While celebrities are known by millions the globe over, what you may not know is some A-listers don’t go by the names they were given at birth.

From supermodel Gigi Hadid to superstar singer Rihanna, find out these stars’ real names and the story behind why they changed them.

Gigi Hadid – Jelena Noura Hadid

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While we all know the supermodel as Gigi, she was born Jelena which is pronounced Yelena, but as a nickname was called Gigi by family.

However, when she started school Jelena became difficult to pronounce so she began going by ‘Gigi’ full-time. “In first or second grade, there was a girl named Helena and it got confusing with the teacher who had to call out our names, and so the teacher asked my mom, ‘If I needed to call Jelena a nickname, what would it be?’ And my mom was like, ‘I call her Gigi sometimes,’ and the name stuck,” Gigi told Vogue in a 2015 interview.

As for her middle name Noura, which is her Arabic name as her father, Mohamed Hadid, told Turkey-based newspaper the Daily Sabah earlier this year.

Marilyn Monroe – Norma Jeane Mortenson

Marilyn Monroe

Marilyn Monroe is one of the icons of old Hollywood. When she began her career in tinsel town in 1946, she opted for the stage name we all know and love her as. Her first name was picked by Ben Lyon, a 20th Century-Fox executive, as she reportedly reminded him of Marilyn Miller. To match the first name, she took Monroe which was her mother’s maiden name.

Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex – Rachel Meghan Markle


While she’s now known as Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex after marrying Prince Harry in 2018. Prior to this, the former Suits star was known as Meghan Markle in the acting world. However, she was actually born Rachel Meghan Markle and opted to go by her middle name when she started acting.

Rihanna – Robyn Rihanna Fenty


The Grammy Award winner has always gone by her middle name Rihanna, but some of her family still call her by her birth name.  “I get kind of numb to hearing Rihanna, Rihanna, Rihanna,” she told Rolling Stone in 2011. “When I hear Robyn, I pay attention.”

However, what surprised many fans in 2017 when she launched her beauty brand Fenty Beauty, many were unaware of the brand was named after her last name Fenty.

Miley Cyrus – Destiny Hope Cyrus


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As a child, the actress and singer was frequently called Miley (originated from Smiley) which she later adopted as her stage name.

Shay Mitchell – Shannon Ashley Garcia Mitchell


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The actress got her stage name as she is a big fan of J.Lo, her friends would call her ‘Shay Lo’ which reverted to Shay when her acting career took off.

George Michael – Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou


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As the son of a Cypriot immigrant, the late singer decided to make his name more British. His surname Michael derived from a childhood friends’ father, Michael Mortimer.

Travis Scott – Jacques Berman Webster II


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The rapper’s stage moniker is very different from his birth name, Jacques Berman Webster II. His first and last names are an ode to his uncle.

Nina Dobrev – Nikolina Konstantinova Dobreva


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Born in Bulgaria, Nina Dobrev relocated to Canada with her family when she was a toddler. Like many, she opted to shorten her name for ease when she started acting.

Snoop Dogg – Calvin Cordozar Broadus, Jr.


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Due to his style, the young Calvin Cordozar Broadus was nicknamed “Snoopy” by his mother. The latter of his recognizable name, Dogg, comes from his love of a famous cartoon character.

Brad Pitt – William Bradley Pitt

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Quite simply, the actor uses his middle name as his pseudonym.

Mila Kunis – Milena Markovna Kunis


The actress shortened her name when she moved from Ukraine to the USA.

The Weeknd – Abel Makkonen Tesfaye


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It’s probably fairly obvious that The Weeknd’s name isn’t his real moniker. Born as Abel Makkonen Tesfaye, the rapper left home at the age of 17. He opted for the stage name The Weeknd when he and a friend “left one weekend and never came home”. He had to remove the ‘e’ in weekend as there was a band already name ‘The Weekend’ at the time.

Lady Gaga – Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta

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As you’d guess, Lady Gaga isn’t the singer’s real name. Born Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, she opted for the stage name ‘Lady Gaga’ when she began her career which was inspired by Queen’s hit song Radio Ga Ga. 

Reese Witherspoon  – Laura Jeanne Reese Witherspoon

reese witherspoon

Born Laura Jeanne Reese Witherspoon, the name ‘Reese’ is actually the actress’ mother’s maiden name, which she opted to use as her first name when her acting career began.

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