• Viral badge
  • APAHM 2023 badge

"I'm Asking For Basic Respect": 9 Celebrities Who've Stopped To Explain How To Actually Pronounce Their Names During Interviews

"...Close enough!"

If you have a long, complicated, and/or non-English name (speaking from personal experience), you might find yourself letting it go or even expecting it when people completely butcher your name. You might even feel awkward trying to correct people. However, as many celebrities have come to assert, it's common decency to properly pronounce people's names.

So here are nine times celebrities have stopped to explain how to actually pronounce their names during interviews:

1. Steven Yeun

Steven Yeun attends the Los Angeles premiere of Netflix's "BEEF" at TUDUM Theater

In 2016, while interviewing Steven Yeun on his late-night talk show Conan, Conan O'Brien revealed he was horrified when Steven told him — after several years of friendship — that he had been mispronouncing Steven's last name.

Conan explained that while the two were flying home from a trip to South Korea, Steven revealed that Conan had been saying his last name wrong for years — to Conan's absolute horror. Turns out, Conan had been pronouncing Steven's last name as Yoon when it's actually pronounced Yun.

During the segment, Conan joked that Steven had "hundreds of hours" to have corrected him during their friendship, but Steven admitted that he felt bad and said, "You can't stop someone from mispronouncing your name—" to which Conan cut him off, arguing, "Yes, you can!"

Steven then explained that he didn't want to come across as pretentious and embarrass both himself and Conan by correcting him. "So you thought it was better to wait four years and then tell me on television," Conan joked.

So, folks, if you, like Conan, have been saying Steven Yoon instead of Steven Yun, now you know. Watch the full conversation — and hear the proper pronunciation — here:

View this video on YouTube

Team Coco / Conaco / TBS / Via youtube.com

2. Hasan Minhaj

Hasan Minhaj attends the 2023 Film Independent Spirit Awards

In 2019, Hasan Minhaj went viral for making it a point to correct Ellen's pronunciation of his name while on The Ellen DeGeneres Show after she incorrectly said, "And it's Ha-saan Min-aaj."

After correcting Ellen, Hasan told her and the audience that he wanted to take this moment on national television to explain how to properly say his name.

He explained it was important for him to address the mispronunciation because his parents — who had driven six hours from Sacramento to Los Angeles to see him on Ellen — were in the audience.

The camera then panned to Hasan's parents in the audience.

Emphasizing his point, Hasan revealed the different pronunciations of his name he's gotten over the years while pointing out that English names can be just as complex or multisyllabic. "I'm so sorry, I can't pronounce it. Meet my son, Higsby Witherthrottle III!" he joked.

After Hasan encouraged Ellen to try and pronounce his name again, she sheepishly said, "Hasan Min-ijsh." Though wrong, Hasan said he appreciates people making the effort. Ellen then asked him to say his name again and then correctly repeated Hasan's name.

Hasan then shared that people urged him to change his name when he first began doing comedy. However, he argued if people can properly pronounce Ansel Elgort, they should have no problem saying Hasan Minhaj.

The bottom line: Even if you don't quite get it on the first try, it's Ha-san Min-haj — not Ha-saan Min-aaj or Ha-seen Min-aja. Watch the whole moment and listen to the correct pronunciation here:

View this video on YouTube

TheEllenShow / Telepictures / Warner Bros. Television / Via youtube.com

3. Simu Liu

Simu Liu attends The 2023 Met Gala Celebrating "Karl Lagerfeld: A Line Of Beauty" at The Metropolitan Museum of Art

In 2022, Simu Liu attended a basketball game between the New Orleans Pelicans and LA Clippers. During the game, an announcer spotted him in the crowd and shouted him out but butchered Simu's name in the process.

"He played Shang-Chi in the 2021 film Shang-Chi and the Legend of Ten Rings and is Marvel's first-ever Asian superhero," the announcer began, as Simu smiled and pointed to his Clippers hat.

As the announcer got to Simu's name, he completely butchered it, saying, "Let's hear it for Simi-oo Loo!" Immediately, Simu's face dropped before he mouthed, "Close enough." FYI: His name is pronounced See-moo Lee-you.

