You've definitely heard of Iggy Azalea, but do you know who Amethyst Amelia Kelly is? Or maybe Elizabeth Woolridge Grant? Probably not! However, you do know them by their stage names!It might seem easy, but becoming a celebrity is very difficult (otherwise, all of us would be one). So many today's actors and singers had to work really hard to achieve their goals (i.e. to become a star), and sometimes they had to make some sacrifices (figuratively speaking, of course) to get there. For example, they needed to change their real names to make them seem more authentic and accessible, because their real names were too ordinary, lacking that special something, or even too complicated for the movie or the music industry. Some of them completely changed their identities, while the others only modified it.
So, here are 15 celebrities whose real names will probably surprise you.
15 Iggy Azalea
Who dat, who dat? I-G-G-Y! Amethyst Amelia Kelly, better known by her stage name Iggy Azalea, is an Australian rapper who rose to fame as Billboard's 2014 top new artist (based on chart performances). When it comes to her stage name, she explains that its creation is a two-part saga. According to her, the "Iggy" part was inspired by her dog (whose name was Iggy). "I had a dog called Iggy, who I loved very, very much," she explained. Regarding the second part of her name, she said that "Azalea" was a street name that her family lived on, plus she thought it sounded very feminine and that it would balance out "Iggy" being so masculine.I have to say, I really dig her name, it's simple and has a backstory. Also, it would be very difficult to spell out her real name instead of "Iggy" at the beginning of her hit song "Fancy", don't you think?
14 Larry King
Larry King is a media legend, an iconic interviewer, television and radio host. Probably everybody who has a TV or access to the internet has heard of him and his talk show Larry King Live (it's OK, I won't judge even if you don't know who he is). But an interesting fact about him is that his real name isn't actually Larry King (I've been living a lie this whole time). He was born as Lawrence Harvey Zeiger, but he decided to change his name because his original surname sounded "too Jewish". But hey, you have to admit that his stage name suits him well, because he definitely is the king of the television.
13 Julianne Moore
If you've seen movies such as Hunger Games, Still Alice and Maps to the Stars, then you know how extraordinary Julianne Moore as an actress really is. I mean no wonder she has won so many awards for her work (an Academy Award, a BAFTA Award, two Golden Globes, two SAG Awards, a Primetime Emmy, and a Daytime Emmy are just some of them). But little known fact about her is that Julianne Moore isn't her actual name. "When I went to join SAG as Julie Smith, they were like, 'There's a Julie Smith, there's a Julie Anne Smith. You have to choose another name,' " she explains. "My dad's name was Peter Moore Smith, and my mother's name was Anne Smith, and I used both their names so I wouldn't hurt anybody's feelings."Aw, how sweet of her to pay tribute to her parents like that!
12 Tina Fey
Tina Fey, born May 18, 1970, is an American actress, comedian, writer and producer best known for her roles on the iconic 30 Rock, Saturday Night Live and Mean Girls. If you've seen any of those (especially Saturday Night Live), then you know how hilarious this woman really is. No wonder she's often referred to as the queen of comedy. What many people don't know is that her real name is Elizabeth Stamatina Fey. Tina is a a short version of her middle name "Stamatina" so I guess you could say that she's still using her real name (in some form).Did you know that her 30 Rock character's name, Liz Lemon, is a nod to her real name - Elizabeth? And if you're curious about why she decided to change her name, well, there's no big story about that — it was purely for aesthetic reasons.
11 Michael Caine
Michael Caine is a British film icon who has appeared in over 115 movies so far. Caine was nominated for an Oscar award in every decade from the 1960s to 2000s, and was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II for his contribution to the movie industry. His original stage name was "Michael Scott", which he adopted in 1953. A year later, when he moved to London to peruse his acting career, he had to change it to "Michael Cain", because there was already an actor in London with the name "Michael Scott".In July 2016, Caine decided to legally replace his real name with his stage name. In an interview for The Sun he explained what made him do that: “I changed my name when all the stuff started with ISIS and all that. A security guard would say, ‘Hi Michael Caine,’ and suddenly I’d be giving him a passport with a different name on it. I could stand there for an hour. So I changed my name.”
10 Jamie Foxx
Jamie Foxx, born Eric Marlon Bishop, on December 13, 1967, is an American actor, singer, and comedian. Foxx started his career as a stand-up comedian at comedy clubs' open mic nights in 1989. And as we can see, he's come a long way — he has won an Academy Award, a BAFTA Award, a Golden Globe Award, and a few Grammys.Regarding his interesting choice of a stage name, Jamie said that he took this androgynous, gender-neutral name because he figured out that women got preference for performing on open stage nights, and having a name like this would confuse the people managing the open mic nights, thinking he was a woman and would call him up.Well, it worked, obviously!
9 Portia De Rossi
Portia de Rossi, born on January 31, 1973, is an Australian-American actress and model, who is probably best known for her roles in TV shows like Arrested Development and Scandal. If you're not into those shows, then you might know her as the wife of Ellen DeGeneres. A little-known fact is that Portia's real name is Amanda Lee Rogers (I knew her stage name was too good to be true). "When I was 15, I changed my name legally. I think it was largely due to my struggle about being gay. Everything just didn't fit, and I was trying to find things I could identify myself with, and it started with my name," explained Portia.
As you can see, Portia didn't decide to change her name for fame, but I'm pretty sure it helped her a lot. I wonder if Ellen would still have fallen in love with her if she hadn't changed her real name? Of course she would — love is love.
