13 Celebs Who Changed The Name They Were Born With


Sometimes moms aren’t the best when it comes to picking names to match their superstar children’s personalities. Luckily, these celebs were a little more creative just before they hit it big…

1. Elmer doesn’t have the same ring as Chayanne.


Mom named him Elmer, but she also inspired him to change his stage name to his nickname. A nickname that she heard on a 70’s telenovela titled “Chayenne.” Without this name swap, would millions of women have fallen in love with this boricua hunk in tight pants, singing “Provócame?”

2. Demi is so much cuter than Demetria, isn’t it?


We can all agree that Demetria Devonne Lovato doesn’t have the same ring as Demi Lovato. Her given name is a mouthful and we are very happy she chose to go by something more adorable!

3. Alejandro Sanz condensed Alejandro Sánchez.


After the Spanish singer was signed by Warner Music, the marketing team asked him to change his last name from Sánchez to Sanz: shorter and easier to remember.

4. Armando Pérez, re-baptized himself as… Pitbull.


Yes, the rapper of Cuban heritage changed his name because he considers himself to be like the dog breed: “They bite to lock. The dog is too stupid to lose. They’re basically everything that I am. It’s been a constant fight,” said the singer to the Washington Post.

5. Mayte Rodriguez… Not as badass as MRod.


The fierce star of ‘The Fast and the Furious” franchise dropped Mayte as her first name and decided to be known by Michelle, her middle name. This actress of Dominican and Puerto Rican heritage def chose the right name for a badass Latina.

6. Peter Gene Hernández Bruno Mars, because yes.


Musical genius Peter Gene Hernández knew that to achieve stardom, you need a name to match. People from the music industry tried to label him as yet another Latino artist and even persuade him to sing in Spanish. That’s when he picked his childhood nickname Bruno and the last name Mars… to avoid stereotypes.

7. Úrsula Hilaria Celia de la Caridad de la Santísima Trinidad Cruz Alfonso (gasp!) had six names before going to Celia Cruz.


The legendary Cuban singer was born with a real tongue-twister for a name. She picked the shortest name and last name and became known to the world as Celia Cruz. Azúcar!

8. Ricky Martin changed his name out of resentment for his dad Enrique José Martín Morales V.


The Puerto Rican singer changed his give name Enrique José Martín Morales IV to just Ricky Martin. He did it while touring with his ex band Menudo and out of resentment toward his father after he pushed Ricky to choose between him and his mother. They reconciled nearly a decade after the name change, but the deed was already done.

9. Marco Antonio became Marc Anthony to avoid namesakes.


JLo’s ex changed his name to Marc Anthony to avoid being confused with the Mexican singer he was named after: Marco Antonio Muñiz. In fairness to his parents, they didn’t have a clue their son would become so famous.

10. Ramón Luis Ayala Rodríguez went with the nickname that stuck – Daddy Yankee of course.


During his early music years, Ramón Luis Ayala Rodríguez had many nicknames: El Cangri, The Big Boss, The King, El Jefe. But the one that stuck was the same one that gave him his stardom status: Daddy Yankee, which in Puerto Rico refers to someone who is very powerful… indeed.

11. José Antonio Dominguez Banderas dropped some extra baggage to become Antonio Banderas.


Antonio Banderas, born José Antonio Dominguez Banderas, is one of the first hispanic actors to become a worldwide celebrity. And as many of the previous celebrities in this list, the Spanish actor needed a shorter name that people could remember easily… that is how Antonio Banderas was born.

12. Juan + Esteban = Juanes


Juanes created his name by combining both of his names. His real name is Juan Esteban Aristizábal Vásquez, but the Colombian singer decided to just keep the first two letters of his second name and add them to his first one. One thing’s for sure: Latinos love giving long and complicated names to their kids.

13.  Óscar Isaac Hernández Estrada dropped Hernandéz to avoid stereotypes.


Guatemalan American actor Óscar Isaac Hernández Estrada dropped the Hernández last name to avoid being typecast in stereotypical roles. He’s known as just Oscar Isaac… from the new “Star War” movies. Get it, king.

If you could change your name, what would it be? Let us know by sharing this listicle.

When Writing About Other Cultures' Food Gets Real "Yiiiikes!" Real Fast

food and drink

When Writing About Other Cultures’ Food Gets Real “Yiiiikes!” Real Fast

Flickr Creative Commons / Sharla Sava

Food is good. It is so good, you guys. We should all be exploring and tasting and experiencing as much food as we’re able to, because is good.

Food is also personal. It connects to us to culture, to history, to our own roots and those of others. Food is the result of trade and migration, disasters and famine come and gone, wars fought and lost, celebration and mourning, class and custom. Food is never just food and good food writing understands that.


Credit: Source Image via Flickr Creative Commons / Pete Zarria

This is why it’s so disappointing to see food writing forget that food is personal. Take this NYC restaurant review, which opens with a bang:

Eating Chinese food in this city is generally an exercise in extremism. You can get gross and roll around Chinatown or Flushing. You can go big and have yourself an out of body spice experience at Mission Chinese or Han Dynasty. Or you can overload on delivery, which prevents anything productive from happening the day after.

