Whether it's for privacy, a desire for some flair or to avoid confusion with performers who have the same name, stars have been using pseudonyms (read: fake names) for years. Find out which of your favorite awards show winners and nominees actually have a different real name than the one you've come to know and love them by, starting with Grammy and Oscar winner John Legend — who's performing the two nominated songs from "La La Land" at the 2017 Academy Awards on Feb. 26. While the soulful singer and musician chose to keep his real first name, his surname wasn't always so legendary. Born John Roger Stephens, he was once hired by Lauryn Hill to play piano for her song "Everything is Everything" and later decided a different last name would be more "old school." Since releasing his debut album under Kanye West's label in 2004, John has received 45 music award nominations and won 10 Grammys — plus a Best Original Song Oscar in 2015. Now keep reading for more…
Born Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, this actress and musical superstar was once a kid from New York City's Upper West Side with dreams of making it as a singer. Now, Lady Gaga's won six of the 17 Grammy Awards for which she's been nominated, received two Emmy nods and even snagged a Golden Globe for her work on "American Horror Story." Pretty impressive, especially considering her first album debuted just eight years ago. Keep reading for more…
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Her family and closest friends know her as Robyn Fenty — her given name. But this Barbados-born star's singular professional name makes our hearts skip a beat. Since releasing her first single, "Pon de Replay," at the tender age of 17, Rihanna (who publicly goes by her middle name) has earned numerous achievements, racking up more than 287 nominations and winning 139 awards, including eight Grammys.
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Born in Ukraine in 1983 as Milena Markovna Kunis, this stunning actress left her home country in 1991 and only seven years later went on to co-star in the wildly popular "That '70s Show" with Ashton Kutcher, who would later become her husband and the father of their two children. To date, Mila Kunis has been nominated for 53 various film awards and won 12, including the MTV Movie Award for Best Villain in "Oz the Great and Powerful."
This former Calvin Klein model-turned-actor, who's also an anti-human trafficking activist, has a more common first name than many realize. Born Christopher Ashton Kutcher, the star dropped "Chris" at the age of 19 and forevermore became Ashton. He has 18 award show wins (including eight Teen Choice Awards) and more than 40 nominations to his name. Oh yeah, he also got to marry the gorgeous Mila Kunis.
This rapper and husband of music superstar Beyonce doesn't actually have a J or a Z in his real name. Born Shawn Corey Carter, the music and business mogul chose Jay Z as an homage to his rap mentor, Jaz-O. Since his career began in the late '80s, he's won 21 of the 64 Grammys for which he's been nominated, founded his own clothing line and become a respected leader in the music industry (plus he married Bey).
While this mom, film star and fiancée of Jason Sudeikis didn't stray from her original first name, she did change her last name before finding fame. Born Olivia Jane Cockburn, she changed her surname to Wilde in honor of Irish playwright Oscar Wilde. Olivia's been nominated for an MTV Movie Award and five Teen Choice Awards and is a passionate advocate for women's rights.
The creator of hits like "Starboy" and "Can't Feel My Face" has said he moved out of his parents' house over the weekend, which led him to his unique stage name. Born as Abel Tesfaye, the music star, who's earned 67 awards and 180 nominations (including two Grammys) claims he hated his real name so he settled on The Weeknd but dropped the last e because another band in his home country of Canada had already claimed it.
When this "Firework" singer released her first album, it was under her real name: Katy Hudson. Realizing another famous Hudson (that would be actress Kate Hudson) was already using the moniker, Katy (born Katheryn Elizabeth Hudson) quickly changed her stage surname to Perry — her mother's maiden name — to avoid any future celebrity confusion. Since then, she's garnered 13 Grammy nominations and won five of the 14 American Music Awards for which she's been nominated.
It might surprise you that Tom Cruise, who's received three Academy Award nods and won three of the seven Golden Globes for which he's been nominated, is a junior three times over. His legal name is Thomas Cruise Mapother IV, and he hails from the Irish O'Mara line that came to the States in the early 1800s. His great-great-grandfather later changed their name to Mapother.
Although she's kept a relatively low profile since her divorce from Ashton Kutcher, this former daytime soap star has a name worthy of attention. Born Demetria Gene Guynes, she later married rock musician Freddy Moore, cementing her stage name as Demi Moore at the age of 18. She's earned several nominations, including for two Golden Globes and eight MTV Movie Awards, winning one in 1993 for her work in "Indecent Proposal."
The story of how Alecia Beth Moore landed on a rosy color for her stage name is quite blush-worthy. Apparently, "It's pink!" was the response she got after showing her lady bits to a male friend. (An alternate story claims she got the nickname because she turned pink when she got embarrassed as a kid.) Since her debut album "Can't Take Me Home" was released in 2000, Pink has been nominated 137 times for various awards and won 104, including three Grammys.
Few would recognize Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou by name as the celebrated British singer George Michael, who got his musical start as a member of '80s pop group Wham! Before this beloved musician and philanthropist passed away in December 2016, he'd won 19 awards, including two Grammys, and received an amazing 56 total nominations.
Originally from Trinidad, this hip-hop star began life as Onika Tanya Maraj before transforming into fierce and feisty Nicki Minaj. While many think rapper Lil Wayne discovered her, she was actually first signed by Dirty Money CEO Fendi. Now this lyrical raptress has made a name for herself with more than 300 award nominations and an astounding 92 wins.
