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Why is Emma Stone Now Called Emily: Everything You Need to Understand About the SAG AFTRA Name Rules

by Daria Blare

Names are way more than an arrangement of letters, they become part of our identity. However, in the glamorous and often fake Hollywood, names are instead labels that are shaped a public persona. 

SAG AFTRA, the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, is a labour union responsible for representing and protecting more than 160,000 artists and public figures worldwide. 

Given its impact on the creative industry, many actors registered with them are obligated to comply with their rules and regulations, one of the most prominent and controversial rules regarding their name. 

The SAG AFTRA new member agreement states that there cannot be two people sharing the same name in the industry to avoid confusion and maintain individuality. This leads to many celebrities taking on ‘stage names’ that help separate their personal lives from their work ones, as well as promote privacy while working in the creative industry.

There are multiple celebrities that had to change their names in order to work in the film and TV industry. 

Currently, all eyes are on Emily Jean Stone. Or as you may know her, Emma Stone.

Stone’s career took off after her role as Olive in the 2010 Will Gluck movie Easy A. 

Slowly phasing her decision in after being called Emily during her recentPoor Things press tour, she has officially announced she actually prefers to be called by her real name Emily but had to change it when she joined the SAG AFTRA guild. 

This is because it sounded too similar to an existing actress who joined the union before her. Coincidentally though, Stone did ask to be referred to as ‘Emma’ as she was growing up - named after her favorite Spice Girl, Baby Spice (Emma Bunton).

Unlike Stone and Perry, Meg Ryan voluntarily shortened her real name, Margaret Mary Emily Anne Hyra took on her grandmother’s maiden name ‘Ryan’ when she joined the guild because she thought it sounded more professional. 

Thomas Cruise Mapother IV, the infamous Maverick from many 1986’s Top Gun, took advice from his talent agent and shortened his birth name to Tom Cruise as he began starring in movies. 

When asked how she’d like to be credited for her first role, Winona Ryder’s suggestion came as Mitch Ryder’s album played in the background. Her legal last name is ‘Horowitz’ but she changed it on a whim prior to starring in Beetlejuice (1988), Heathers (1988), and Edward Scissorhand (1990).

It’s not just actors, too. For example, Katy Perry who had to change her name due to being to similar to the star of 2003’s How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, Kate Hudson. Born Katheryn Elizabeth Hudson, Perry released her debut album under the name ‘Katy Hudson’ but altered it later, taking ‘Perry’ from her mother’s maiden name.

Even David Bowie changed his name, originally born David Jones.

Overall, the SAG AFTRA rules are meant to avoid confusion and make sure each person is properly recognised for their work. While a slightly controversial topic since names are such a big part of an individual’s identity, they do help public figures stand out and differentiate themselves from the multitalented creative industry.

Edited by Emily Duff

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