin wanted a tougher-sounding name for his occupation so he picked this intimidating name.
18. NATALIE PORTMAN
Real name: Natalie Hershlag
Why she changed it: She decided to use her grandmother’s maiden name in order to have a separate public image when she started acting as a teenager.
19. LIAM NEESON
Real name: William John Neeson
Why he changed it: Liam extracted his name from his first name William. Sort of like a nickname.
20. NICKI MINAJ
Real name: Onika Tanya Maraj
Why she changed it: Nicki even tells in her song “Starships”, “My name is Onika, you can call me Nicki.”