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Celebrity stage names vs. their real names

  • Nicki Minaj

    Stage Name: Nicki Minaj

    Real Name: Onika Tanya Maraj

    Oddly enough, Onika Maraj doesn’t love being called Nicki Minaj. The name was forced onto her by an early producer and it stuck. Minaj is no stranger to alternate identities: She often played different characters at home to escape domestic drama, and even now develops new personas—she identifies herself as Chun-Li on Twitter.


  • Ice Cube

    Stage Name: Ice Cube

    Real Name: O’Shea Jackson

    As one of the pioneers of gangster rap, O’Shea Jackson took a nickname just like everyone else in N.W.A., his hip-hop group that also launched the careers of Eazy-E and Dr. Dre. The name came from his older brother, who threatened to turn O’Shea into an ice cube for hitting on girls that were coming to the house to visit him.


  • Meg Ryan

    Stage Name: Meg Ryan

    Real Name: Margaret Hyra

    Meg Ryan has been playing the “girl next door” for most of her career, but when she was truly the girl next door, her name was Margaret Hyra. She used her maternal grandmother’s maiden name to change her stage surname to Ryan and shortened Margaret to Meg.


  • Elton John

    Stage Name: Elton John

    Real Name: Reginald Kenneth Dwight

    The singer of “Rocket Man” and “Benny & The Jets” started his life as Reginald Kenneth Dwight. In 1967, he changed his name to Elton John; a combination of the names of the saxophone player and lead singer of his band at the time, Bluesology.


  • Elizabeth Banks

    Stage Name: Elizabeth Banks

    Real Name: Elizabeth Maresal Mitchell

    Elizabeth Banks has become a bankable movie star after stints in “The Hunger Games” and “Pitch Perfect” franchises, but she only became a Banks because the name “Elizabeth Mitchell” was already registered with the Screen Actors Guild. As it turns out, “Lost” star Elizabeth Mitchell beat her name-twin to the punch, forcing the former Liz Mitchell to become Elizabeth Banks.


  • Faith Hill

    Stage Name: Faith Hill

    Real Name: Audrey Faith Perry

    The artist born Audrey Perry adopted her middle name for the stage, appropriate for a country music star who occasionally sings about her own faith. Hill's last name came from her first marriage, and the singer held onto even it after the marriage ended. Now she’s married to Tim McGraw, who was born as Samuel Smith.


  • Stevie Wonder

    Stage Name: Stevie Wonder

    Real Name: Stevland Hardaway Judkins

    When the young R&B prodigy was just starting out at age 11, Motown records impresario Berry Gordy christened him as Little Stevie Wonder. He’s since dropped the “Little,” but Stevie Wonder has never returned to being Stevland Judkins.


  • Charlie Sheen

    Stage Name: Charlie Sheen

    Real Name: Carlos Irwin Estévez

    Charlie Sheen is a second-generation name-changer. His father, Martin Sheen, was born as Ramón Antonio Gerardo Estévez and Charlie followed suit. Interestingly, Sheen’s brother Emilio Estévez kept his birth name and still found success as an actor.


  • Portia de Rossi

    Stage Name: Portia de Rossi

    Real Name: Amanda Lee Rogers

    Actress Portia de Rossi was born in Australia as Amanda Lee Rogers. In an attempt to stand out at auditions, she took the first name of her favorite Shakespeare character and added “de Rossi” because she believed it sounded exotic. Today, she has a new official name: After marrying Ellen Degeneres and taking her wife’s last name, de Rossi is now legally known as Portia Lee James DeGeneres.


  • Ringo Starr

    Stage Name: Ringo Starr

    Real Name: Richard Starkey

    The only member of The Beatles to change his name was Ringo Starr, who changed it while playing in his first professional band, Rory Storm and the Hurricanes. Storm suggested the name based on Ringo’s penchant for wearing rings, but his wife still calls him Ritchie.