Equity: What’s in a name?

What do David Jason, David Tennant and David Walliams have in common apart from all being actors called David? They all use professional names that are different from their real ones. There are numerous other well-known examples of performers who have done the same thing, for example Michael Cain, Glenda Jackson and Elton John.


What’s In A Name?

Choosing your stage name is an important part of becoming a professional and needs careful thought. A unique name is your personal “brand” and you never want to be confused with other artists either for work or payments, including royalties and residuals. Many thousands of performers use their real name but others choose a different one for various reasons. When someone joins Equity, it may be the fi rst time they have had to focus on the question of their name as, to avoid confusion, the union does not allow more than one Member or Student Member to have the same name even if they work in different areas of the industry. Equity receives applications on a daily basis so cannot guarantee the availability of names over the phone or email but if you think your name is likely to have been taken, you should think about a different one with which you will be comfortable throughout your career into old age. You should also consider the global market and avoid duplicating names with overseas performers who may not be members of Equity e.g. Rachael McAdams.

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