Nine People Who’ve Changed Their Names For Their Careers
What’s in a name? Why are we are so surprised to find out celebrities have separate stage names to their birth names? Yero Timi-Biu discusses the reasons.
We’re defined by our names. They are our identity. Although our names belong to us, they exist in the mouths of strangers more than we use it to think about who we are. Others can make assumptions about us just by how our names are spelt or pronounced.
This is why many people trying to break into industries such as music, literature and film feel as though they have to change their names to fit into preconceived moulded conventions of society, if they feel like the name they currently have will prevent them from getting to where they want to be.
According to a recent study in Forbes, recruiters spend just six seconds looking over CVs. Imagine if a recruiter spent six seconds trying to figure out how to pronounce Daenerys Targaryen and didn’t even look at her work experience.
80 percent of these six seconds are spent looking at the name, job title and education.
People change their birth names for many reasons; whether it’s to anglicise a foreign sounding name, a chance at a shot of success in a male-dominated marketplace, or even making your name sound like a specific demographic just to get ahead in Hollywood, the below list are only a small selection of people who’ve changed their names for the above reasons:
George Gideon Osborne aka Gideon George Osborne
George Osborne has a lot of titles under his belt. The Conservative party politician is the First Secretary of State, Chancellor of the Exchequer and Second Lord of the Treasury. A 13-year-old Gideon, (or ‘Giddy’ dubbed by his classmates) changed his name via deed poll and his friends have joked that George sounds a lot more Prime Minister than Gideon.
Emeli Sandé aka Adele Emily Sandé
Scottish singer-songwriter, Emeli Sandé wanted to break out into the music industry with her birth name, Adele. Unfortunately, there was a platinum award-winning singer already on the circuit. Not wanting to make things hard for herself, Sandé made a new spelling for her middle name, Emily and Emeli Sandé was born.
LOUIS CK aka Louis Székely
Comedian Louis CK’s stage name is a phonetically spelled version of his birth name, Székely. As a stand-up comic, he thought that the Hungarian spelling confused people and decided to turn his surname into initials.
Bruno Mars aka Peter Gene Hernandez
When 17-year-old musician Peter Gene Hernandez moved to LA, he wasn’t ready for the culture shock. His Hispanic last name meant that he was immediately pigeonholed by the industry as another ‘Latino artist’. The Puerto Rican/Filipino singer ended up using his childhood nickname of ‘Bruno’ and picking a surname as far from any human stereotypes…Mars.
Jason Derulo aka Jason Desrouleaux
Similar to Louis CK, Singer-songwriter Jason Derulo simply has an alternative spelling to his name, Desrouleaux. He’s made it easier for people to pronounce by spelling it phonetically. Rumour has it that he loves saying his name:
Jennifer Aniston aka Jennifer Anastasakis
Born to Greek aspiring actor parents, the Anatassakis’ decided to change their name to Aniston. Soon after their name change, John Aniston got his dream acting role on America’s biggest soap opera ‘Days of our Lives’ and Jennifer Aniston became one of the most highly paid women in Hollywood.
George Michael aka Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou
Extremely successful singer-songwriter and record producer George Michael, or Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou to his parents used an anglicised version of his name for a stage name in the early 1980s. Still to this day he is known as George Michael.
JK Rowling aka Jo Rowling aka Robert Galbraith
Best-selling author and inspiration to possibly everyone in the entire world, Jo ‘JK’ Rowling was forced to use a pseudonym by her publishers who were worried that young boys wouldn’t be able to identify with ‘Harry Potter’ because it was written by a woman. Rowling has since gone on to write adult novels under a male pseudonym, Robert Galbraith.
Whoopi Goldberg aka Caryn Elaine Johnson
Whoopi Goldberg is a comedian, actor, producer and activist. She’s been in huge hits such as ‘Ratrace’, ‘Ghost’ and ‘Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit’. Young Caryn was extremely gassy growing up, and briefly went by a stage name of ‘Whoopi Cushion’. Wanting to further her career in Hollywood, Whoopi changed her last name to Goldberg to make herself sound Jewish. Whoopi has had everyone laughing ever since.
All of the above people have changed their names, whilst still staying true to their identity but still constructing an image for themselves. We cannot be certain that they would’ve been where they are now if they’d kept their birth names, but we can be sure that they’ve made a name for themselves in whatever industry they’re in. Peter Gene Hernandez’s talent may’ve still been enough to have made a hit song with Mark Ronson. He would still be undoubtedly, Bruno Mars.
Do you have a nickname or have you changed your name legally for a particular reason? Let us know — @rifemag
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