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Should You Have a Stage Name?

By Stephanie Ciccarelli

September 8, 2010

Comments (15)

Man wearing a Venetian maskWhat is a stage name?

Why do people use stage names?

How does someone decide whether or not they might want or need a stage name?

Recently a member of our service asked me about stage names and wanted to know more about why people might take one on and what a stage name could do for your career.

Find out the answer to these questions and more in today's VOX Daily.

What is a Stage Name?

A stage name is an assumed name that someone might take to brand themselves. This happens in a variety of professions, most notably in writing. Many authors assume what is called a Pen Name. An actor will take a Stage Name.

Why Some People Use Stage Names

4 reasons why a voice talent might do this include:

๏ Branding
๏ Differentiation
๏ Simplification and Anglicization
๏ Separation of Business from Personal

Branding

When you were born, your parents or someone close to you named you. This being the case, you had no choice in what your given name would be nor your family name. An actor who wants to brand themselves with a different persona may wish to take a stage name on.

Differentiation

Sometimes people will take on a stage name because their own name is too common and they want to stand out. For instance, let's say your name was John Smith. Imagine how difficult it would be to differentiate yourself from all of the other John Smiths out there let alone try to get top search engine rankings for your brand?

Simplification or Anglicization

Others who have very long names or names that are hard to pronounce may anglicize their name and use the anglicized name as their stage name. Elements of a name could be used and simply cut the name short or spell it differently so that it is easier for those who might hire to say.

Separate Business from Personal

Other reasons an individual might do this may include:

๏ Developing an Additional Brand
๏ Protection
๏ Separation of Business and Personal

If you already have an established brand name on air or in public life but wish to pursue voice acting without complicating or jeopardizing your primary brand, you might consider choosing a stage name to work under for your voice acting business.

Some people choose to adopt a stage name for protection. Others still do so in effort to separation of business and personal.

Some people find it easy to separate their work from their personal lives while others connect the two and couldn't imagine living any other way. If someone keeps business and personal separate, meaning that they may be doing work that they don't necessarily agree with or believe in personally, they may wish to reconsider to remain true to themselves. A stage name won't change the fact that something was read and or passively endorsed that the person didn't agree with or believe in. The same suggestion could be offered to those without stage names who opt to separate business from personal.

What Are Your Thoughts on Stage Names?

Looking forward to hearing from you!

Best wishes,

Stephanie

©iStockphoto.com/Kurt Paris

Related Topics: actors, career, names, pen name, stage name


Comments


    For years I used the stage name "Rick Party," and it signified my air persona in my 20+ year radio career across the U.S. After leaving the radio days, I no longer had to "fake the funk," and the "Party" was over.

    In 2008, I had an awakening and re-discovered myself, and thought that there is nothing sweeter than using my real, unique, name... Zurek.

    Posted by:
    • Zurek
    • September 9, 2010 9:21 AM

      I've considered this, actually used one for a time while "on air". First of all, my name is very sibilant. The Commonwealth of Virginia won't put my name on a personalized auto license plate because of spelling. Over the years, I've heard so many different pronunciations because people don't read it correctly or are perhaps just afraid they'll screw it up. In previous careers people found it easier if they just called me Mr. E.

      Posted by:
      • Rob Elsass
      • September 9, 2010 9:47 AM

        I've been wrestling with this lately. In the age of Google, it is easy to get lost among the other Dan Roberts who are involved in one type of media or another: musicians, newspaper columnists...

        But how do you explain to your current clients that you are no longer Brand X, but rather Brand Y? And what about the potential clients who are aware of you, but haven't had the opportunity to use you yet?

        If you haven't got a website, marketing materials, demo, etc. yet, then now is the time to consider a name change. Make sure that alias isn't common either. Something like Boo Radley might work well.

        -Dan (tfn)

        Posted by:

          Hi Stephanie,

          Sometimes you have to have a stage name. When I joined Actors Equity years ago there were already actors who had variations of my name. My first name is William but a William Jenkins was already in the union. So was a Bill. But there wasn't a W.L. Jenkins, so I decided to use my first two initials. This is my performer's name in SAG and AFTRA as well.

          -- W.L. Jenkins

          Posted by:
          • W.L. Jenkins
          • September 9, 2010 9:58 PM

            For me, the most important reason to have a stage name is privacy...separating personal and professional.

            I would never work in the entertainment/voice acting industry without using a stage name; too dangerous!

            It is extremely common for Deejays to drop their last name and use their first name and middle name as their "stage name."

            And, this presentation didn't address the "legalities" and "practicalities" of taking a "stage name."

