Emma Lord
April 09, 2015 11:31 am

I think we’d all be lying if we said we haven’t come up with at least a few fake names for ourselves. I mean, just think of all the times it would come in handy: you’d already have the work halfway done if you were going to be a spy, or if you had to join Disney’s Princess Protection Program, or if you just wanted to see if Starbucks could spell something right on a cup for once.

Of course, we usually dismiss this idea as soon as we think of it. Our names are pretty ingrained, whether we like it or not. But you’d be surprised just how many celebrities have gone to great lengths to change their names before hitting the big time — and, in honor of Name Yourself Day, we compiled a whole list of celebs you might not even realized were born with different names. Hey, maybe your fave secretly has the same name as you! Even if they don’t … well, it’s Name Yourself Day, so today you can be named whatever the heck you want. Here are the people who already did just that:

1. Katy Perry

Real name: Katheryn Hudson

Katy Perry actually did release one of her early Gospel CDs under her original name, but this change was merely one of practicality, since Kate Hudson was already a famous actress at the time.

2. Emma Stone

Real name: Emily Jean Stone

Emma reason for changing her name was similar to Katy Perry’s: It turned out there already was an Emma Stone registered in the actor’s union, so she decided to change her name slightly. She briefly went by Riley while acting in Malcom In The Middle, but decided it would have to be Emma when she accidentally ignored everyone calling her name.

3. Lorde

Real name: Ella Yelich-O’Connor

She always knew she wanted to have a stage name, and “Lord” sounded very regal to her. She decided the perfect touch would be adding the “e” to the end to make it more feminine (although she’s still Ella to her BFF Taylor Swift!).

4. Natalie Portman

Real name: Natalie Hershlag

After she was cast in her first film, Natalie decided to go with her paternal grandmother’s maiden name, Portman, in the interest of protecting her family’s private life.

5. Dakota Fanning 

Real name: Hannah Dakota Fanning

Her mother wanted to name her Hannah and her father wanted to name her Dakota, so her original name was how they compromised. As fate would have it, her mother may have won the battle, but her father clearly won the war.

6. Elle Fanning

Real name: Mary Elle Fanning

Apparently Dakota set a trend: the story behind Elle Fanning’s name switch is the exact same as her older sister’s. Guess their dad was a champion name picker?

7. Lana del Rey

Real name: Elizabeth Woolridge Grant

Lana del Rey actually performed with some success under the stage name Lizzy Grant in the early millennium, but when she rebranded herself she wanted to go in an entirely different direction. She said about change: “I wanted a name I could shape the music towards. I was going to Miami quite a lot at the time, speaking a lot of Spanish with my friends from Cuba. Lana Del Rey reminded us of the glamour of the seaside. It sounded gorgeous coming off the tip of the tongue.”

8.  Miley Cyrus
Real name: Destiny Hope Cyrus
When she was a baby, her father Billy Ray Cyrus always called her “Smiley.” Eventually it evolved into Miley, and the well-suited name stuck.

9. Nicki Minaj

Real name: Onika Tanya Maraj

Her original stage name was Nicki Maraj, her nickname and original last name. “Big Fendi,” her former manager, is the one she credits with changing it to something that flowed better off the tongue.

10. Demi Lovato

Real name: Demetria Devonne Lovato

“Demi” was a childhood nickname that eventually became the star’s professional name as well. The unique name she was given derives from Demeter, the goddess of the harvest in Greek mythology.

11. Lea Michele

Real name: Lea Sarfati

She said originally she was annoyed by playground bullies: “I got Lea So-fatty, Lea So-farty at school,” she explained on The Tonight Show in 2011. ‘When I was little and I went on my first audition, they were like, ‘And may we have your name?’ And I was like, ‘Lea Michele.’ And I’ve been Lea Michele ever since.”

12. Shay Mitchell

Real name: Shannon Mitchell

Shay didn’t ever intentionally change her name. As much as she liked it, she started going by Shay as a teenager working as a hostess in a sports bar, and it stuck professionally after that.

13. Lucy Hale

Real name: Karen Lucille Hale

Two pretty little liars in a row! Lucy revealed the truth of her first name promoting her album on the Ellen show this past October, although she didn’t clarify exactly why the switch was made.

14. Reese Witherspoon

Real name: Laura Jeanne Reese Witherspoon

There’s not a lot of background on why Reese decided to go with her mother’s maiden name rather than her first or middle name, but it was established legally before her star really took off.

15. Rihanna

Real name: Robyn Rihanna Fenty

Oh now, now, what’s her name? Turns out it’s actually Robyn. She still thinks of herself as Robyn, but thought her middle name made a catchier stage name.

16. Blake Lively

Real name: Blake Ellender Brown

OK, here’s a dose of confusion: Blake’s father’s last name is Brown, but when her parents married, her dad took her mother’s surname, which is Lively. At some point Blake just decided to join the party and take her mother’s last name, too.

(Images from , here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.)