Hollywood has a long history of pressuring aspiring performers to change (i.e. anglicize) their names to make them more "palatable" to an American audience or to prevent themselves from being boxed into stereotypical roles. Other times, celebs have been told to shorten or change their names because casting directors couldn't pronounce them. Some have even been pressured to change their names for, honestly, no reason at all. It's been happening since the early days of film and unfortunately continues today.
Here are 14 celebrities who were pressured to change their names to get ahead in Hollywood:
1.Óscar Isaac Hernández Estrada initially auditioned for roles with the surname Hernández. However, casting directors would only see him for stereotypical roles like "the gangster," so he decided to use Oscar Isaac instead.
2.When Vera Mindy Chokalingam started doing stand-up, she shortened her name to Mindy Kaling because "emcees for these comedy shows would have trouble pronouncing it, and then they'd make a joke about [her] last name."
3.Peter Hernandez grew up with the nickname Bruno, but after several years in the music industry, he adopted the stage name Bruno Mars because people kept comparing him to Enrique Iglesias and insisting he should do Latin or Spanish music.
4.Ramón Estévez started his acting career under the name Martin Sheen because "sometimes you get persuaded when you don't have enough insight or even enough courage to stand up for what you believe in." He later regretted the decision but was proud of his son Emilio Estévez for keeping his name.
5.Margarita Cansino acted under the name Rita Cansino until her first husband/agent, Eddie Judson, decided it sounded "too ethnic" and convinced her to change it to Rita Hayworth.
6.When MGM signed silent film star Anita Pomares, they changed her name to Ann Page. However, because there was already another actor with that name, the studio again renamed her Anita Page.
7.Aaron Paul Sturtevant dropped his last name because casting directors struggled to pronounce it.
8.Theodore Peter James Kinnaird Taptiklis decided to act under the name Theo James because Taptiklis is "one of those names" and "kind of hard to say."
9.When Harry Bratsberg started acting, he was pressured to change his name to Harry Morgan — a choice he later wished he'd never made.
10.When she was nine, Brianne Desaulniers chose the stage name Brie Larson because she was already "sick" of people mispronouncing her French last name.
11.When Esteban Ernesto Echevarría Samson started acting, there was "a very small restricted area for anyone with foreign names." He first worked under the name Rocky Echevarría, but he later changed it to Steven Bauer because "no one could pronounce Echevarría" and "in the early days, it also eliminated the problem of 'he’s Latino.'"
12.When Lucille LeSueur signed with MGM, the studio held a contest for the public to vote on her new stage name. The winning name was Joan Crawford, which she reportedly hated.
13.Feeling that his birth name was too hard to pronounce, Paweł Wasilewski "asked [his] family's permission to change it." He became Paul Wesley, which "really helped [his] career."
14.And finally, James Rodriguez adopted the stage name James Roday because "the first two experiences [he] had auditioning for work as an actor were both highly informed by the fact that [his] name did not match [his] skin tone." However, in 2020, he decided to change his name to James Roday Rodriguez because he wanted "to be the best, most honest ally and amplifier that [he] can be for [his] own community and for [his] friends of color."
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