15 Celebs Who Made Small Changes To Their Real Names

Danielle Broadway
name tags and markers
Unsplash | Jon Tyson

While many of us could recite the names of our favorite celebrities in our sleep, not everyone knows that the stars they love may be going by names they weren't born with. It's common for people to adopt what they call "stage names" to help establish their careers in the entertainment world, but it can be tricky to know who's going by a birth name and who's taken on a stage name. That's why we've gathered 15 celebs that have made slight changes to their legal names that may shock you.

1. Fergie

While many of us can't imagine Fergie having a different name, she was actually born Stacy Ann Ferguson. Her stage name comes from her last name, Ferguson. In 2013, she chose to make her stage name her real name and had it legally changed to Fergie. She used her former husband's last name, making her Fergie Duhamel.

2. Nicki Minaj

While most know her as Nicki Minaj, the famous rapper's name is actually Onika Maraj. Her close friends also refer to her as Nicki or Cooky. Despite her reservations, she was convinced that her stage name would resonate with fans more.

3. Meryl Streep

Meryl Streep
Giphy | 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

While people know the iconic The Devil Wears Prada star well, they may not know that her name is actually Mary. Following a family tradition on her mother's side, she was named Mary. However, her father nicknamed her Meryl — which she hated at first. Eventually, the name grew on her and became the name that she's carried with her as one of Hollywood's greatest stars.

4. Nina Dobrev

In many cases stars opt for shorter names to help them get bigger careers. For Nina Dobrev, this seemed to be the way to go when she exchanged her original name, Nikolina Dobrev, for Nina Dobrev. We think it may have worked pretty well for her.

5. Barbra Streisand

While this one is pretty minor, it's still a shock to learn that this Broadway idol made a small change to her name. She went from spelling her first name as "Barbara" to "Barbra." She took the second "a" out of her name to be unique while also still feeling like herself.

6. Ashton Kutcher

Kutcher was 19 and beginning his acting career when he decided he needed a change. He went from Christopher Ashton Kutcher to Ashton Kutcher, ultimately opting to go by his middle name and drop his first name. We, personally, can't imagine him as a Christopher.

7. Jason Derulo

Many people with names that are hard to pronounce try to think of all kinds of ways to help others say them. Yet, we can't think of a strategy quite as clever as the one this singer came up with. "Derulo" is the phonetic spelling of "Desrouleaux," which is Jason's original last name. So, in many ways, he never gave up his last name---he kind of outsmarted the system. He even named his son after his stage name — Jason King Derulo is adorable!

8. Emma Stone

Emma Stone
Giphy | Giphy

It took Stone a few tries before she got her first name just right. First, she was Emily Stone at birth, then for a minute she was Riley Stone, and finally, Emma Stone. She settled on Emma to pay homage to her favorite Spice Girl, Baby Spice.

9. Michael J. Fox

Before he was Michael J. Fox, the actor was known as Michael A. Fox. The "A" stands for Andrew, but he decided to change it up after there was already a Michael A. Fox registered in the Screen Actor's Guild. This subtle change led to a largely successful career.

10. Oprah Winfrey

Here's one that will blow some minds. It may seem random, but Oprah Winfrey was born Orpah Winfrey. When it was hard for some to pronounce Orpah, she decided to put the "P" in front of the "R." However, her birth certificate still says "Orpah."

11. Jennifer Aniston

Once upon a time, Jennifer Aniston went by Jennifer Anastassakis, but it was changed after she and her family moved away from Greece.

12. Missy Elliot

Missy elliott
Giphy | Missy Elliott

Originally Melissa Arnette Elliot, this rapper decided to choose something with a little bit more personality for her stage name, Missy Elliot.

13. Mila Kunis

Mila Kunis

While everyone knows her as Mila Kunis, the That 70's Show actor was actually born as, Milena Markovna Kunis. She's always been open about her Ukrainian Jewish roots, but decided to adopt "Mila" as her stage name.

14. Liam Neeson

This is one actor that decided to do some slicing and dicing with his original first name, William. While it's not far from his stage name, "William" does seem to have a different vibe than the Liam we're used to.

15. John Legend

John Legend is yet another childhood nickname that stuck after this singer went by John Roger Stephens for some years. His friends gave him the nickname, and before he knew it, people recognized him as "Legend" more than "Stephens." We have to admit, it's kind of epic to have "Legend" as a last name.

Let us know what you think of these slight celeb name changes in the comments and if any of them surprised you.