That’s NOT Your Name…Part II! 10 MORE Celebs Whose Government Names Were A Big Surprise

January 8, 2013  |  
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We already threw 10 names your way a few weeks back that we saw surprised some, was a refresher course for others, and got folks talking in general. Fortunately for you, there are a great deal of celebrities with interesting names that they tried to keep on the low-low. After doing some digging and reading, we’ve got 10 more names to share. Some that are very exotic, some that are just completely different from their stage names, and some that just don’t make any kind of sense. No matter what though, they’re interesting indeed. Let’s check them out shall we?

Photo Credit: FayesVision/

Frank Ocean – Christopher “Lonny” Breaux

I know you didn’t think Ocean was a real last name like that (apologies for anyone who truly was born with the surname, Ocean)…? Even singer Billy Ocean was actually born Leslie Charles. I know, I know, we’ve clearly been bamboozled for way too long, folks. Maybe it’s the fact that the name is just as calm, cool and collected as what it actually represents, but the New Orleans-born singer liked it enough to not only make it his stage name, but to also legally change his own name from Christopher “Lonny” Breaux to Christopher Francis Ocean. He once talked about his excitement over giving himself a new name in 2010, while talking with Complex:

“I went on LegalZoom and changed my f**king name…On the change Ocean adds: “It just felt cool. None of us are our names. If you don’t like your name then change your name. I’m only a few steps into the process, so I probably shouldn’t even be talking about this, but by the beginning of summer I’ll be straight. I’ll be boarding planes as Christopher Francis Ocean.”

Macy Gray – Natalie Renee McIntyre

Actually born Natalie McIntyre (even though she is so chill you would have sworn Macy could have been her real name), Macy Gray is a stage name that McIntyre “came up with” after she had an epiphany during a bike accident. She broke it down in an interview with the UK’s Telegraph:

One day, aged six, she fell off her bike and found herself lying beneath a mailbox bearing the name Macy Gray. She took to writing stories about Macy and, years later, made it her stage-name. The original Macy Gray is ‘an old man’, she says, who ‘tried to get some money out of me but it turns out your name is public domain, so that didn’t work out for him’.

Source: Gregory Harris/GQ

D’Angelo – Michael Eugene Carter

If you already knew this information, pat yourself on the back. You’re a winner. However, there are a great deal of people who often find themselves surprised when they learn that D’Angelo is not the first, middle or last name of the acclaimed R&B singer. He was actually born Michael Eugene Carter, the son of a preacher, who played the organ at his father’s church. There isn’t a big story behind why he started calling himself D’Angelo, and it could just be that he liked the way the name flowed. But for some reason, after knowing his stage name for so long, D’Angelo just fits best for me. As for his parents, probably not.


Kareem Abdul- Jabbar – Ferdinand Lewis Alcindor, Jr.

You read that correctly, his name is indeed Ferdinand. The legendary basketball player was actually named after his father, a transit police officer with a side hustle as a jazz musician. But after converting to Islam, he changed things up. One day after helping his team (which at the time was the Milwaukee Bucks) win the NBA Championship in ’71, he changed his name to the famous one that he has now. Kareem Abdul Jabbar, if you were wondering, stands for “noble, powerful servant.”

Tina Fey – Elizabeth Stamatina Fey

Personally one of my favorite comediennes out there (30 Rock leaves me in stitches), Tina Fey, who is of Greek, Scottish and German descent, was actually brought into this world as Elizabeth Stamatina Fey. We’re assuming that Tina came to life out of the “Tina” in her middle name, a name which means, “stop.” Per the usual, to make things easier for her in the industry, she shortened her name and after years of doing improv, writing and working in the background, she wound up blowing up big time. You can actually see her, alongside friend and fellow funny lady Amy Poehler, on TV this Sunday as they host the Golden Globe Awards.

Silkk the Shocker – Vyshonn King Miller

If you were looking for something creative and different to name your future child, there’s no doubt that Vyshonn will definitely help that kid stand out (in a good or bad way, that’s on you to decided for yourself). The rapper known as Silkk the Shocker is of course the brother of rappers Master P and C-Murder, but while they were named Percy and Corey, someone decided to change things up when this fella came out the womb. As for his stage name, he originally named himself Silkk, and used “The Shocker” as an interesting alias. Before he finally blew up (or at least got as big as he did in the ’90s), he finally settled on Silkk the Shocker for good.


Jamie Foxx  – Eric Marlon Bishop

While it’s not a big surprise for nosy folks like moi, I took an office poll and it seemed that a few people were not in the “know” when it came to Jamie Foxx’s real name. Born Eric Marlon Bishop in Terrell, Texas, Foxx decided to change things up in order to get work, like most people. Not only is his name an ode to legendary comedian Red Foxx of Sanford and Son and stand-up fame, but he also went for a unisex name that would make for less bias coming his way. Foxx felt that female comics were often given the opportunity to perform for crowds early in the evening, so he was hoping he could fool club owners by naming himself Jamie. 

Nikki Nelson/WENN

MC Hammer – Stanley Kirk Burrell

Born Stanley Burrell (I don’t know why, but that name always reminds me of the grumpy dude from The Office), the famous rapper probably realized that street credibility would come a lot easier with a cool stage name, and what’s cooler than calling yourself Hammer? There are different stories about how he got the stage name, from time working as a builder and other random fables, but the story with the most weight is that after working as a bat boy for the Oakland A’s, the owner of the team thought he resembled Hank Aaron, so he started calling him “Hammer.” The “MC” part came from the rapper’s time working as the master of ceremonies for different events at clubs.

Sir Ben Kingsley – Krishna Banji

An amazing actor, Sir Ben Kingsley has a very diverse background. And while he looks like a Sir Ben Kingsley nowadays, he was actually born Krishna Pandit Banji (his father was of Indian and Muslim background, though Kingsley was raised in London). But as he became more involved in theater, he worried that his very unique name would hold him back. It’s said that the name was also inspired by his grandfather, a spice trader, who was called “The Clove King.” He was made a commander of the order of the British Empire in 2000, and later knighted, and that’s where the “Sir” part comes from…

C.M. Wiggins/

Future – Nayvadius Cash

Any Future fans out there? If you’re not, you probably didn’t know that Nayvadius is the real name of the Auto-tune loving ATL rapper (who is KIND of cute!). Once a member of the beloved Dungeon Family crew (he’s still listed as one), which includes folks like Cee Lo and the rest of Goodie Mob, Outkast, Killer Mike and more, those who worked with him in that collective liked to call him “The Future.” A Haitian-American artist, maybe Nayvadius could have some sort of cultural meaning that I don’t know about, but if it’s not…I wouldn’t be surprised.

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