Reese Witherspoon, John Legend, Bruno Mars, Rihanna—it's as if these celebrities were destined to make it big in Hollywood from the moment their parents signed their birth certificate. But as it turns out, some of the most acclaimed household names weren't born with the golden ticket to stardom. Instead, they paved their own ways, often adopting a stage name to help open doors. Ahead, 30 of the most well-known celebs who actually go by pseudonyms, plus the stories behind when and why they chose to forgo their birth names.
Born: Alicia Augello-Cook
The singer/songwriter told she wanted to to change her last name to be better suited for the stage, and was considering taking on the title "Alicia Wild"—but her mom said no. "She said, 'It sounds like you're a stripper,"' said Keys, so the singer considered a more musical moniker. "It's like the piano keys. And it can open so many doors," she explained.
Born: Christopher Ashton Kutcher
Ashton Kutcher revealed his real first name at the 2013The actor and he feels like a fraud, : “My name is not even actually Ashton.” The funny guy explained that he decided to go by his middle name when he was first trying to make it in Hollywood at the age of 19.
Born: William Bradley Pitt
Despite going by his middle name in his professional life, reports that the newly-single actor introduces himself by his given name, William, when he's flirting with women. We're guessing any woman would see right through Pitt's not-so-pseudo-nym.
Born: Peter Gene Hernandez
In a 2013 interview with , the "Finesse" singer explained that he's been Bruno for almost his entire life. Though he was born Peter Hernandez, he received the nickname Bruno because as a toddler, he looked like the famous wrestler Bruno Sammartino. But Bruno Hernandez wasn't cutting it in the music world. "Your last name's Hernandez, maybe you should do this Latin music, this Spanish music... Enrique's so hot right now," the singer told the publication of the responses he received while trying to start his music career. Thus, he adopted the Mars surname.
Born: Adam Richard Wiles
Fans were a little confused when Taylor Swift gave her former boyfriend a shout-out at the iHeart Radio Music Awards, calling him "Adam." In a later interview with , Harris explained that he adopted his stage name in an attempt to be more "racially ambiguous." "My first single was more of a soul track, and I thought Calvin Harris sounded a bit more racially ambiguous. I thought people might not know if I was black or not. After that, I was stuck with it."
Born: Belcalis Almanzar
Although we know her as Cardi B, true fans know that the musician was actually given a much longer name at birth: . Cardi B is actually short for Bacardi, like the rum. My sister's name is Hennessy," Cardi B to Jimmy Fallon. "So everyone used to call me Bacardi, and I started calling myself Bacardi," which eventually was shorted to Cardi B."
Born: Deme Gene Guynes
Most people don't know that Demi Moore married rock musician Freddy Moore when she was just 17 years old and . The marriage lasted four-and-a-half years, but the actress decided to keep his surname as her stage name.
Born: Aubrey Drake Graham
In the early aughts, the actor-turned-rapper starred in the Canadian high school drama TV series Degrassi: The Next Generation, where he was known as Aubrey Graham. , when he started pursuing a rap career, he dropped the Aubrey and started going by Drake.
Born: Emily Jean Stone
The La La Land actress told that she had to rebrand herself when she was 16 years old because there was already an Emily Stone in Hollywood. "I changed it to Emma because you know it's closer to Emily, but most people call me "M," that know me well," the actress to the publication.
Born: Christopher Edwin Breaux
The musician Ocean was born Christopher Edwin Breaux, but didn't feel like the moniker was "cool" enough. In a 2011 interview with , he said: "I changed my name on my birthday last year. It was the most empowering sh*t I did in 2010, for sure. I went on LegalZoom and changed my f*cking name. It just felt cool."
"None of us are our names," the "Novacane" singer . "If you don’t like your name then change your name. I’m only a few steps into the process, so I probably shouldn’t even be talking about this, but by the beginning of summer I’ll be straight. I’ll be boarding planes as Christopher Francis Ocean."
Born: Jelena Noura Hadid
True fans know that the world-renowned supermodel uses a pseudonym. Born Jelena (pronounced Yelena), Hadid was called Gigi early on, but only by her close family. "My mom was called that as a kid by her mother when she was younger, but only around the house," in a 2015 interview. "I was called that around the house when I was really young, kind of like how my mom was called it."
Then in grade school, when Jelena became confusing, Gigi became Gigi full-time. "In first or second grade, there was a girl named Helena and it got confusing with the teacher who had to call out our names, and so the teacher asked my mom, 'If I needed to call Jelena a nickname, what would it be?' And my mom was like, 'I call her Gigi sometimes,' and the name stuck," the model .
Born: Ilyena Lydia Mironoff
The British actress was actually born Ilyena Lydia Mironoff, but her father the family's last name from Mironoff to Mirren in the fifties. Ilynea then simplified her first name to Helen when she embarked on her acting career.
Born: Eric Marlon Bishop
In an in 2015, Foxx explained that he changed his name when he first started doing standup comedy, and tried out a unisex name for more stage time. "I noticed that like 1,000 guys showed up and only three girls, but the three girls would always get a spot," Foxx of signing up for a standup slot. "So I went to the list and wrote down a unisex name... Jamie Foxx."
