That Is NOT Your Name…! 10 Celebs Whose Government Names Were A Surprise To Us

December 27, 2012  |  
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If someone were to say that they were a fan of a singer named Kelendria, would you know they were talking about Kelly Rowland? If I tell you I used to have a crush on Elgin Lumpkin, would you immediately know I was talking about Ginuwine? Well, if you were a thirsty fan like me back in the day, you probably knew too. But that’s the thing about celebrities and their government names. If it’s not the sexiest or coolest thing you’ve ever heard (or if it’s just too long), most will ditch it for a funky stage name or flip their name around in the hopes that they’ll have an easier time making it in the entertainment industry. So when we find out their real names, sometimes it’s a surprise. A very interesting surprise. Just check out these 10 names and you’ll understand what I mean.

Source: WENN

Shaunie O’Neal – Va’Shaundya Nelson

The entrepreneur, TV personality, and person we have to blame for the ratchetness of Basketball Wives hasn’t been known as Va’Shaundya since she’s been in the public eye trying to build her own empire. She’s been trying to push “Shaunie” since she started hosting small sports shows and doing correspondent work for entertainment programs, and now that she’s a respected producer, I’m sure we won’t be hearing anybody call her Va’Shaundya (except for maybe moms?). It’s not a bad name though, it has personality in fact!

Miley Cyrus  – Destiny Hope Cyrus

With a father named Billy Ray and a mom named Tish, I think I always just assumed that Miley was the name the former Disney star and now wild young adult was born with. But psych my mind mind and make my booty shine, the young’n was actually born Destiny Hope Cyrus. Coincidentally, her parents allegedly named her Destiny Hope because they had high “hopes” for her future. But her nickname was for some reason, Smiley, and being so partial to it I guess, the actress/singer decided to shorten it to Miley before she wound up blowing up. She officially changed her name to Miley in 2008 because I guess her “Destiny” had been fulfilled…?

Source: WENN

Charlie Sheen – Carlos Irwin Estevez

I know what you’re thinking: Who the hell is Carlos!? Weeeell, if you didn’t know this about actor Martin Sheen and his family (because I’m sure you didn’t care), they have a Spanish and Irish background. Martin himself was actually born Ramon Antonio Gerardo Estévez, and continued to pass Spanish names on to his children (hence, Emilio and Carlos, who is now known as “Charlie”). But following in the direction of his father, once Carlos made the decision to get involved in acting, he decided to change his name to something more…hmmm…how do I say?…white. His father had adopted the last name “Sheen” in honor of Catholic archbishop Fulton J. Sheen.

Adriana M. Barraza /

Bruno Mars – Peter Gene Hernandez

Being that the singer is half Puerto Rican, we can all see where the last name, Hernandez, came from. And while “Bruno Mars” just seems like any ‘ol eccentric stage name by any ‘ol eccentric artist, there is actually a story behind it. In an interview with Rap-Up, he broke it down for inquiring minds, and it has to do with wrestling, and the ladies…:

“Bruno is after Bruno Sammartino, who was this big fat wrestler. I guess I was this chunky little baby, so my dad used to call me that as a nickname. The Mars came up just because I felt like I didn’t have no pizzazz, and a lot of girls say I’m out of this world, so I was like I guess I’m from Mars.”

Tupac Shakur – Lesane Parish Crooks

Yes, we all know that the rapper was known as and named Tupac Shakur as a child, but according to his death certificate, and the story behind all that, on his birth certificate he was allegedly named Lesane Parish Crooks. Pac’s mother, Afeni Shakur, was of course a member of the Black Panther Party, and her affiliation with them allegedly brought her a lot of enemies. Fearing that her son would be a target, the name was supposedly put on his birth certificate to help keep a young Pac’s identity on the low-low. She would later change his name after marrying Mutulu Shakur.

Adriana M. Barraza / WENN

Nia Long – Nitara Long

As short as Nia Long’s name seems like, it’s not as simple and straightforward as people assume! While we know that she calls herself Nia, which is one of the seven days of Kwanzaa, it sure doesn’t come from her first name, Nitara. While Nitara is definitely a pretty name, can we truly imagine her as anything other than Nia at this point?

