Kimberly P. Yow

Kimberly P. Yow

Hi there! I'm Kimberly Yow, a passionate journalist with a deep love for alternative rock. Combining my two passions, I've found my dream job. Join me on this exciting journey as I explore the world of journalism and rock music.

Carmen Electra files to legally change name, other Hollywood stars’ real names revealed

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“Make a name for yourself” is what many Hollywood stars hear when they embark on the often tumultuous journey to stardom. Some take that literally, opting to assume a new identity and go by a stage name for professional purposes. 

Some decide to change their name altogether, like actress and singer Carmen Electra, who recently petitioned to have her name changed in Los Angeles County Superior Court. 

While some celebrities go the legal route, most just assume a new name. We take a look at some extremely popular faces that got creative with their alternate egos.

HOLLYWOOD STARS WHO HAVE MADE HISTORY AND ONLY GO BY ONE NAME

While his sound has always been unique, singer Bruno Mars’s given name is not as original. Born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii, his legal name is Peter Gene Hernandez. In an interview with Rap-Up circa 2010, the musician explained how he developed the unique stage name.

“Bruno is after Bruno Sammartino, who was this big fat wrestler. I guess I was this chunky little baby, so my dad used to call me that as a nickname,” he revealed. “The Mars came up just because I felt like I didn’t have no pizzazz, and a lot of girls say I’m out of this world, so I was like, ‘I guess I’m from Mars.’”

The persona of Electra was born in 1991, all thanks to His Royal Badness, Prince. “I auditioned for an all-girl group that he was putting together and he ended up signing me to his label Paisley Park,” Carmen told “The Yo Show” in 2014, per Yahoo Music. “After I danced for him he said, ‘You look like Electra. That should be your name.'” Electra wasn’t too keen on the moniker, admitting she thought it sounded like that of a superhero. “So I was hesitant but it just sorta grew on me and that’s it. I’m Electra now.”

Her birth name is Tara Leigh Patrick. Electra will return to court on Feb. 24 for a future hearing on the official name change.

Fame aside, it’s not uncommon for a person to go by their middle name. Born Audrey Faith Perry, Faith Hill did just this. While she legally changed her surname to McGraw when she married superstar Tim McGraw in 1996, she professionally kept Hill, the surname of her ex-husband.

Gaining notoriety around the time of her split from Daniel Hill in 1994, Faith chose to keep that last name. When she had her own children with Tim, she paid homage to her birth name, naming her third daughter Audrey.

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When he first got to Los Angeles, Jamie Foxx was doing stand-up comedy. His birth name was Eric Marlon Bishop, but after a successful show using his real name, he was basically ostracized by other comedians.

After going to an alternate stand-up location in Santa Monica, he noticed that hundreds of men would sign up to do comedy but only a few women would put their name down. He started writing down names that were not his own, and gender ambiguous, in hopes of having his name called.

“I wrote unisex names. ‘Tracy Brown.’ ‘Stacy Green.’ ‘Jamie Foxx,'” he told Stephen Colbert in 2018. Upon performing as Jamie Foxx, he received a standing ovation, and the name stuck.

Katy Perry rolls off the tongue nicely, but it’s not the pop star’s given name. Born Katheryn Elizabeth Hudson, Perry reportedly adopted a stage name after her Christian rock album, released in 2001, didn’t perform well. 

Born to strict, religious parents, Perry says identifying as a different persona is a form of protection. “A lot of people are living in fear from something that happened in their childhood, or some form of PTSD they picked up along the way, and I created this wonderful character called Katy Perry that I very much am, and can step into all the time, but I created that character out of protection,” she told The Guardian in 2017. 

“I was scared that if you saw me, Katheryn Hudson, the girl wearing the Bioré strip on my nose, you’d be like, ‘That’s not glamorous.’ It was me going, ‘OK, I’ve been upset my whole childhood so I’m going to show the world I am something, that I am going to do something and that I am enough.’ I didn’t want to be Katheryn Hudson. I hated that, it was too scary for me, so I decided to be someone else.”

“Perry” was her mother’s maiden name before marrying Katy’s father, Keith Hudson. The “Firework” singer also allegedly did not want to have too similar of a name to actress Kate Hudson, who already had an established career in Hollywood when Perry was breaking onto the scene.

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Billy Ray Cyrus has several children in the entertainment industry, but none more famous than his daughter Miley. Born Destiny Ray Cyrus, Miley is reportedly an abbreviation of a nickname she was given at a young age. Called “Smiley” as a baby, the name naturally morphed to Miley.

In 2008, the “Hannah Montana” star filed to legally change her name to Miley Ray Cyrus. Her middle name pays homage to her grandfather, politician Ronald Ray Cyrus.

Actress Natalie Portman was born in Israel and moved to the United States at 3 years old. Her stage name is not a huge leap from her birth name, Neta-Lee Hershlag, with the “May December” actress adopting the Americanized version of Neta-Lee.

Portman, who is known to be extremely private, reportedly used her paternal grandmother’s maiden name, “Portman,” as her surname, in an effort to protect herself. The change came after she got her first movie role, “Léon: The Professional,” in 1994. Portman had previously used her birth name while performing in the musical “Ruthless!”

Actress Rita Wilson’s original surname was changed when she was just a little girl. Born Margarita Ibrahimoff, to a Greek mother and Bulgarian father in Los Angeles, the actress and singer delved into her ancestry during a recent appearance on the series “Who Do You Think You Are?” 

Wilson shared that her father left Bulgaria as Hassan Halilov Ibrahimoff, only to come to America and change his name. In 1960, four years after his daughter was born, he changed his name to Allan and the family last name to Wilson.

“I just think that sounds like the most American name,” Wilson said on the show.

Rita is a derivation of Margarita.

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