Born: John Roger Stephens
, and it kind of grew into my stage name," Legend explained to in a 2008 interview. "'Legend' is something that I never would have chosen for myself originally. It grew to the point where more people in my circle would know me by that name than by my real name."
So, Legend explained that he decided to take on the legendary moniker. "I was just like, 'You know what? Let's just go for it. People are going to pay attention and I'm going to either live up to my name or I'm not,'" jed . "My bet was on me trying to live up to the name."
Born: Julie Anne Smith
Like what happened to Emma (formerly Emily) Stone, Julie Anne Smith was told that she had to change her name because there was already a Julie Smith and a Julie Anne Smith in the Screen Actors Guild (SAG). “When I went to join SAG as Julie Smith, they were like, ‘There’s a Julie Smith, there’s a Julie Anne Smith. You have to choose another name,’” the actress .
“My dad’s name was Peter Moore Smith, and my mother’s name was Anne Smith, and I used both their names so I wouldn’t hurt anybody’s feelings,” Moore of finding her stage name.
Born: Katheryn Elizabeth Hudson
The "I Kissed A Girl" singer explains that her stage name came about during her adolescent identity crisis. “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,” the singer told .
"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,'" Perry . "I didn’t want to be Katheryn Hudson. I hated that, it was too scary for me, so I decided to be someone else.”
Born: Christopher Catesby Harington
In an interview with , the Game of Thrones star revealed that his parents didn't tell him his real name was Christopher until he was 11 years old. "I think they could see that I wanted to be Kit, but Christopher was a bit of a tradition," Harington . "My brother's name is Jack, but his real name is John. Kit is traditionally an offshoot of Christopher, it's just not used that often. My middle name is Catesby."
Born: Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta
Before she became an international pop star, Germanotta adopted her now-famous stage name, the 1984 Queen song "Radio Ga Ga." Gaga for all her acting projects.
Born: Elizabeth Woolridge Grant
Lana Del Rey was Lizzy (Elizabeth) Grant until she turned 25 and , Lana Del Rey.
Born: Ella Marija Lani Yelich-O'Connor
Lorde's pseudonym is only for the stage. "I much prefer being called Ella," the New Zealand-born musician told . "I basically chose Lorde because I wanted a name that was really strong and had this grandeur to it. I didn't feel that my birth name was anything special. I always liked the idea of having, like, a one-named alias."
Born: Amanda Leigh Moore
"I had never really owned my name," Mandy Moore explained in a 2009 interview with . "It was just synonymous with my parents being mad at me." And can you blame her for wanting to be Mandy Moore? It has a ring to it.
Born: Rachel Meghan Markle
It's now common knowledge that , though her birth name doesn't much matter, as she's now .
Born: Destiny Hope Cyrus
Miley Cyrus’s stage title developed out of a childhood nickname. Apparently, as a child, Destiny Hope was always grinning, so her family called her , which evolved to Miley. Then, in 2008, the "Malibu" singer legally changed her name.
Born: Vera Mindy Chokalingam
Mindy Kaling wasn't born a Mindy. The actress's parents are originally from India and wanted to give their daughter a Hindu name, but Mindy always preferred her middle name. "Vera isn't just an old Russian lady's name; it's an incarnation of a Hindu goddess," the actress told in 2006. "But they never called me it." Then, when the actress was trying to make her way as an actress, she also opted to shorten her last name from Chokalingam to Kaling.
Born: Neta-Lee Hershlag
Born in Israel, Natalie Portman was given a traditional Hebrew name, but upon emigrating to the United States in 1984, the family changed the Hershlag surname to Portman, the actress's maternal grandmother’s maiden name, and Neta-Lee became Natalie.
Born: Onika Tanya Maraj
In a 2012 interview with , the female rapper explained that she didn't even choose her stage name. “Somebody changed my name,” she the publication. “One of the first production deals I signed, the guy wanted my name to be Minaj and I fought him tooth and nail. But he convinced me. I’ve always hated it.” But around close family, the rapper added, she prefers to be called by her given name, Onika. “My rule is, whatever you were calling me four years ago is what you should be calling me now, because I don’t like it when my family or close friends call me Nicki Minaj," she . "To me I’m not Nicki Minaj when I’m with them.”
Born: Olivia Cockburn
The actress's stage name is an ode to Oscar Wilde. The actress after playing Gwendolen in her high school's rendition of Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest.
Born: Laura Jeanne Reese Witherspoon
Early in , then-Laura Jeanne adopted her mother's maiden name as her first name.
Born: Robyn Rihanna Fenty
Musically, the "Wild Thoughts" singer has always gone by her middle name, Rihanna. But the artist told that her friends and family still call her Robyn, especially when they want to get her attention. “I get kind of numb to hearing Rihanna, Rihanna, Rihanna,” she the publication. “When I hear Robyn, I pay attention.”
Born: Elizabeth Stamatina Fey
Tina is actually a shorted version of the actress and comedian's middle name, Stamatina. Interestingly, Fey's 30 Rock persona, Liz Lemon, is actually , Elizabeth.