10 Celebrities and the Stories Behind Their Stage Names

Miley Cyrus' birth name isn't actually Miley Cyrus.
by Mylene Mendoza   |  Jan 11, 2021
Image: (LEFT TO RIGHT) INSTAGRAM/GIGIHADID, INSTAGRAM/LILYJAMESOFFICIAL
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Some of the most famous celebrities nowadays actually go by a different name offscreen. In case you didn't know, these celebrities go by stage names, and there are interesting stories behind most of them.

Gigi Hadid

The model explained in an interview with Vogue that "Gigi" is just a nickname her mom used to call her when she was young. Her real name is Jelena Noura Hadid.

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Halsey

When she was just starting out as an artist, Halsey felt like she needed to formulate a new persona different from who she is IRL. Instead, she went by Halsey (made up of the same letters as her real first name Ashley). The singer-songwriter is actually Ashley Nicolette Frangipane in real life.

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Lorde

The New Zealand-born singer's real name is Ella Marija Lani Yelich-O'Connor. Her stage name "Lorde" was actually a very last-minute choice which she decided on at 16 years old. According to the singer, it was inspired by her fascination with nobility and aristocracy.

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Awkwafina

Before becoming an actress, Awkwafina started out in the industry as a rapper. In an interview, she explains that her original rapper name was spelled as Aquafina before being changed into what her stage name is now for copyright reasons. Her real name is Nora Lum.

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Lily James

Known for her roles in Cinderella, Baby Driver, Mamma Mia!, and Rebecca, Lily James' real last name is actually Thomson. Her stage name was inspired by her late father James Thomson, who died of cancer in 2008.

Stan Lee

The creator of the iconic Marvel comic books was born Stanley Lieber. He decided to change his byline to Stan Lee "for journalistic reasons." According to TIME Magazine, Stan said the name change was "because I felt someday I’d be writing the Great American Novel and I didn’t want to use my real name on these silly little comics."

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Travis Scott

The rapper's real name is Jacques Berman Webster II. "Travis" from his stage name was inspired by his favorite uncle, one of the people he looks up to.

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Lana del Rey 

Before becoming Lana del Rey, the singer used to go by Lizzy Grant, inspired by her real name which is Elizabeth Woolridge Grant. On why she settled with her current stage name, Lana said that she wanted a name that sounded "exotic."

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Olivia Wilde

Actress Olivia Wilde's real last name isn't actually Wilde. Her real name is Olivia Jane Cockburn, and her stage name was inspired by the poet and playwright Oscar Wilde. She decided on her screen name together with her mother while she was portraying Gwendolyn in the play The Importance of Being Earnest by the Irish playwright.

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Miley Cyrus

Many of us might know Miley from our childhood. "Hannah Montana" wasn't the only stage name for the actress-singer. Miley, is in fact, inspired by her family's nickname for her, which is "Smiley." Her birth name is Destiny Hope Cyrus, but she legally changed it to Miley Ray Cyrus, a name she was more known for, when she was 15 years old. 

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Mylene Mendoza
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