The right name is everything in Hollywood, which is why some celebs thought long and hard about how they want to be dubbed (Whoopi Goldberg, we’re looking at you.) As for why a celeb might opt for a different name, the reasons are endless: Someone else already has it, it’s hard to pronounce, they just wanted something different, or—our favorite—they wanted it to be a topic of conversation.
Peek through to find 17 celebs who worked tirelessly to make a name for themselves in the biz—even if that name wasn’t originally theirs. If you know who Katheryn Elizabeth Hudson and Nikolina Konstantinova are by the end of this, we know you’ve done your homework.
Name: Laura Jeanne Witherspoon
When starting out as an actress, the "Big Little Lies" star opted to use her mom's maiden name, Reese, as her first name.
instagram / @reesewitherspoon
Real name: Karen Lucille Hale
Despite being born as a "Karen," the "Pretty Little Liars" star has gone by "Lucy" her whole life. Though she did mention in an interview with Jimmy Fallon that "Karen is [her] alter ego." We'd love to meet this Karen, Lucy.
instagram / @lucyhale
Real name: Caryn Elaine Johnson
The comedian didn't switch names until later in life when she was working at a theater in San Diego. There, her friends kept calling her "Whoopi" due to her, er, frequent flatulence. With the advice of her mother to take a more Jewish-sounding last name, Whoopi Goldberg was born.
instagram / @whoopigoldberg
Real name: Alicia Augello Cook
The R&B singer initially considered the word "Wild" for her stage last name, but the idea was shot down by her mother who said she "sounded like a stripper." That's when she came up with "Keys," which the Grammy winner likes to think of as "piano keys" or keys that "can open so many doors."
instagram / @aliciakeys
Real name: Mark Sinclair Vincent
The actor came up with his stage name while working as a bouncer at a New York nightclub, where it's apparently common to use fake names. (Who knew.) Considering "The Fast and the Furious" star's last name is "Vincent," his stage first name "Vin" seems self-explanatory. "Diesel" came from his nickname, The Diesel, which his friends gave for him for his high energy. Apparently, the name stuck when he started pursuing acting because that's how we know him now.
instagram / @vindiesel
Real name: Margaret Mary Emily Anne Hyra
After dropping out of New York University a semester early of graduating to pursue her dream of becoming an actress, the "When Harry Met Sally" star changed her name to something snappier. Apparently, four first names wasn't catchy enough.
Real name: Elizabeth Stamatina Fey
Whereas the comedian shares her birth name, Elizabeth, with her "30 Rock" character, Liz Lemon, the actress' stage name is a shortened version of her middle name, Stamatina.
Real name: Kelendria Trene Rowland
To keep things catchy, the Destiny's Child member shortened her first name to "Kelly." Plus, it was the title she basically went by when growing up.
Real name: Destiny Hope Cyrus
The singer started going by "Miley" as a little girl after her dad, Billy Ray Cyrus, gave her the title as a nickname due to how often the former Disney Channel star smiled as a kid. At 15, while she was shooting "Hannah Montana," the actress said goodbye to "Destiny Hope" and hello to "Miley Ray" legally.
Real name: Adam Richard Wiles
Right before dropping his first single, which the DJ described as a "soul track," the Scottish musician decided he needed a stage name. He chose "Calvin Harris" to seem "racially ambiguous" when people heard his music. OK, then...