Iggy Azalea – Amethyst Kelly

The fairly new and popular female rapper is one of the few making waves currently whose stage name is nothing near her government name. Nicki’s real name is Onika, Azealia’s name is…well, Azealia, But Iggy was actually born Amethyst (like the stone) Kelly. She took her stage name from her childhood dog surprisingly, and in an interview with Global Grind, she explained why her dog was the coolest mofo ever:

“It was my dog’s name growing up. That’s weird, right? My dead dog. He was the coolest. He was half pit and half Australian cattle dog. My dad got him when I was a baby. I had him my whole life growing up and he was this crazy dog. He would fight all the dogs in the neighborhood…He would bite people, have fights with other dogs, he got bitten by a snake so he was paralyzed, we took him to the vet, I thought he was going to die. He never died! We had to get him put down when I was 18 because his legs stopped working, but this motherf**ker would not let go. He was the coolest.”


Estelle – Fanta Estelle Swaray

Yes, Fanta. Like the beloved drink, but definitely not named after said drink. The daughter of Senegalese and Sierra Leonean parents, there really isn’t a big story behind how the name came about. But, as we can all see, the singer/rapper and fashionista decided to run with her middle name as her stage name so that people wouldn’t try and throw corny jokes her way. Plus, Estelle is a very pretty name in general, but Fanta is unique and awesome too though. No shade from moi for once!

Source: WENN

Tito Jackson – Toriano Adaryll Jackson

With all the attention constantly on Michael and little sister Janet over like the last 25 to 30 years, how many people really knew that Tito Jackson, lead guitarist and eldest brother in the Jackson 5 and family, was actually born Toriano? I can see why he would go with the cute name Tito instead of “Toriano,” as I’m sure it would be hard to go on one of their many television show appearances, go in a circle and introduce themselves: “I’m Michael.” “I’m Jermaine.” “I’m Marlon.” “I’m Jackie.” “And I’m…Toriano!” Yeah, talk about hellas of awkward.

Plies – Algernod Lanier Washington

It’s been a really long time since I’ve seen Plies do anything on the music scene (not that I was a real fan or anything, though “Shawty” was my joint), but when I happened to look up the many interesting names of celebrities, I couldn’t help but have my eyes bug out at the sight of the name, Algernod. Now, I’m not sure how exactly that’s pronounced, but I don’t think there’s a way to say it that sounds alluring or cool. Ooooh, or maybe if it’s pronounced, “Al-jer-neaux”? No? Okay, I just thought I’d try. Allegedly though, the stage name Plies comes from the name they call successful drug dealers in Fort Myers, Florida.

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  • Run

    Tom Cruise’s name is Tommy Mapother! Vin Diesel is also a Hollywood name.

  • Run

    Tom Cruise’s name is Tommy Mapother! Vin Diesel is also a Hollywood name.

  • Run

    These names are mostly beautiful (“Nitara”, “Lesane”, etc.). I wouldn’t have changed/shortened them, except for 2Pac’s, of course. His real name was the ish, but he needed a name befitting his mother’s religion/social awareness, and his rap-star future.

  • *Dead*CHRI$$$


  • C.A.T.

    Tito is not the eldest Jackson brother, Jackie is.

  • therealnumber1

    Plies whole image is fake apparently…Michelle Williams from Destiny’s Child real name is Tenitra, and the other one Farrah who was in the group for all of two seconds real name was…DESTINY

  • Brian Odom

    Yes, Tito Jackson is Toriano Adaryll, but Jackie Jackson is Sigmund Esco.

  • Viviane

    Fanta is a very common name in Senegal and Mali. And it has nothing to do with the drink. Other common names are Fatoumata, Fatou, Aissatou…

  • I like the mystery of their privacy. While informative, I don’t think this article was necessary.

  • TeenaBean

    I thought the Sheen Family was Ecuadorean, not Spanish?

    • Guest

      they are…. blame bad journalism.. >_>

  • wait….he changed his name TO Plies?

  • Southern Europeans, i.e. Spaniards, are white.


    I’m not a Plies fan either, but has anyone noticed that this guy fell off the map after people started saying he was a college grad AND when he handed out a scholarship at his concert? Next thing you know, A wanna be drug kingpin and a skateboard riding, mountain dew drinking rappers whose lyrics have been reduced to talking about only his s*xual escapades blew up; not to mention all the other rappers that sound like they haven’t read a book since Pre-K.