After the game, the LA Clippers posted a video of the shout-out to their official Twitter account, prompting Simu to retweet it with the response "...Close enough!" and reply, "SUMYOO LOO?!"

@SimuLiu / @LAClippers / Via Twitter: @SimuLiu

Six months prior to the basketball game, Simu actually tweeted about teleprompters displaying the phonetic spelling of his name to prevent hosts from mispronouncing it during award shows. (Ironically, Timothée Chalamet's name doesn't require a phonetic breakdown.)

@SimuLiu / Via Twitter: @SimuLiu

So please, the next time you mention Simu, make sure you're saying See-moo Lee-you, not Simioo Loo. Check out the full clip of the announcement here.


4. Auli'i Cravalho

Auli'i Cravalho attends 20th Century Studio's "Avatar 2: The Way of Water" U.S. Premiere at Dolby Theatre

In 2016, during an interview with USA Today, Auli'i broke down the correct pronunciation of both her first and last name. And it turned out, even her Moana costar Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson had been mispronouncing her last name.

She first began by pronouncing each syllable of her first name, Auli'i: Ow (like you stubbed your toe, she noted), Lee (as in Bruce Lee), Ee (like the letter E).

She then acknowledged people also struggle to properly pronounce her last name, Cravalho — which is actually a misspelling of the Portuguese surname, Carvalho.

This caught the attention of The Rock, who turned to Auli'i and asked, "Cra-vah-li-oo?" After she corrected him, The Rock tried again and pronounced it properly.

The two started laughing as The Rock realized he'd been confidently mispronouncing her name up until that point, and he thanked Auli'i for correcting him. She then jokingly butchered his name, calling him, "D'wan-ye" (like Kanye).

So for future reference, Auli'i Cravalho's name is actually pronounced Ow-lee-e Cra-vah-lio. Please and thanks. Check out the full clip here.

5. Tzuyu

Tzuyu of TWICE attends a photo call of Louis Vuitton's Cruise 2020 Seoul Spin-Off Show

In 2023, Tzuyu appeared as part of the K-pop girl group Twice on The Kelly Clarkson Show. During the segment, Kelly stopped to ask Tzuyu how to properly say her name after noticing their on-stage interpreter pronounce it differently.

"Tzoo-yoo," Kelly originally said before turning to their interpreter to confirm her pronunciation. Their interpreter then pronounced Tzuyu's name both ways — phonetically based on the English romanization, as Kelly had, "Tzoo-yoo," and properly in Korean, "Jjeu-Wee."

Surprised at how far off she was and in spite of their interpreter telling Kelly "Tzoo-yoo is good," Kelly asked their interpreter how she pronounces Tzuyu's name. "In Korean, it's Jjeu-wee," the interpreter explained.

Kelly then turned to Tzuyu herself and asked how she preferred Kelly to say her name. Once the interpreter asked in Korean, Tzuyu responded, "Jjeu-Wee." Kelly then attempted to pronounce her name properly, complimenting the actual pronunciation, as she continued the interview.

We can all learn from Kelly's respect and grace, and the next time you find yourself talking about Twice, remember Tzuyu's name is pronounced Jjeu-wee. Watch their whole interaction here.

View this video on YouTube

The Kelly Clarkson Show / NBC / Via youtube.com

6. Maitreyi Ramakrishnan

Maitreyi Ramakrishnan attends Gold House's 2nd annual Gold Gala

In 2021, after Season 2 of Never Have I Ever dropped and interviewers and fans alike continuously mispronounced her name, Maitreyi took to Twitter to post a voice memo in which she discussed the importance of properly saying people's names and shared how to correctly say her own.

@ramakrishnannn / Via Twitter: @ramakrishnannn

She began by stating that names are not only important but a big part of one's identity. However, many people have actually accused her of not saying her own name — which she loves — correctly. "I do know how to say my own name right," she asserted.

Maitreyi then pointed out that you are the authority when it comes to your name. Nobody knows how to say your name but you, and there's no room for discussion beyond that.

Reflecting on her own experience, Maitreyi revealed she used to accept people mispronouncing her name because she felt like she was inconveniencing them by correcting them. "I used to tell people, 'Yeah, you can call me My-tree, like, whatever. I don't care,'" she said. However, she's since realized it's basic respect to properly pronounce people's names.

