Jamie Foxx (Eric Marlon Bishop)
The Oscar-winning comic-turned-actor Jamie Foxx told David Letterman in 2014 that he adopted his foxy stage name to get a leg up doing stand-up comedy early on in his career. Because women were usually called up first during open mics, he said, he chose a more gender-neutral handle so he would get called up earlier.
Miley Cyrus (Destiny Hope Cyrus)
According to Business Insider, Billy Ray Cyrus gave his daughter the nickname “Smiley” to “match her cheery persona.” Eventually, Smiley evolved into Miley, which is now the singer’s legal name.
John Legend (John Roger Stephens)
The name “Legend” was gifted to the R&B singer by a friend who was impressed by his old-school sound. As Legend explained in a 2005 interview with Independent, “I knew it sounded a little presumptuous, but I figured it would grab people’s attention.”
Blake Lively (Blake Ellender Brown)
The actress decided to take her mother’s maiden name when she became an actress
Marilyn Manson (Brian Hugh Warner)
The musician’s moniker pairs the names of two opposing pop culture figures: Marilyn Monroe and Charles Manson. Manson has mentioned in several interviews that his name is a trademark, not a stage name.
Natalie Portman (Natalie Hershlag)
The award-winning actress and Harvard alumna was born Neta-Lee Hershlag. Portman was the maiden name of her paternal grandmother.
Michael Caine (Maurice Joseph Micklewhite)
Upon advice from an agent, the actor changed his name to Michael Caine to mirror Humphrey Bogart’s character in “The Caine Mutiny.” In a 2009 interview with New York Magazine, Caine explained that Bogart was his childhood hero.
Katy Perry (Katheryn Elizabeth Hudson)
The pop star, born Katheryn Elizabeth Hudson, decided to change her surname when she entered the business to avoid confusion with the actress Kate Hudson.
Lana Del Rey (Elizabeth Woolridge Grant)
On choosing her stage name, the singer 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.”
Michael Keaton (Michael Douglas)
When he entered the industry, the “Birdman” star honored SAG rules by changing his surname to avoid any confusion with the actor (and future Oscar winner) Michael Douglas and the TV host Mike Douglas.
Olivia Wilde (Olivia Jane Cockburn)
When the actress-director changed her name in high school, choosing to honor one of her favorite authors, Oscar Wilde.
Calvin Harris (Adam Richard Wiles)
The Scottish DJ chose the name Calvin Harris to appear more racially ambiguous. He said, “I thought people might not know if I was black or not. After that, I was stuck with it.”
Portia de Rossi (Amanda Lee Rogers)
According to Advocate.com, the actress adopted the name Portia from a Shakespearean character. She chose de Rossi, “because I was Australian and I thought that an exotic Italian name would somehow suit me more than Amanda Rogers.”
Tom Cruise (Thomas Cruise Mapother IV)
The megastar dropped his given surname and started using his middle name at the suggestion of an early agent.
Halsey (Ashley Frangipane)
Halsey’s stage name is an anagram of her real name, Ashley. The “New Americana” electro-pop singer’s name is also a reference to a street in Brooklyn where she “spent a lot of time as a teenager.”