A general rule of thumb that’s always worked for me is remembering that, when writing about a given cuisine, it’s best to avoid proclaiming that the neighborhoods where that cuisine is made, appreciated, and enjoyed are places to “get gross.” Just a lil’ tip!

The review goes on to note that the restaurant is run by “a pair of non-Chinese Chinese food enthusiasts who wanted to share their passion for Chinese flavors with the world” and stresses the restaurant’s approachability and cleanliness. As Noah Cho writes on Medium, it becomes pretty clear pretty fast that this review’s intended audience is not people who are already familiar with Chinese food (like, say, a lot of Chinese people):

Truly, no one before them has ever decided to “share their passions for Chinese flavors with the world” except for, you know, Chinese people, who have been cooking watered down versions of Chinese cuisine precisely so douchebags like yourself feel comfortable. But it isn’t enough! Too bad all that ASIANNESS got in the way of you feeling “clean.” Cool story, bro.

This pervasive trend of writing about culturally-specific food with no active participation from that culture — and, in fact, a sense of disdain for and distance from it — is also on display in a recently re-promoted Bon Appétit article on what to eat in Cuba (timely now given President Obama’s March visit to the island). And, again, it kicks things off with class and grace:

If you’ve always wondered what Cuba was like beyond cigars and vintage cars, start packing: It’s time to witness a country at a moment of pivotal change. Havana is a party, no doubt, but it’s also a confusing place for Cubans and tourists alike. Cubans have a saying, No es fácil: It’s not easy. It applies to everything—food especially—in a place where cab drivers make more than doctors, and where a meal in a home restaurant can easily cost a month’s state salary. It’s a tricky city to break into, but with a little planning, it can change your life.

Credit: Adult Swim / The Dating Buffet

LOL, YIKES. I could go through a line-by-line diatribe on why this paragraph is the written equivalent of strolling, uninvited, into someone else’s home and taking a sh*t in his refrigerator, but you can figure it out for yourself.

So, context matters. Food is tied to culture, and culture doesn’t exist in a void. When food writing discusses food in a way that willfully divorces it from its culture and context, by using coded language about “cleanliness” or extolling exoticness as this nebulous goal in and of itself, it is a means of keeping a giant swath of people out of the conversation, whether deliberately or through a sort of mindless neglect.

NPR’s The Salt recently delved into the topic of appropriation when it comes to food. Who, they wondered, ultimately ends up profiting and being listened to when it comes to evangelizing food from cultures other than one’s own?

 For some nonwhite Americans, the idea of eating ‘ethnic cuisine’ (and there’s a whole other debate about that term) not cooked by someone of that ethnicity can feel like a form of cultural theft. Where does inspiration end? When is riffing off someone’s cuisine an homage, and when does it feel like a form of co-opting? And then there’s the question of money: If you’re financially benefiting from selling the cuisine of others, is that always wrong?

Their prime example is Rick Bayless, a gringo whose career is predicated on his appreciation for and mastery of Mexican food and cooking techniques. The difference, once again, is context (and it’s a context that, based on Bayless’ own interpretation of the critiques against him, he might not fully appreciate).

Food can and does belong to anyone. We are free to try it and make it and love it across different cultures. Cooking techniques and ingredients are passed on from culture to culture; fusion is ultimately inevitable. The idea of appropriation, specifically, comes from the attempt to take ownership of a culture other than one’s own, thereby shutting out people from that culture who made it possible for you to experience and enjoy this food in the first place. The issue is one of giving credit, of heralding local chefs and home cooks whose mastery of cuisine of worthy of attention. Bayless had to learn about Mexican food from someone. Many someones. Where are they? Where are their  books and restaurants? Where are their cooking shows, their line of kitchen equipment on sale now at your local Williams Sonoma? If they were talented and masterful enough to inspire Rick Bayless, why has Bayless not introduced them to us, so that we might learn from them as well? Pass the mic, along with the elotes.

It is vital, then, to give proper credit, to usher new people into a food experience while grounding it firmly in the context and culture in which it was created, and including its inventors in the conversation, rather than leaving them out of it. This holds true whether the conversation happens to take the form of a restaurant review (and subsequent aside about soy sauce fermenting in a “Chinese field”), a guide to food in a country where food rationing exists, or numerous cook books about a country’s “vibrant flavors.”

Put simply: Devotion stripped of context isn’t so much devotion as it is fetishization and appreciation without credit isn’t so much appreciation as it is appropriation.

Credit: Source Image via Flickr Creative Commons / kendrahw

And if you take just one thing away from all this today, please let it be this:

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Christ on a (artisan-crafted, chipotle-kissed) cracker.

READ: Latinos Love Arroz y Frijoles, But Not Every Dish Is The Same

Can people appropriate food? Do y’all trust Rick Bayless to understand the innate appeal of a gansito eaten over the sink at 3 a.m.? Tell us in the comments.

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