Portia de Rossi sounds like a very Italian name but the star was first known as Amanda Lee Rogers. How did she come to choose “Portia de Rossi” as her stage name? She took the first name from the character in one of her favorite Shakespearian plays, “Merchant of Venice”.
The “de Rossi” portion was just to add a bit of flair to the already Italian-style name. But these days, she is known as Portia Lee James DeGeneres.
Many might be surprised, but Ben Kingsley was actually born as Krishna Pandit Bhanji. His father was of Indian descent and his mother was English. He was born in Yorkshire, England, and decided to take the surname “Kingsley” from his grandfather’s trade (“King Clove”) name when he worked as a spice trader.
His first name also was a sort of adopted nickname. The change officially came after he joined the Royal Shakespeare Company and started to, quite literally, make a name for himself as an actor.
DJ Calvin Harris is known privately as Adam Richard Wiles. The Scotland native decided to change to the stage name of “Calvin Harris” after releasing his first song, which had more of a “soul” sound. His motivations for selecting a new name almost got him into trouble.
He has since worked alongside some of the biggest hitmakers like Rhianna, Ne-Yo, Florence Welch, Ellie Goulding, John Newman, Frank Ocean, Ariana Grande, and many more.
A Fresh Start
The iconic singer had the name Reginald Kenneth Dwight on his birth certificate but the title wouldn’t suit him for very long. He changed his name in 1967, selecting the names of his saxophone player and the lead singer of his band at the time, Bluesology, for his new identity.
Reportedly, he wanted to change his name, primarily to distance himself from a difficult past and start fresh. He said that taking on the name “Elton John” gave him the new beginning he was looking for.
Pick a Name
The name Meg Ryan may sound very ordinary but it is actually the actress’s stage name. Ryan was born as Margaret Mary Emily Anne Hyra (perhaps her parents simply...couldn’t decide on a name?). When she entered the Screen Actors Guild, she shortened her first name to “Meg” and took her grandmother’s maiden name of “Ryan”.
The name made it easier for her name to be remembered in Hollywood’s executive’s minds far more than say, Margaret Mary Emily Anne Hyra.