Quantcast
Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

Zoe Saldaña Says She Was Told That Changing Her Name Would Benefit Her Career

The actress decided it was best to keep her name and identity.

Celebrity News

Zoe Saldaña is reflecting on some “poor” advice she received when she first began her career as an actress. The Drumline star recalled how her former manager told her that she should change her name in order to get ahead in Hollywood. Zoe kicked off her film career in 2000 starring in Center Stage, where she portrayed a ballet dancer. That was when her former manager made the suggestion.


"When I did Center Stage, I remember being discouraged by my management at that time to use my name," she toldEntertainment Weekly. "But their intention was never for me to stop being who I was. They celebrated who I was," she clarified.

“But my manager at the time was a former singer and a ballroom performer, and she did change her name as well, when she was a teenager back in the '60s, I believe. And she said it's what everybody does." However, Zoe, who is Dominican and Puerto Rican, decided that it was best to keep her name and identity. "That was her doing the best that she wanted for me, but I still knew that I liked my name," she said.

Based on her past experiences in Hollywood, the mother of three makes an effort to lend herself to younger women who may need advice navigating the industry. “If you ever have questions about your representation, or you want to bounce ideas, or how to handle a contract, how to push your team, how to allow your team to influence you, or if you feel uncomfortable, I’m here,” she said. “I can only share with you based on my experiences, my failures, and my successes in hopes that they will inspire you to make good decisions for yourself.”

While Zoe made the decision not to change her name, there are other celebrities who have. Check out what these celebrities had to say about their name change.

Jamie Foxx 

Jamie Foxx, whose real name is Eric Marlon Bishop explained why he changed his stage name and how it helped his career as a comedian during a 2018 interview on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. “When I got to L.A., it was open mic night so I put my name down Eric Bishop. I go up, have a great set, standing ovation. I went back for the next few weeks [and] they wouldn’t let me back up because the comedians ran the list,” he said.

The Ray star claimed that male comedians considered him their competition and wouldn’t give him an opportunity to go back on the stage. That’s when he began writing down unisex names after noticing that there were only a few women on the list of comedians at comedy shows. After trying a few different names, Jamie Foxx stuck.

Alicia Keys

While it sounds like a normal name, Alicia Keys' real name isn’t Alicia Keys. The singer’s real name is Alicia Augello-Cook and she credited her mom for the name change. “It's a funny story. I got so desperate I went through the dictionary for something that catches my eye. I get to the W's and I pick Wild,” she said. "'Alicia Wild, how does that sound, Ma?' She said, 'It sounds like you're a stripper.' But I liked Keys. It's like the piano keys. And it can open so many doors," she toldNewsweek of changing her last name.

John Legend

John Legend was actually born John Roger Stephens. The singer revealed that John Legend is actually a childhood nickname that he decided to use as his stage name. "It grew to the point where more people in my circle would know me by that name than by my real name," he said in an interview with MTV News.

Let’s make things inbox official! Sign up for the xoNecole newsletter for daily love, wellness, career, and exclusive content delivered straight to your inbox.

Featured image by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

Queen Latifah is saying no to unhealthy and dangerous lifestyles especially when it comes to her career. Since the beginning, the rapper/actress has always been a body-positive role model thanks to the range of characters she has played over the years that shows that size doesn’t matter. In an interview with PEOPLE, The Equalizer star opened up about taking on roles that don't compromise her health.

Keep reading...Show less
The daily empowerment fix you need.
Make things inbox official.

When I was ten, my Sunday school teacher put on a brief performance in class that included some of the boys standing in front of the classroom while she stood in front of them holding a heart shaped box of chocolate. One by one, she tells each boy to come and bite a piece of candy and then place the remainder back into the box. After the last boy, she gave the box of now mangled chocolate over to the other Sunday school teacher — who happened to be her real husband — who made a comically puzzled face. She told us that the lesson to be gleaned from this was that if you give your heart away to too many people, once you find “the one,” that your heart would be too damaged. The lesson wasn’t explicitly about sex but the implication was clearly present.