  • Fanta!!! ROTFL!! Trust me she was named after the drink. Us darkies from the African continent (aka Motherland) love giving our children ridiculous name e.g. Pride, Memory, Godknows. We also love our Fanta, especially the orange one. There’s also Fanta Grape, Fanta Lemon, Fanta Pineapple, Fanta Strawberry. Hilarious.

  • I believe Spanish people are white, so I guess they made their name more “Irish”, or northern european 🙂

  • jamy47

    The Charlie Sheen one is HILARIOUS, omg i used to wonder why his brother was named Estevez and this article explained it LOL

  • britchick91

    0_o wow I don’t blame Shaunie for shortening her name

  • Shenene

    I hate clicking on 10 pages to view your stories.

  • Wendi B

    Algernod???? Wow…

    FYI – Tito isn’t the eldest Jackson brother, Jackie is, and coincidentally in relation to this post, Jackie’s real name is Sigmund.

    • THANK YOU! It’s Sigmund Esco Jackson.

      • PhoenixRizing

        O_O STOP PLAYING!!! WOOOOOW! I NEVER knew THAT! Now WHY did they leave THAT out of the movie? THEY PLAY TOO MUCH! LOL!!!!

  • Jacqxz

    How is Miley Cyrus a wild young adult tho?

  • Fanta is a fairly common West African name. Do your homework 🙂

  • lololol

    Kelly fron destiny’s child is rally named kelendria…and Michelle’s name is actually her middle name too. there was only room for one fabulous ne in destiny’s child…..

    • WhoMe

      Michelle was born Tenitra.

  • Bee

    I am 46 years old and have NEVER heard the term “government names.” I believe you’re talking about their “legal names.”

    • Bobby

      WOW, yes the slang term 4 legal name is government name!

    • Sagittarius81

      My grandma is 88 years old and she knows what the term government names is, she the one that told me the meaning when I was 14.

    • Kaori

      Hahahah. I loathe the term ‘government name’, because the government doesn’t assign people their names.

      • Zan

        True, but that is the name that people are known by TO the government…hence the term “government name”.

      • Zan

        True, but that is the name that people are known by TO the government…hence the term “government name”.

    • we love labels don’t we?

  • Delilah

    sheen isn’t a white name, it’s irish name or english name. hispanic isnot a race and clearly not all white people speak english; spaniards are clearly white and similary to greek and italian people.

    • Bobby

      Not all “spaniards” Hispanics are white!!

      • YouNeedAnEditor

        A Spaniard is a person from Spain, and while there are People of Color who are Spaniards, they are predominantly European Whites. Not all Hispanics are Spaniards.

    • yall slow

      Um english or irish is white. how dumb do you sound you must be a black american

      • blue

        Hey look german is white so is italian, greek. these are white folk from different countries. black Americans think whites are just in America. but just were the hell do you think they come from. different parts of europe. yes and those white folks born and raised in south Africa are descendants of europe. yep Australians ( not the aborigines) too.
        they all come from europe which means they are white. english is most definitely white and all of these europeans hate your African roots

        • Ladybug94

          Not all greeks are white as far as skin goes. I went to school with two greeks who everyone always assumed were black.

          • Ladybug94

            Oh and all Europeans do not hat blacks, Africans or what have you. I went to school overseas and received nothing but love.

        • Australia is not European. Two different continents.

    • Iamagirlygirl

      Most Greek people don’t identify as white. As a matter of fact, ancient Greeks referred to northern europeans as barbarians.

  • MLS2698

    Fanta was Kunta Kinte’s first girlfriend. Didn’t y’all watch ” Roots ” on BET? It’s not a soda, but an African name.

    • Bobby

      Fanta is a brand of soda O=O!

    • observer

      Fanta means “fantasy” in German which is where the soda of the same name got its name from.

    • Africanite03

      Fanta is a very popular name in Senegal, especially among the Peul ethnic group.

    • Djuobah

      Actually Fanta is short for Fatimata (derivative of Fatima) in West Africa. And it is more common amongst Malinke not really Fulas background (at least in Guinea, Mali, Gambia and Sierra Leone).

    • Djuobah

      Actually Fanta is short for Fatimata (derivative of Fatima) in West Africa. And it is more common amongst Malinke not really Fulas background (at least in Guinea, Mali, Gambia and Sierra Leone).

