15 Celebrities Who Changed Their Names for Fame
by Effie Orfanides
For some celebrities, the name that they were given at birth isn’t the one that they use in the business. While you know your favorite entertainers by one name, many didn’t go by that moniker before they were famous. While some made-up names might be obvious (Lady Gaga), others aren’t so well known. Here are 15 celebrities who have changed their names for fame.
It may seem obvious that Lorde’s real name isn’t actually Lorde. The Royals singer changed her name to Lorde because her real name, Ella Marija Lani Yelich-O’Connor, didn’t fit well with her vibe. Obsessed with the royals from a young age, Lorde was originally going to go with Lord but thought it was too masculine. Adding the “e” on the end was the perfect compromise.
The famous rapper wasn’t given the name “Fetty Wap” at birth, which probably doesn’t surprise you. His real name is actually Willie Maxwell. How did he come up with his stage name? According to Capital Xtra, “Fetty” is slang for “money” and “Wap” is a nod to Fetty’s idol, Gucci Mane, who is also known as “Guwop.”
I-G-G-Y. The singer/songwriter changed her name from Amethyst Amelia Kelly to Iggy Azalea before making it big. According to the New York Daily News, Iggy got fairly creative when coming up with her stage name. “I had a dog called Iggy, who I loved very, very much. One time he got bitten by a snake, and he couldn’t move his legs, and I realized he had killed the snake. I got a name-plate necklace made in his honor. Everybody started to think that my name was Iggy so it kind of became my nickname, and I took it on board and started rapping with it,” she explained. She added that her stage surname, Azalea, (named for the street name her mom lives on) came later.
The actress’s real name is actually Laura Jeanne Reese Witherspoon. However, Witherspoon decided to drop the “Laura Jeanne” part and use the “Reese” part, her mom’s surname, as her first name. Kind of cool, right?
Portia de Rossi
Ellen DeGeneres’ wife, Portia, was given the name Amanda Lee Rogers at birth. As a teenager, she decided that she wanted to change her name and chose Portia after the Shakespearean character. She went with “de Rossi” because she wanted something that sounded Italian.
Allan Stewart Konigsberg decided to change his name to Heywood Allen when he was just 17 years old. After a short time, he began calling himself “Woody” for short, and it just stuck.
Carmen Electra ditched her birth name, Tara Leigh Patrick, after signing a recording contract with Prince’s record label. Although she hasn’t had a successful singing career, Carmen Electra is now well-known as an actress and Playboy model.
The two-time Super Bowl halftime performer used to go by the name Peter Gene Hernandez. When he was younger, his dad used to call him “Bruno” because he looked like the wrestler Bruno Sammartino. That became the singer’s first name on-stage.
Lana Del Rey
The singer changed her name from Elizabeth Woolridge Grant to Lizzy Grant when she first started out in the business. However, she then decided to go with Lana Del Rey. According to MTV, the singer wanted something different—something that reminded her of the ocean. “I knew that I wanted a name that sounded sort of exotic and reminded me of the seaside on the Floridian coast. ‘Lana Del Rey’ sounded beautiful,” she said back in 2012.
Many people know that Miley Cyrus changed her name from Destiny Hope Cyrus when she was getting her start in the business. As a child, she was nicknamed “Smiley.” She dropped the “S” and made “Miley” her first name.
The actress’s real name is actually Susan Alexandra Weaver. She decided to change her first name to Sigourney after a character in The Great Gatsby named Sigourney Howard.
Many people don’t know that the famous golfer’s real name actually isn’t Tiger. Eldrick Tont Woods decided to go with the name Tiger after his father’s nickname became his own.
This actor and former model went by the name Christopher for much of his childhood. Ashton is actually his middle name, but he decided to use it as his first name when he was 19 years old.
Kid Rock changed his name from Robert Ritchie when he was younger, but he has regretted his decision as he has gotten older. In a 2011 interview, the entertainer expressed his thoughts on the matter. “[It’s] the worst name in the world. The only person who had a dumber name than me was the Fresh Prince. Hey, it sounded like a cool rap name when I was 16. But it stuck, and now it’s me. I’ll be an 88-year-old man, [saying,] ‘Call me the Kid,'” he said (via Rock 108).
Lady Gaga changed her name from Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta. In 2013, Gaga told People Magazine about her decision to change her name. “I am—Stefani is—a perpetually tortured artist. That’s why I changed my name. I can’t be her in public. She would be a mess,” she said.