13 Actors And Singers Who've Expressed Regrets About Using A Stage Name

·9 min read

Plenty of aspiring actors and singers choose a stage name before heading to Hollywood. When they finally make it big, that's the name they'll see in lights instead of the one they were born with.

NBC / Via giphy.com

While many celebrities strongly identify with their stage names, there are also some who wish they'd never chosen a fake name in the first place. Some are successful in changing their names, but others are stuck with a name they hate.

NBC / Via giphy.com

Here are 13 celebrities who regret changing their names for Hollywood:

1.Martin Sheen was born Ramon Estévez, but he was convinced to use a stage name early in his acting career.

close up of martin
Arturo Holmes / Getty Images for GCAPP

He told Closer Weekly, "Sometimes, you get persuaded when you don’t have enough insight or even enough courage to stand up for what you believe in, and you pay for it later...But, of course, I’m only speaking for myself."

close up of martin
Kevin Winter / Getty Images

While his son and fellow actor, Charlie Sheen — whose birth name is Carlos Estévez — adopted a similar stage name, he's grateful that he was able to influence his older son Emilio Estévez to act under his real name.

the family on the hollywood walk of fame
Jim Smeal / Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

2.Thandiwe Newton uses the real spelling of her name professionally now, but for 30 years, she acted under a slightly altered version — Thandie Newton.

close up of Thandiwe
Araya Doheny / WireImage / Via Getty

The stage name began as a spelling error in the credits of her 1991 movie Flirting. Even though her character's name was also Thandiwe, the actor was miscredited as Thandie — and it stuck.

Thandiwe in the movie
Samuel Goldwyn Films / ©Samuel Goldwyn Films/Courtesy Everett Collection

However, in 2021, she reverted to the correct spelling of her name, telling British Vogue, "That’s my name. It’s always been my name. I’m taking back what’s mine."

Thandiwe in a long dress for an event
Alexi J. Rosenfeld / WireImage / Via Getty

3.Anne Hathaway goes by her birth name, but she hates being called Anne and regrets making it her professional name.

anne sitting at a dinner table
Daniele Venturelli / Getty Images for Bulgari

On The Tonight Show, she said, "When I was 14 years old, I did a commercial, and I had to get my SAG card and they asked me, 'What do you want your name to be?' And I was like, 'Well, it should be my name. My name's Anne Hathaway.' So that seemed like the right choice, but it never occurred to me that for the rest of my life, people will call me Anne."

close up of anne smiling
Daniele Venturelli / WireImage / Via Getty

She also revealed that she'd prefer for everyone to call her Annie instead, which is the name everyone in her personal life knows her by.

anne
Laurent Koffel / Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

4.Nicki Minaj was born Onika Maraj — and her stage name wasn't even her choice.

Nicki at the met gala
Gotham / Getty Images

She told the Guardian, "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."

nicki sitting down for a photo shoot
Dimitrios Kambouris / Getty Images for Marc Jacobs

To her, Nicki Minaj is a character she plays. She said, "I feel it's like one big theatre piece. It's a show."

on stage performing
Andreas Rentz / Getty Images for MTV

5.Nicholas Leanos rose to fame under the name Lil Xan before changing his stage name to Diego, which is his legal middle name.

diego at an event with a drink in hand
Rich Fury / Getty Images

The "Lil Xan" name — short for Xanax — was a stark contradiction to the anti-drug stance the rapper took in his lyrics. Most notably, in his breakout hit "Betrayal," he said, "Xans don't make you / Xans gon' take you / Xans gon' fake you / And Xans gon' betray you."

on stage performing
Xavi Torrent / Redferns / Via Getty

His name change followed both his decision to quit the drugs he wrote about in past songs and the loss of fellow rapper, Lil Peep, who died after an overdose.

on stage smiling
David Wolff - Patrick / Redferns / Via Getty

He told Complex, "The whole thing is like a journey. It’s not like, 'Oh, Xan made a song a long time ago embracing Xanax, he’s a fucking liar.' They can see my journey unfold. That many months ago I was going through that and that’s how things were up until 'Betrayed.' Now they can see where it started, what happened, and where I am now."

  Jeff Hahne / Getty Images
Jeff Hahne / Getty Images

6.Jude Law was born David Law, but when he enrolled in a London-based youth theater group as a teenager, he began using one of his two middle names as a stage name.

jude law
Mike Marsland / Mike Marsland / WireImage / Via Getty

However, he regretted adopting the new name when it caused confusion over his gender.

jude law
David M. Benett / Dave Benett / Getty Images for for Steve Lazarides

Assuming that a student named Jude must be a girl, the National Youth Music Theatre assigned him to the girls' dormitories.

jude
Dominik Bindl / WireImage / Via Getty

7.Dante Smith launched his music career under the moniker Mos Def, but, in 2012, he chose a new stage name — Yasiin Bey.

close up of Yasiin
Pascal Le Segretain / Getty Images For Louis Vuitton

He told GQ, "I began to fear that Mos Def was being treated as a product, not a person, so I’ve been going by Yasiin since '99. At first it was just for friends and family, but now I’m declaring it openly."

