25 Celebrities Who Decided to Change Their Name

Maybe they’re born with it…or maybe they were born with a completely different name!

We don’t really get a say in what we’re named at birth, so quite a few celebrities have chosen to take matters into their own hands.

You might be surprised to learn just how many celebs have opted to change their names before they hit it big in Hollywood. Stars like Jennifer Aniston, Meghan Markle, and Natalie Portman all chose to make a switch.

Whether it was due to a complicated last name, to pay homage to a loved one or just because another celeb had already claimed their name, these stars all chose to change things up.

Find out which celebs opted for alternate monikers!

1. Dove Cameron

Dove Cameron was born Chloe Celeste Hoffman but changed her name as a tribute to her late father, who coined the nickname.

“my father always called me dove. he took his own life when i was 15, i didn’t get to say goodbye, so i changed it in honor of him,” Dove wrote on her Twitter.

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2. Miley Cyrus

Miley Cyrus’ real name is Destiny Hope Cyrus but her name change stemmed from the nickname her father gave her as a child — Smiley. That name evolved into Miley and in 2008 she legally changed her name is Miley Rae Cyrus to pay tribute to her dad.

3. Katy Perry

Katy Perry was given the name Katheryn Elizabeth Hudson but decided to go by her shortened first name and her mother’s maiden name, reportedly to not get confused with Kate Hudson.

4. Olivia Wilde

Olivia Wilde’s real last name is Cockburn but when she began acting she decided to use a pen name like many of the authors in her family, reportedly paying tribute to Oscar Wilde.

5. John Legend

John Legend was born John Stephens but uses his stage name thanks to some of the friends he grew up with.

“John Legend is a nickname that some friends started calling me, and it kind of grew into my stage name. ‘Legend’ is something that I never would have chosen for myself originally. It grew to the point where more people in my circle would know me by that name than by my real name. I had to make a decision,” John told MTV News.

6. Mindy Kaling

Mindy Kaling’s birth certificate says Vera Mindy Chokalingam but she decided to go by her middle name and shorten her last name. Her mother reportedly derived the name from the  1970s comedy “Mork & Mindy.”

7. Mila Kunis

Mila Kunis decided to shorten her name a little, originally going by Milena Markovna Kunis.

8. Reese Witherspoon

Reese Witherspoon had quite a few names to choose from with her given name being Laura Jeanne Reese Witherspoon. She settled on Reese, which is reportedly also her mother’s maiden name.

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9. Jennifer Aniston

Jennifer Aniston was born Jennifer Linn Anastassakis but followed in her father’s footsteps and shortened her last name.

10. Meghan Markle

Meghan Markle’s full name is Rachel Meghan Markle but chose to go by her middle name professionally.

11. Nicki Minaj

Nicki Minaj was born Onika Tanya Maraj but told Out she was convinced by a former manager that she needed to change her name.

12. Charlie Sheen

Charlie Sheen was given the name Carlos Irwin Estevez, but opted to adopt his dad Martin Sheen’s stage surname.

13. Nina Dobrev

Nina Dobrev decided to shorten her name, Nikolina Konstantinova Dobreva, once she became an actress.

14. Tom Cruise

Tom Cruise was born Thomas Cruise Mapother IV but reportedly started going by his middle name based on advice from an agent.

15. Bruno Mars

Bruno Mars’ real name is Peter Gene Hernandez but he’s been going by his nickname since he was a toddler.

“My dad nicknamed me Bruno since I was 2 years old. I was going to go by ‘Bruno,’ one name. Mars just kind of came joking around because that sounds bigger than life. That was it, simple as that,” Bruno told Latina.

16. Joaquin Phoenix

Joaquin Phoenix’s family name was originally Bottom but they changed it to Phoenix, reportedly to represent new beginnings. (He also briefly went by a self-given name, Leaf, as a child actor.)

17. Demi Moore

Demi Moore was given the name Demetria Gene Guynes but she decided to go by Demi. When she was 17, she married now ex-husband Freddy Moore and took his name, which stuck with her much longer than their marriage.

18. Natalie Portman

Natalie Portman was born with the last name Hershlag but when she began acting as a teen she reportedly decided to take her grandmother’s maiden name.

19. Alicia Keys

Alivia Keys’ birth certificate says Alicia Augello Cook but she later opted to select a name more reflective of her passion!

20. Jamie Foxx

Jamie Foxx was named Eric Marlon Bishop by his parents but changed his name when he started doing stand up comedy. He reportedly wanted a more gender ambiguous name because female comedians were often called to the stage first and he hoped he could perform sooner.

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21. Nicolas Cage

Nicolas Cage changed his given name, Nicolas Kim Coppola, in order to separate himself from his famous uncle. He was reportedly inspired by the comic-book superhero Luke Cage.

22. Iggy Azalea

Iggy Azalea, born Amethyst Amelia Kelly, reportedly derived her stage name from a dog she once owned and the name of the street she lived on with her mother.

23. Tina Fey

Tina Fey was given the name Elizabeth Stamatina Fey but chose to go by a shortened version of her middle name.

24. Lorde

Lorde’s birth name is Ella Marija Lani Yelich-O’Connor and chose her stage name because of her love of royalty.

“Ever since I was a little kid, I have been really into royals and aristocracy, so to make Lord more feminine, I just put an e on the end! Some people think it’s religious, but it’s not,” she told Interview magazine.

25. Calvin Harris

Calvin Harris was originally named Adam Richard Wiles but created a stage name to create more ambiguity about himself.

“My first single was more of a soul track, and I thought Calvin Harris sounded a bit more racially ambiguous,” he said. “I thought people might not know if I was black or not. After that, I was stuck with it,” he told the Shortlist.


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