8 Katy Perry
This pop sensation is mostly known her for her numerous catchy pop hits such as "I Kissed A Girl", "Firework", "Dark Horse" and "Roar". That's right, I'm talking about Katy Perry. Katy was born on October 25, 1984 as Katheryn Elizabeth Hudson. Before turning to pop music, Katy released a gospel record under her real name, and it did not sell well. "It reached literally maybe 100 people, and then the label went bankrupt," Perry said. After that, she shortly performed as Katheryn Perry because "Katy Hudson" was too similar to the name of Kate Hudson (you know, that actress that almost always plays Matthew McConaughey's bae). She later started going under "Katy Perry", using her mother's maiden name, and if you ask me, it fits her perfectly.
7 Ricky Martin
You all know that Ricky Martin song that goes like this: "Upside, inside out she's livin' la vida loca", right? Of course you do, that number-one hit song was being played literally everywhere. But did you know that his real name isn't Ricky? He was born as Enrique Martín Morales, but decided to change his name. Now, the reason for his name change is quite funny. Apparently, as a boy, he was called ‘Quique’ or ‘Kiki’, which are nicknames for his real name, but apparently in some Asian countries that means "vagina". “Imagine if they called you… Vagina Martin,” he said in an interview for Don Francisco Presenta. “No, it can’t be, so they changed my name to Ricky."
It's OK Kiki, I mean Ricky, we would still love you either way.
6 Whoopi Goldberg
Whoopi Goldberg, born as Caryn Elaine Johnson, is an actress who came to prominence with her role in a 1985 movie The Color Purple. She has won so many awards for her work (Oscars, Emmys,People's Choice Awards, you name it), and she is actually one of the few entertainers who became an EGOT winner (which means she has an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar, and a Tony Award). The story behind her name change is quite interesting."Here’s the thing. When you’re performing on stage, you never really have time to go into the bathroom and close the door. So if you get a little gassy, you’ve got to let it go. So people used to say to me, ‘You are like a whoopee cushion.’ And that’s where the name came from”, she explained in an interview for New York Times. Regarding the "Goldberg" part of her name, she said she chose it only to be taken more seriously.
5 Lana Del Rey
Before she became this amazing songstress that she is today, Lana Del Rey was just Lizzie Grant, a New York girl who was desperately trying to land a deal with a record label, and start doing that one thing she was meant for - singing. Luckily, after performing on the NYC underground scene for some time, she was discovered by a label and signed her first record deal. Talking about her stage name, she said: "I wanted a name I could shape the music towards. I was going to Miami quite a lot at the time, speaking a lot of Spanish with my friends from Cuba. Lana Del Rey reminded us of the glamour of the seaside. It sounded gorgeous coming off the tip of the tongue.”
I have to agree, her name definitely is glamours, just like her songs.
4 Elton John
Come on, everybody knows who Elton John is, right? But OK, here's a short summary just in case you live under a rock. Elton John is an English pianist, singer-songwriter and composer, who has more than fifty Top 40 hits, and is one best-selling music artists in the world. Simply put, Elton John is a superstar, and he has an Oscar, a Golden Globe, five Grammys, five Brit awards, and a Tony to prove it! Of course, this legendary musician wouldn't end up on this list if he hadn't changed his real name. Do you wanna go try and guess what it was? Just think of some English names. Charles? No. William? Nope. Harry? Nah. OK, I'll tell you — it's Reginald Kenneth Dwight. He decided to change it back in 1967, and his stage name was inspired by Blues legends Elton Dean and Long John Baldry. Well, I understand his decision to change it, because honestly, "Reginald Kenneth Dwight" isn’t really the coolest name, but "Elton John" sure is.
3 Nicki Minaj
The name "Onika Tanya Maraj" probably doesn't ring a bell with you, am I right? But what about Nicki Minaj? Yeah, you' know who she is and you've probably stumbled across her chart-topping singles like "Superbass", "Starships" and the infamous "Anaconda" on the radio. Anyways, her real name is pretty unique, right? Well, that's because Onika, I mean Nicki, was born in Trinidad and Tobago; she moved to the U.S. when she was five years old. Talking about her career and her name change, she explained that Nicki Minaj definitely wasn't her first choice: "Somebody changed my name. One of the first production deals I signed, the guy wanted my name to be Minaj and I fought him tooth and nail. But he convinced me. I've always hated it."Don't hate it Nicki, it's amazing, and already iconic!
Ella Marija Lani Yelich-O'Connor is a New Zealand singer-songwriter who is most known for "Royals", her hit single that made her an international phenomenon. Oh wait, I forgot to tell you — you might know her by her stage name, Lorde. Talking about her stage name in one interview, this talented musician said: "My name is Ella, that's who I am at school, hanging out with friends, while I'm doing homework. But when I'm up on stage, Lorde is a character." But how did she thought of the name, you wonder? Don't worry, she expained that as well: "When I was trying to come up with a stage name, I thought ‘Lord' was super rad, but really masculine—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."
There you go - mystery solved!
1 Lady Gaga
Lady Gaga was born on March 28, 1986 as Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta. This pop superstar (often referred to as the new queen of pop) has said in numerous interviews that one of her greatest musical influences is Queen, the British band, so it is no surprise that she named herself after one their songs - "Radio Ga Ga". Of course, some people theorize that the "Gaga" part of the name was inspired by her crazy outfits (get it, crazy, gaga - synonyms?), and the others are taking it even further and somehow connecting the name to the Illuminati. Crazy, I know! Either way, Lady Gaga is considered to be one of the best singers these days. She has sold over 125 million singles worldwide and has won six Grammys so far, and was also nominated for an Academy and an Emmy award. Her unique stage name (together with her amazing talent, obviously) is definitely her biggest trademark, and if it wasn't that iconic, who knows if she would have been able to conquer the world with her amazing tunes.