Choosing a Stage Name for Yourself
Those who are actors and celebrities need to change their names carefully. There are quite a few regulations and factors that they need to consider when they are doing so. Find out more here.
Choosing a stage name is no easy venture, unless you are a celebrity on your own or are a rising star. But this happens all the time, and in all parts of the world too. When you are selecting the name, you have to be careful because after all, the name you select will stick to you, particularly if you and your performance become famous. Here are some hints that may be found useful in selecting a stage name. But beware, do not choose a stage name that has already been taken or you are likely to be hounded by the Screen Actors Guild in the United States and British Actors’ Equity Association (AEA) in UK, both of which stipulate that no two members can have identical stage names.
Hint # 1While choosing a stage name, try to simplify the name as much as possible to make it easier to spell and pronounce. Andy Warhol deleted an ‘a’ from his original name [Warhola] to make it sound better while Rodolfo Alfonso Raffaello Piero Filiberto Guglielmi adopted the stage name of Rudolph Valentino since American casting directors found his mile long original surname too difficult to pronounce. Also, make sure that there is no supposed obscenity attached to your name or surname. Hal Linden, born Harold Lipshitz had to change to the stage name for fear that the implanted obscenity in his original surname might cost him work or make him infamous.
Hint # 2If you are related to a celebrity, choose a different last name while choosing a stage name so that you are not perceived to have received undue benefit from the family connection. Instances of such matters are quite common in the show business. Nicolas Coppola, nephew of Francis Ford Coppola adopted the stage name of Nicolas Cage to avoid the Coppola connection while the brother of Paul McCartney became known as Mike McGear. In case you are encouraged to receive benefit from your celebrity near and dear ones, you may do so after taking the necessary permission, which happened in the case of Lon Chaney Sr.’s son Creighton who spent quite sometime appearing in inconsequential roles before rechristening himself as Lon Chaney Jr.
Hint # 3Whatever you may do in choosing a stage name for yourself, do not disregard the rules and regulations framed by Screen Actors Guild (SAG) in the US or British Actors’ Equity Association in the United Kingdom. In fact, none has so far done it. Even James Stewart had to change to Stewart Granger as his original name was already in use. So is the case with Michael Andrew Fox who became Michael J. Fox because another Michael Fox was in circulation. Actress Vanessa Williams became Vanessa L. Williams as there was another actress (though less notable) by the same name. Same was the case with Nathan Lane, whose birth name Joseph Lane was already registered with SAG in the United States. So if you have a perfectly great name but find that this name is already in use, it is simply bad luck and nothing else. You are left with no other choice but to change it.
Hint # 4While choosing a stage name for yourself, make sure that it is easy to pronounce, easy to spell and easy to remember. Moreover, it should be forceful and not meek enough to become soluble with hundreds of other weak looking names. In many cases it has been observed that effective performers have lost ground simply because they have neglected to select a powerful stage name for themselves. But some who had paid enough attention to this part of the entertainment world have reaped good harvest out of it. Born Maurice Micklewhite, the outstanding actor Michael Caine chose the name Michael because he preferred the resounding boom in it while the Caine part of it came from the then stirring movie that was known as The Caine Mutiny. What a great combination, indeed.
Hint # 5While choosing a stage name for yourself, you may also use it as your ‘professional name’. At least a lot of people have done it in the past. For instance, Robert Allen Zimmerman’s lawful name was Robert Dylan or Bob Dylan since he changed it in the New York City Supreme Court in August, 1962. Same is the case with Elton John who was born as Reginald Dwight but had it changed by Deed Poll and since then it has become his accepted name. As a result, when he was knighted, he became Sir Elton John and not Sir Reginald Dwight. So, bon voyage for choosing a stage name for yourself, but get it registered ASAP before anyone else takes it away.