Yasiin smiliing
Shareif Ziyadat / WireImage / Via Getty

He also told the Guardian, "[I don't want] to deal [any more] with having any moniker or separation between the self that I see and know myself as."

Yasiin posing outside
Stephane Cardinale - Corbis / Corbis via Getty Images

8.Joan Crawford was born Lucille LeSueur, but when she signed with MGM, the studio forced her to change her name.

Joan posing on a chair
Archive Photos / Getty Images

The then-chief of MGM let the fans vote on what the actor's new name should be.

Joan posing in a long dress and fur on a chair
George Hurrell / Getty Images

She reportedly hated the name because she thought "Crawford" sounded too similar to "crawfish."

close up of Joan
Silver Screen Collection / Getty Images

9.When Alyssa Stephens initially launched her rap career, she used a racial slur for a stage name. However, following criticism, she changed it to Latto.

Latto on stage
Marcus Ingram / Getty Images for Unbothered

To her, "Latto" is short for "lottery," and it represents a new chapter. Addressing the name change in her song "The Biggest," she rapped, "It contradicted what I stand for/The backlash ain’t what I planned for...New crib/new whip/new name/I’m still that bitch."

latto on stage
Frazer Harrison / Getty Images

She told Hot Freestyle, "You know you might know your intentions, but these are strangers who don’t know you, never even met you in person...So you gotta hear each other out, and if you know those aren’t your intentions and that’s how it’s being perceived, it’s like why not make a change or alter it?"

close up of latto
Mindy Small / FilmMagic / Via Getty

She also addressed taking accountability for it on Twitter.

10.M*A*S*H actor Harry Morgan was born Harry Bratsberg. Though he was proud of the Norwegian heritage his last name represented, he succumbed to the pressure to change it for his career.

harry
Cbs Photo Archive / Getty Images

He told the Chicago Tribune, "I wish I hadn't changed my name, to tell you the truth...I'm all in favor of remembering one's roots."

harry smiling
Archive Photos / Getty Images

He also said that he wished he'd been able to stand up for himself the way John Hodiak refused to let MGM change his name. He said, "They wanted him to change his name, and he said, no, that's my name. And he was proud of being Ukrainian."

harry in uniform for the show
Cbs Photo Archive / Getty Images

11.Kid Rock's legal name is Robert Ritchie, and he thinks his stage name is "the worst name in the world."

kid rock on stage
Gary Miller / Getty Images

He told Esquire, "The only person that had a dumber name than me was the Fresh Prince."

kid rock on the red carpet
Dia Dipasupil / Getty Images for Chruchill Downs

"It sounded like a cool rap name when I was sixteen. But it stuck, and now it's me. I'll be an 80-year-old man — 'call me the Kid,'" he continued.

close up of kid rock
Brian Sevald / NBAE via Getty Images

12.Before he went by J. Cole, Jermaine Cole rapped under the name Therapist.

j.cole on stage
Josh Brasted / WireImage / Via Getty

When he was a teenager, the local rap group, Bomb Shelter, mentored him and the members' creative names — including Nervous Reck and Filthy Ritch — inspired him to find one of his own. They helped him come up with "Therapist" while looking through a dictionary.

j.cole on stage performing
Astrida Valigorsky / Getty Images

However, it didn't last. He told MTV's When I Was 17, "A few years later, I realized Therapist sounded like a wrestler's name. You know, like an alias. It didn't feel real...J. Cole felt like my real name...It didn't feel like I was trying to be anything."

  Mychal Watts / WireImage / Via Getty
Mychal Watts / WireImage / Via Getty

13.And finally, when 16-year-old Emily Stone's name was already taken at SAG, she registered under the stage name Riley Stone. However, six months later, she went back and changed it to Emma Stone.

emma stone
Milos Bicanski / Getty Images

She told The Tonight Show, "It wasn’t necessarily because of [Baby Spice], but yes, in second grade, did I go up to the teacher and ask her to call me Emma? Yes I did. And was it because of Emma Lee Bunton from the Spice Girls? Yes it was."

emma smiling
Milos Bicanski / Getty Images

However, she misses going by her legal name. She told W Magazine, "I miss Emily. I would love to get her back."

emma at the met gala
Gotham / Getty Images