            For instance, if you took a stage name like "Fabian Fabulous" and a client pays you with a check made out that way, how are you going to cash it or deposit it? Fabian Fabulous can't open a bank account unless he files what is commonly called a "DBA" (Doing Business As...). But, its actual title is: Fictitious Name Statement. It's a relatively simple and cheap way to "establish a legal persona" so you can conduct business and banking as Fabian Fabulous. Most places (in the U.S.) it will cost under $100 to complete the process.

            Jay Lloyd
            Benicia, CA

            Posted by:
            • Jay Lloyd
            • September 9, 2010 10:00 PM

              I was just discussing this with my wife a couple days ago. A very good reason for using a stage name might be that the URL of your real name is already taken!

              It never occurred to me when I first became a "public" person to see if SteveWebb.com was available. Seems there are lots of folks running around with my moniker, and yep, one of them has had the URL for some time. Frustrating thing is, he's not even using it!

              With several years of establishing my "brand", it's too late now to make a switch, but word to the wise for those just starting out...see if your name as a URL is available! If not, you just might consider using a stage name.

              All the best,
              Steve Webb
              "The Guy With The Friendly Voice"

              Posted by:

                Hi- I've been acting in school since grade 10 and graduated this year. I'm wondering what the requirements are in Acting for name changes? Do you have to have a stage name? When is the best time to choose one? Which of these names sounds better:
                Audrey Summers
                Audrey Griffin
                Breanna Rivers
                Brooklynn Waters
                Breanna Dante
                Keanna Amberley
                Breanna Ryder
                Breanna Hunter

                I am Scottish and don't want to lose that heritage. Also I heard it was best to pick the best of three names - is this true? If so can you help?

                Posted by:
                • Hilary
                • October 4, 2010 1:43 PM

                  Audrey Summers
                  Audrey Griffin
                  Breanna Rivers
                  Brooklynn Waters
                  Breanna Dante
                  Keanna Amberley
                  Breanna Ryder
                  Breanna Hunter

                  The first two make you sound old (Audrey is an old person's name in the UK). Breanna, Keanna and Brooklynn are newly invented and (in the UK at least) you would be despised by many people for that alone. Pick a mainstream Christian name and an exotic surname if you need a unique combination.

                  Posted by:
                  • Macbeth
                  • November 23, 2010 6:54 AM

                    It all depends on the project. Sometimes I use my real name or one of two or three "Stage Names" I employ from time to time.

                    Posted by:

                      I have enough trouble keeping all those voices/characters from seeping through onto each other--so ONE name is enough for me, thanks. I go by 'Herb' simply to separate myself from my young doppelganger 'Herbert II" (my son)...as for my last name--that thing sticks out like a sore thumb. THANK GOD...

                      Posted by:

                        I'm lucky in that my last name is not very common. When I did radio I used my nickname, with my real last name. I think it is unique and simple enough to say that I've continued to use it with my voice over branding.

                        Posted by:

                          My first name is Lorrain, but most people call me Lori. I was thinking of using to second half of my name and going by Rain for voice work instead of Lori.... any thoughts?

                          Posted by:
                          • Lorrain Y
                          • March 30, 2011 4:52 PM

                            I had changed my born name, never liked my last name and decided when I graduated as a designer that would be a good time to change my last name. Do actors, etc., change their name legally and only use their stage name for everything or do they still use both their born and stage name? I am a little confused.

                            Posted by:
                            • Anna
                            • November 8, 2011 10:18 AM

                              Lorrain, I think that Rain is a lovely-sounding and unusual name. I'd say go for it!

                              I use a stage name to keep my personal life and day job separate from my acting persona. I think some actors do change their name officially, but I prefer to have that separation. I also write under another name.

                              Re: Anna, online work is particularly straightforward to keep a stage name if you're paid through Paypal or Escrow, which are then paid into your (real name) bank account. In everyday life, my bank accounts and taxes are all under my real name and any pay from acting goes into those.

                              Posted by:
                              • Fiona Thraille
                              • January 23, 2012 12:48 PM

                                Hey guys,
                                I'm trying to break into the acting business in the UK and as my full name, Charlotte, is too normal and used a lot, I was wondering which stage name sounded better?
                                -Charlie Skye Frost
                                -Charlie Brooklyn
                                -Chantelle Manchester
                                -Sammy Zephyr
                                -Charlie Spires
                                -Kiara Skye Frost

                                This will really help me decide!!! :D

                                Posted by:
                                • Charlie S
                                • March 11, 2013 4:07 PM

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