That memory came back to me after a flier went viral last week, advertising an abstinence event titled The Close Your Legs Tour with the specific target demo of teen girls came across my Twitter timeline. The event was met with derision online. Writer, artist, and professor Ashon Crawley said: “We have to refuse shame. it is not yours to hold. legs open or not.” Writer and theologian Candice Marie Benbow said on her Twitter: “Any event where 12-17-year-old girls are being told to ‘keep their legs closed’ is a space where purity culture is being reinforced.”

“Purity culture,” as Benbow referenced, is a culture that teaches primarily girls and women that their value is to be found in their ability to stay chaste and “pure”–as in, non-sexual–for both God and their future husbands.

I grew up in an explicitly evangelical house and church, where I was taught virginity was the best gift a girl can hold on to until she got married. I fortunately never wore a purity ring or had a ceremony where I promised my father I wouldn’t have pre-marital sex. I certainly never even thought of having my hymen examined and the certificate handed over to my father on my wedding day as “proof” that I kept my promise. But the culture was always present. A few years after that chocolate-flavored indoctrination, I was introduced to the fabled car anecdote. “Boys don’t like girls who have been test-driven,” as it goes.

And I believed it for a long time. That to be loved and to be desired by men, it was only right for me to deny myself my own basic human desires, in the hopes of one day meeting a man that would fill all of my fantasies — romantically and sexually. Even if it meant denying my queerness, or even if it meant ignoring how being the only Black and fat girl in a predominantly white Christian space often had me watch all the white girls have their first boyfriends while I didn’t. Something they don’t tell you about purity culture – and that it took me years to learn and unlearn myself – is that there are bodies that are deemed inherently sinful and vulgar. That purity is about the desire to see girls and women shrink themselves, make themselves meek for men.

Purity culture isn’t unlike rape culture which tells young girls in so many ways that their worth can only be found through their bodies. Whether it be through promiscuity or chastity, young girls are instructed on what to do with their bodies before they’ve had time to figure themselves out, separate from a patriarchal lens. That their needs are secondary to that of the men and boys in their lives.

It took me a while —after leaving the church and unlearning the toxic ideals around purity culture rooted in anti-Blackness, fatphobia, heteropatriarchy, and queerphobia — to embrace my body, my sexuality, and my queerness as something that was not only not sinful or dirty, but actually in line with the vision God has over my life. Our bodies don't stop being our temples depending on who we do or who we don’t let in, and our worth isn’t dependent on the width of our legs at any given point.

Let’s make things inbox official! Sign up for the xoNecole newsletter for daily love, wellness, career, and exclusive content delivered straight to your inbox.

Featured image by Getty Images

Jamie Foxx and his daughter Corinne Foxx are one of Hollywood’s best father-daughter duos. They’ve teamed up together on several projects including Foxx’s game show Beat Shazam where they both serve as executive producers and often frequent red carpets together. Corinne even followed in her father’s footsteps by taking his professional last name and venturing into acting starring in 47 Meters Down: Uncaged and Live in Front of a Studio Audience: All in the Family and Good Times as Thelma.

Keep reading...Show less

TW: This article may contain mentions of suicide and self-harm.

In early 2022, the world felt like it slowed down a bit as people digested the shocking news of beauty pageant queen Cheslie Kryst, who died by suicide. When you scroll through her Instagram, the photos she had posted only weeks before her death were images of her smiling, looking happy, and being carefree. You can see photos of her working, being in front of the camera, and doing what I imagine was her norm. These pictures and videos, however, began to spark a conversation among Black women who knew too well that feeling like you're carrying the world on your shoulders and forcing yourself to smile through it all to hide the pain.

Keep reading...Show less

Ironically enough—considering the way the word begins—the love-hate relationship that we have with menstruation is comparable to the way in which we navigate the world of men. It’s very much “can’t live with it, can’t live without it” vibes when it comes to women and their cycles. But the older I get, the more I learn to hate that time of the month a little less. A lot of my learning to embrace my period has come with learning the fun, interesting, and “witchy” stuff while discovering more natural, in-tune ways of minimizing the pain in my ass (those cramps know no bounds) amongst other places.

Keep reading...Show less
Exclusive Interviews
Latest Posts