    • Meelah

      It’s an actual name in Africa but yes it is also the name of a Soda.

      • PKH

        Fanta means the second coming in the Ethiopian Amharic language. Its a prpular name for women.

    • NikkitaMichelle

      It’s definitely an African name. My best friend’s name is Fanta and it means beautiful day.

    • NikkitaMichelle

      It’s definitely an African name. My best friend’s name is Fanta and it means beautiful day.

  • Kaori

    Let me tell you how I have been figuratively dying to know what Tupac’s real name was. I wonder if that was, in fact, his name.

    • Erica

      yeah i was tripping off of that one. with all the documentaries and interviews i’ve seen, i thought i would have known that by now.

  • Shay

    It’s actually Algernon lol. His mom got it from this bomb story called “Flowers for Algernon”

    • chanela

      ARE YOU SERIOUS?!?!?! i definitely thought of that story! SMH

      his mom named him right, her son sure does look “special”

  • its just me

    algernod???? I just can’t!!

    • Tamz

      And doesn’t Plies also have a PhD.? O_O!

      • Miss_Understood

        lol he does NOT have a PhD…he went to college but dropped out. That’s one of those Urban Legends lol

  • Iggy’s name is Amethyst Amelia Kelly…that’s my GIRL!!!

    • oh ok…

      Love her name!

    • Miss_Understood

      okay so maybe you can help me with this one…how does a girl from Australia, who stated she grew up in the “country” rap with a Southern American accent?? I want to be open to new female artists but I can’t get past this part! lol

      • T. W.

        To answer your question, the Southern accent is a British accent. If you have ever heard a Scottish person talk you would hear it. Not all Scots have a brogue.

        Georgia was a prison colony. The American southern accent is considered a low class British accent. Some of you are familiar with the British Cockney accent. That is considered low class.

        Yes I am from the South and still live here. T. W.

        • Miss_Understood

          Okay, my father’s whole side of the family is from the South, I spent many summers on an actual farm as a kid and my dad still lives in Conyers but I have NEVER heard anyone from Georgia sound like they were from Australia, as a kid we had a foreign exchange student from Australia and definitely didn’t sound like he was from Atlanta in any way…
          I guess I was being a bit coy because what I meant is that she comes off as phony because her rap voice, lyrics and persona-down to the a s s injections was manufactured in ATL. As far as I know, she didn’t grow up there so it just seems shady…

          • bri

            she spent 6 years living in florida and then moved to Atl and I don’t know about you but im from the east coast and when I go down south for the summer and come back home people say I have an accent and that’s just from a couple of months so imagine years living in the south you would definetly pick up an accent.

      • Hmmmm

        Better yet….I’m still stuck on her dog being paralyzed from a snake bite then years later they had to put it down because his legs stopped working???? That confuses the heck out of me…..

        • Miss_Understood

          LMAO I know right! She’s probably lying about that dam dog too, let us find out the bish really had a cat!

          • Hmmmm


      • I don’t know all that lol all I said was her name sweetie. Expressing my following of her music. I dunno you have to ask her hunny because I questioned it before I became a fan as well lol

  • Bobby

    WOW Shaunie & Nia have ghetto names…..sorry its true!! The only one I knew about was Charlie Sheen, his brother Emilio still goes by Estevez!

    • IllyPhilly

      was thinking the same thing. Especially about Shaunie’s name. WTF

    • chanela

      how the hell is nitra ghetto!?!

      • Bobby

        Its NI-TARA, Ghetto!!

        • Lily

          Nitara is actually a Hindi name. Makes sense since she is of Trinidadian descent and Trinidad is heavily Indian influenced

      • Miss_Understood

        Is Chanela your real name? This may explain your surprise at Nitara being “ghetto”

        • chanela

          seriously? GO HAVE A DAMN SEAT! no it is not my real name. my real name is stephanie! for your information.

          how dare you! btw would you be saying the name nitara is ghetto if it was an indian woman? cause a lot of middle eastern names sound like the names that people associate with being “ghetto” or “black”. smh

          • Miss_Understood

            Calm down Chanela…

          • i have to agree with you there. the first thing came to my mind when hearing “Nitara” was Mortal Combat, lol! the one lady named “Kitana”. that name being ghetto never came to mind.

        • jamy47