Jamie Foxx attends the world premiere of Netflix's "Day Shift" at Regal LA Live on August 10, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. Olivia Wilde attends the Michael Kors Collection Spring/Summer 2024 Runway Show at Domino Park on September 11, 2023 in Brooklyn, New York. Michael Keaton from Hulu’s ‘Dopesick’ attends Deadline Contenders Television at Paramount Studios on April 09, 2022 in Los Angeles, California.

In the entertainment industry, every aspect needs to be marketable. Some celebrities have really catchy names, while others have had to get their creative juices flowing to come up with a unique name to be known for the rest of their lives. Meanwhile, there are some cases where there are other successful people in media who have the same name, and someone’s got to change their name to follow SAG-AFTRA (Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists) rules. This guild that represents actors stipulates that no two members can have identical working names. An actor whose name has already been taken must choose a new name. SAG-AFTRA allows any new member to keep their legal name as their stage name, even if another member has the same stage name already, as long as they sign a waiver.

Why Use a Stage Name?

Furthermore, a middle name may be adopted in preference to changing a name to avoid confusion. In some cases, attaching a generational suffix is sufficient for guild rules. A person hoping to become successful as an entertainer who has a name identical to a name already familiar to the public (in any field of endeavor) may change their name to avoid having their name evoke the other person with the same name. When it comes to musicians spanning all genres, artists have come up with some pretty unique stage names. Some artists, like Sean Combs, use several aliases (P. Diddy, Puff Daddy, Diddy, Puffy). Other reasons a performer will take a stage name is because their real name is considered unattractive, dull, hard to pronounce or spell, or even to retain anonymity. The Weeknd, whose real name is Abel Tesfaye, started releasing his music anonymously on YouTube in 2009.

See which celebrities don’t go by their real name in the entertainment industry.

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