Hollywood has a long history of pressuring (and occasionally outright forcing) performers to adopt a stage name because their original name isn't considered appealing or easily pronounceable enough. However, in more recent years, actors and singers have been fighting back against this expectation.
Here are 14 celebs who refused to change their names for Hollywood:
1.Maitreyi Ramakrishnan used to anglicize her name so other people could pronounce it more easily, but when she booked the lead in Never Have I Ever, she had an epiphany: "You have a fresh start, no one here knows your name, go for it."
She told Refinery29 Australia, "I’m really proud of my 20-letter name. It’s pretty awesome...I don't ever plan on changing it, and I just want people to respect that and try their hardest to say it right."
2.At the very beginning of Harrison Ford's career, he signed a contract with a studio that wanted to change his name because they thought Harrison Ford was a "pretentious name for a young man." He suggested the name Kurt Affair, basically knowing they'd reject it.
On Live with Kelly and Ryan, he said, "I didn't agree with that. I thought it was a pretentious name for an old man."
3.When Zoe Saldaña did her first movie, Center Stage, her then-manager encouraged her to change her name because "it's what everybody does."
The manager was speaking from personal experience because she'd changed her own name as a teenage singer and ballroom dancer in the '60s.
Zoe told Entertainment Weekly, "That was her doing the best that she wanted for me, but I still knew that I liked my name."
4.At the beginning of his career, Emilio Estevez's agent advised him to change his name to Sheen, the same stage name used by his dad, Martin, and brother, Charlie. However, he followed Martin's advice and refused.
Martin told Closer Weekly, "The only influence I had on Emilio was to keep his name. ... I thank God he didn’t [change it]."
5.Though several other members of BTS use stage names, Jimin opted to use his real name instead of the one Big Hit Entertainment offered him — Baby G.
6.Similarly, Jungkook was offered the stage name Seagull. However, coming from a coastal city, he wasn't very fond of the idea.
He told Mnet’s Yaman TV, "I'm from Busan, and seagull [in Korean] is seagull in English."
7.At the beginning of Barbra Streisand's career, people she worked with wanted her to be called "Barbara Sands." She rejected the idea, but she did drop one "a" from her first name to make it more unique.
On The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, she said, "I thought, 'What? No. Streisand is my name. I don’t want to change it.'"
8.When Michael Peña saw other actors booking commercials after changing their names, he "thought it was a slap in the face." Having dealt with racism as a kid, he "felt like changing [his] name would be kind of like conforming."
He told GQ, "I know that my parents, they crossed the border to offer us a great life. And I didn't want to turn my back on my dad working two full-time jobs, my mom working two full-time jobs, so me and my brother could go to private school. So I never considered it. It could've been easier, maybe. Maybe in the beginning."
9.Annie (2014) actor Quvenzhané Wallis will never change her name because "that's what [she] was born with."
10.Saoirse Ronan considered changing her name as a child, but when she got older, she "decided [she] was never going to change anything for anyone."
She told the Irish Independent, "When I was a child and nobody else was called Saoirse, I thought, 'Oh, I'd like a normal name,' just because I was a kid."
11.In 1991, Thandiwe Newton's named was misspelled as "Thandie" in the Flirting credits. Letting it slide, she used it as a stage name until 2021, when she reclaimed the original spelling.
She told British Vogue, "That’s my name. It’s always been my name. I’m taking back what’s mine."
12.Raquel Welch, whose first name is Jo, made the decision to go by her middle name as a kid because it was the name she felt most comfortable with. Then, when she grew up and became an actor, she refused Hollywood's request to change her name to "Debbie."
She told the Associated Press, "They wanted to change it and I was not happy at all. I did really feel like Raquel."
13.Bollywood actor Huma Qureshi was advised to change her name because "there's a Pakistani actor with the same name and [she was told] that [she] wouldn't want that association, since [she] wanted to be the leading lady."
She told the Hindustan Times, "I was like, 'I am not going to do that. I will always be Huma Qureshi, and people will have to deal with that.'"
14.And finally, when Andy García first got to Hollywood, Latino actors were pigeonholed into stereotypical roles, and their opportunities were very limited. The first thing every agent he met told him was "change your name," but he decided against it because he believes "the most important thing as an artist is to [have] a very personal connection to who you are."
He told HuffPost, "I always felt that in changing the name, I would lose sort of the essence of how I could personalize the work, my point of view. And it would be, in a way, betraying that, betraying my inner self."