Here’s Why These Celebrities Don’t Use Their Real Names


Hollywood changes you. When you’re trying to become successful in Hollywood, you have to make specific changes that will catapult you to the highest level of the stardom stratosphere. Part of this transition may involve making lifestyle changes for an iconic role. Other modifications may include creating a new image to be more marketable, sellable, edgy, or trendy.

Then, there is the name change. Some celebrities feel compelled to go by a different moniker to honor the stars that came before them and paved the way. Some stars find their names too corny, laughable, hard-to-pronounce, or merely lacking star quality. Others change their names for fear of judgment and preconceived notions. The name that someone holds means a lot. Here are ten celebrities who don’t use their real names and why they made this decision.

10 Bruno Mars, Real Name: Peter Gene Hernández

Bruno Mars Performing with Anderson.Paak

Bruno Mars changed his name to prevent being stereotyped and categorized as a Latino artist. In the past 10+ years, Mars has put out a diverse mix of pop, R&B, and rock-inspired music. It’s shocking to think that record labels would have tried to pigeonhole the man with many sounds.

9 Lana Del Rey, Real Name: Elizabeth Woolridge Grant

Lana Del Rey in front of a Microphone

When she first came out, Lana Del Ray’s name was Lizzy Grant, but she changed it because she wanted a stand-out name, reminiscent of the ocean. Back in 2012, she expressed to MTV that her name reminds her of the Floridian coast. Rey mentioned spending a lot of time in Miami with Cuban friends.

8 Miley Cyrus, Real Name: Destiny Hope Cyrus

Miley Cyrus on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon

Many people forget that Miley Cyrus isn’t the Party in the U.S.A’s singer’s real name, or at least it wasn’t before she legally changed it in 2008. Cyrus changed her name because of childhood memories.

As a child, people nicknamed the jovial child “Smiley,” so she merely decided to drop the “s.” It seems as if it was Cyrus’s “destiny” to become the talented star that she is today.

7 Iggy Azalea, Real Name: Amethyst Amelia Kelly

Iggy Azalea wore a name-plate in honor of her dog “Iggy,” who suffered from a snake bite, fortunately recovering three weeks after receiving an antidote. Because of her name-plate, people mistook “Iggy” for her name, and she ran with it. “Azalea” is the name of a street where her family resides.

6 Elton John, Real Name: Reginald Kenneth Dwight

Elton John discussing Rocketman

Elton John’s former bandmate and saxophonist Elton Dean is where he drew inspiration for his first name. As far as his surname, singer Long John Baldry inspired him. In a 1987 interview, Elton John states that with a new name came a “new personality.” Plus, he always genuinely hated the word “Reg.”

5 Nina Dobrev, Real Name: Nikolina Konstantinova Dobreva

Nina Dobrev's Final Return for Vampire Diaries Finale

Dobrev’s real name is quite a mouth-full, which is the precise reason she changed her name. The Degrassi actor figured that shortening her name would make it more memorable. Dobrev’s uniquely long name stems from the Canadian actress’s Bulgarian roots.

4 Jamie Foxx, Real Name: Eric Marlon Bishop

Jamie Foxx Rescues Driver From Burning Vehicle

The story behind the name change is long, but here is a short version. “Jamie” is a gender-neutral name that gave him more of a shot to get stage time.

Yes, Foxx changed his name not to upset the veterans tired of Eric Marlon Bishop stealing their spotlight. Two, Red Foxx inspired this multi-talented superstar.

3 Tupac Shakur, Real Name: Lesane Parish Crooks

Tupac Shakur and the Story Behind his unreleased One Nation Album

Afeni Shakur legally changed her son’s name because she wanted him to have a revolutionary name, given that she was a former Black Panther. Shakur’s name stems from Túpac Amaru, the last leader monarch of Peru’s Incan Empire. The name loosely translates as “shining serpent.” Shakur, in Arabic, means “grateful” or “appreciative.”

2 Eminem, Real Name: Marshall Mathers

Eminem as Slim Shady

Eminem’s name comes from the initials of his name “M &M.” However, early in Eminem’s career, he went as “Slim Shady.” to portray an alter ego who had a rough exterior. While taking the call of nature, Eminem went with “Slim” because of him being thin, and “Shady” had a ring to it, and he loved being able to come up with so many things that could rhyme with “Slim Shady.”

1 Martin Sheen, Real Name: Ramón Antonio Gerardo Estévez

Martin Sheen and Charlie Sheen Together

Sheen decided to change his name because he did not want to be stereotyped or typecast. Charlie Sheen decided to follow suit, while his son Emilio Estevez, famous for his role in The Breakfast Club, decided to use his real surname as his stage name. Both the Sheen and Estevez surnames are iconic.

Next: Nicolas Cage Nearly Played This Iconic ‘Breakfast Club’ Character


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About The Author

Shayla Barfield
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Shayla Barfield is a a full-time Copywriter with a B.A. in Communication, minor in Journalism, and an M.S. in Communication. She’s from Baltimore, MD and attended McDaniel College and Stevenson University. When she’s not writing about elevator installation, landscaping, and dental health, she writes songs and poetry in her spare time. She also immerses herself in new music, or finds herself enthralled in older music stylings.

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