Reading

Choosing Names

Use this list of famous people who have changed their names to explore the relationship between names and identity.
Last Updated:

At a Glance

Reading

Language

English — US

Subject

  • Social Studies
  • Democracy & Civic Engagement

The left column includes names you might recognize. The right column shows the birth name of each individual in the left column.

Chosen Name

Birth Name

Jay-Z Shawn Corey Carter
Lady Gaga Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta
Jon Stewart Jonathan Stuart Leibowitz
Mark Twain Samuel Langhorne Clemens
Muhammad Ali Cassius Clay
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Ferdinand Lewis Alcindor, Jr.
Nina Dobrev Nikolina Konstantinova Dobreva
Jamie Foxx Eric Marlon Bishop
Lorde Ella Marija Lani Yelich-O’Connor
Charlie Sheen Carlos Irwin Estévez
Nicki Minaj Onika Tanya Maraj
Bruno Mars Peter Gene Bayot Hernandez
Faith Hill Audrey Perry
Lana Del Rey Elizabeth Grant
Vin Diesel Mark Vincent
Marilyn Monroe Norma Jeane Mortenson
Dr. Seuss Theodor Geisel
Dick Lewis Barnett Dick Lewis Smith
Thomas Grant Jeff Davis

How to Cite This Reading

Facing History and Ourselves, “Choosing Names,” last updated May 2, 2022.

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The resources I’m getting from my colleagues through Facing History have been just invaluable.
— Claudia Bautista, Santa Monica, Calif