Now, whenever she meets new people, Maitreyi makes an "active effort" to ensure they're correctly saying her name — whether it's during an interview or in general.

At the end of the 72-second voice memo, Maitreyi said her name with the correct pronunciation: My-tray-yee Ra-ma-krish-nin. She even said her name in a Tamil accent before adding, "Not expecting people to switch up their accents on me — just asking for basic respect."

After posting the voice memo, Maitreyi replied to her tweet, adding that many people — before the premiere of Never Have I Ever — expected her to change her name to "make it easier." "Cute," she commented.

@ramakrishnannn / Via Twitter: @ramakrishnannn

Not only does Maitreyi make a great point about giving others the basic respect of saying their name right, but now you can be sure you and others around you are saying hers right: My-tray-yee Ra-ma-krish-nin. Listen to her entire voice memo here.

7. Ke Huy Quan

Ke Huy Quan attends the Disney+ Original Series "American Born Chinese" New York premiere at Radio City Music Hall

In 2023, while being interviewed on the Unforgettable Gala Red Carpet, Ke Huy Quan answered interviewer Steven Lim's question about how to properly pronounce his name after noting that there are many different pronunciations of his name on the internet.

Ke said the second part of his name is pronounced Hoo-ee — though he said it quickly enough that it almost sounds like one syllable, like Hoy. After Steven shared some common mispronunciations of Ke's name, Ke joked, "As long as they say my name, it's fine."

Steven also asked if Ke preferred to go by Ke for short as opposed to Ke Huy. "Yes," he replied before explaining it's pronounced the same as a key to the door.

Though Ke is super gracious about people mispronouncing his name, you heard it straight from him: It's Ke Huy Quan, as in Key Hoo-ee Kwon. Listen for yourself here at the 4:00 mark.

View this video on YouTube

Character Media / Via youtube.com

8. Avan Jogia

Avan Jogia attends The Brooklyn Silver Screen Premiere of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

In 2020, while reading thirst tweets on BuzzFeed Celeb, Avan read a tweet that said, "I just need a video of @AvanJogia saying his name over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and."

After, Avan turned to the camera and revealed he actually already made a video repeating his name over and over again — but not as a thirst trap. He created the video because nobody pronounces his name correctly.

Avan then repeated his name — pronounced A-vuhn Joe-ghee-uh — 11 times before confirming, "That's how you say that," and moving on to the next tweet.

Next time you're talking about Avan, remember, it's not Ay-von. It's A-vuhn Joe-ghee-uh. Check out the full video here, and listen to him properly pronounce his name.

View this video on YouTube

BuzzFeed Celeb / Via youtube.com

9. Last but not least: George Takei

George Takei attends the press night performance of "George Takei's Allegiance" at the Charing Cross Theatre

In 2011, George took to Twitter to clarify that his last name — commonly mispronounced as Ta-kai — is actually pronounced Ta-KAY. A few years later, while chatting with Jeff Glor during an interview with CBS Mornings, George again explained how to say his name and gave his take on why it's often mispronounced.

@GeorgeTakei / Via Twitter: @GeorgeTakei

Upon introducing himself, Jeff asked if he was pronouncing George's last name correctly and wondered, "Why did I always say Ta-kai?" George then explained that it's the Germanic pronunciation of E-I, as in Einstein.

However, George joked he doesn't mind the mispronunciation since, in Japanese, ta-kai actually means expensive, prompting the cast to laugh.

Now, after (potentially decades of) calling him George Ta-kai, we all know how to say his name properly: George Ta-kay. Check out the full clip from CBS Mornings here.

View this video on YouTube

CBS Mornings / Via youtube.com

Did you know how to properly pronounce these nine celebrities' names? It goes without saying that it's important to properly pronounce everyone's name — or at least make the effort to say them right. There is, of course, no shortage of mispronounced celebrity names to add to this list. Whose name were you surprised to learn you were mispronouncing? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

Check out more API-centered content by exploring how BuzzFeed is celebrating Asian Pacific American Heritage Month! Of course, the content doesn't end after May. Follow BuzzFeed’s A*Pop on Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube to keep up with our latest API content year-round.

BuzzFeed APAHM graphic