This "24K Magic" singer, who wowed audiences with his outstanding 2017 Grammys tribute to Prince, was born Peter Gene Hernandez in Honolulu, Hawaii. His stage name, Bruno Mars, has some interesting roots. "Bruno is after Bruno Sammartino, who was this big, fat wrestler. I was this chunky little baby, so my dad used to call me that as a nickname," he told Rap-Up. "Mars came up because a lot of girls say I'm out of this world!" Bruno claims that popular reggae music played on the islands influenced his funky hits. To date, Bruno's won five Grammys and two MTV Video Music Awards and was nominated for seven American Music Awards, winning one in 2011.
This troubled star began his life as Carlos Irwin Estevez, the son of Ramón Antonio Gerardo Estévez (also known as Martin Sheen in Hollywood). Charlie Sheen, the brother of actor Emilio Estévez, has received 23 award nominations for his acting and won five times, including a Golden Globe for his work on the TV series "Spin City."
Born David Jones, this legendary, late musician dropped his original surname for two reasons. The first was that the frontman for the '60s band "The Monkees" was named Davy Jones, and the second was because he was fascinated with the character Jim Bowie in the 1960 film "The Alamo." Under his new moniker, David Bowie — as we all know him — won six Grammys, four MTV Video Music Awards and even one Daytime Emmy for his work in "Hollywood Rocks the Movies: The 1970s."
This rap star was once a teen heartthrob on the wildly popular Canadian TV show "Degrassi High." Credited as Aubrey Drake Graham, he later became just Drake in 2009 after circulating a few of his mixtapes to record producers. Now the Canadian half-black Jewish rapper has amassed more than 300 music award nominations and won 64 of the prizes for which he's received nods, including the Grammy for best rap album in 2013.
Born Elizabeth Stamatina Fey, this comedian, writer and actress edited her impressive name to just Tina simply because she liked the way it looked. Since graduating from the University of Virginia with a degree in drama, Tina has earned plenty of accolades, including two Golden Globes and a nomination for a Grammy (no kidding) for the audiobook version of her memoir, "Bossypants."
This Israel-born rock star was originally named Chaim Weitz but changed his name to Eugene Klein upon immigrating to New York. Before co-founding the iconic rock group Kiss in the 1970s, Eugene officially changed his name to Gene Simmons and led his band to a Grammy nomination, a People's Choice Award and even a permanent place in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
Maybe you remember the British actor Michael Caine as Alfred J. Pennyworth, Batman's personal butler in the "Dark Knight" franchise. In real life, he was born Maurice Joseph Micklewhite and he is considered a legend. Still acting at the age of 83, he's won two Academy Awards and three Golden Globes.
His stage name isn't too far of a stretch from his birth name, Stevland Hardaway Judkins. His mother later changed his name to Stevland Morris because she didn't want him associated with his absentee father. Now known as a true "wonder" for his music, Stevie Wonder has won two Grammys and even an Academy Award for his song "I Just Called to Say I Love You."
This country music sensation from the late '90s was once known as Eilleen Regina Edwards before adopting the first name Shania, which means "I'm on my way" in Ojibwa — the language of her stepfather Jerry Twain's native tribe. Shania Twain has since won five Grammys and eight Billboard Music Awards and received hundreds of nominations during her lengthy career.
Born Dwayne Michael Carter Jr., this rap icon was named after his father. The star later dropped the first "D" from his name to disassociate himself from his dad, who he says wasn't around, and transformed himself into Lil Wayne. Now, as a mogul in the music industry and the first producer to sign Drake, Wayne has won five Grammy Awards, including one in 2017, and received more than 165 award nominations.
This actor, who played Batman in 1989, was born Michael John Douglas. Unfortunately, by the time he decided to become an actor, there was already a very famous Michael Douglas in Hollywood, so changing his name was a necessity. Since starring in "Night Shift" in 1982, Michael Keaton has earned 63 awards, including a 2015 Golden Globe for his performance in the film "Birdman."
Who would have guessed that this outspoken TV host, actress and comedian began her life as Caryn Elaine Johnson? Whoopi Goldberg has explained that her stage name came from being so gassy that people told her she was "like a whoopee cushion." (As for her last name, according to Time magazine, "Whoopi's mother thought that a Jewish surname would get her further in Hollywood, so she replaced Johnson with Goldberg.) Now this Academy Award-winning actress, who has 54 total award wins and 75 various nominations to her (stage) name, can experience flatulence any time she wants without issue.
This English musician, songwriter and singer was originally named Declan Patrick Aloysius Macmanus but later changed it to honor both his father, whose stage name was Costello, and the king of rock 'n' roll, Elvis Presley. Since striking out on his own in the music world, Elvis Costello has been nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song and won a Grammy for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals.
Although his real name is Shelton Jackson Lee, this famous filmmaker was nicknamed Spike by his mother when he was just a baby because of his resilience. Since his career began, Spike Lee has managed to ruffle feathers in Hollywood but is known for creating cinematic magic. In 2016, he was bestowed an honorary Academy Award to acknowledge his legacy as "a champion of independent film and an inspiration to young filmmakers" (although he didn't attend the ceremony).
When this English actor took on the role of Gandhi in 1982, many expressed concern that an Indian hadn't been cast in the role. It turns out, one had. Born Krishna Pandit Bhanji, the son of an English actress and a Gujurati Indian doctor, Ben Kingsley changed his name in the '60s for fear that it would lead him to lose out on roles. Now, as an Academy Award-winning stage and film actor with 65 various award nominations under his belt, Sir Ben can safely put that worry aside.
This Sunshine State native, whose legal name is Tramar Lacel Dillard, was inspired by his birthplace when searching for a catchy rap alias. "I sat up there for about an hour and finally, it hit me," the star told MTV. Since hitting the scene, Flo Rida has been nominated for four Grammys and won a People's Choice Award in 2009 for his hit "Low" with fellow rapper T-Pain.