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7 celebrities on why they changed their name after getting married

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Hannah-Rose Yee
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From Priyanka Chopra Jonas to Jada Pinkett Smith, these famous women (and one famous man) share the reasons why they decided to take their partner’s name 

Deciding whether or not to change your name when you get married is one of the many decisions involved in a wedding.

But unlike choosing the dress or tasting cakes, it’s one that can prove incredibly controversial. 

When Amal Alamuddin changed her surname to Clooney after her 2014 wedding to George, social media erupted with censure. “I’m actually disappointed,” someone commented on Mumsnet. “Her choice blah blah blah but honestly. Successful women who change their names professionally always strike me as either stupid or coerced.” 

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Clooney has never commented on changing her name, and nor should she. But there have been several famous women who decided to change their surnames after marriage who have spoken out about their decision, including Priyanka Chopra Jonas and Jada Pinkett Smith. This is what they have to say.

Priyanka Chopra Jonas

Priyanka Chopra Jonas and husband Nick were married in November last year in India, and since returning to their home in the US the actress has taken her husband’s surname.

“Every time someone says that, my face goes a little like, ‘Oh that happened,’” Chopra Jonas said on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. “It’s a big deal! I didn’t realise it was that much of a big deal until I did it. I always wanted to add his last name to mine because I feel like we’re becoming family. I’m a little traditional and old-school like that.”

But, she added: “I don’t take away my identity. He gets added to who I am.” 

Jada Pinkett Smith

Jada Pinkett Smith and Will Smith

It’s been 21 years since Jada Pinkett Smith and Will Smith were married, and 21 years since Jada Pinkett added the Smith to her surname. She decided to do so as soon as the ink was dry on their marriage certificate, but in a Facebook post Pinkett Smith revealed that she has always questioned the decision.

“I have always believed that an empowered woman is one that can stand on her own two feet and has the strength to trust her personal code of womanhood and not necessarily the code that a collective creates as the standard to which an independent woman must adhere to,” she wrote, “to actually be identified as… independent.” 

Salma Hayek Pinault

For Salma Hayek Pinault, changing her name only came about when her daughter started asking her to. “It was Valentina’s request,” the actress told InStyle. “I said to myself, ‘This is who I am now. I’m starting a whole new life. Why shouldn’t I share it with the people who have been supporting me my whole career, who have been with me since the beginning? I should let them in on the fact that I’m a different person, and a better person.’” 

Jessica Biel 

Jessica Biel and Justin Timberlake

When the actress married Justin Timberlake in 2012, she felt that she had “won the jackpot”.

She wasn’t talking necessarily about her groom, but about the fact that she was going to take her husband’s name privately and continue to work professionally using her maiden name. “I’m changing my name,” Biel told People. “My professional name will still be the same, but for life, yes, I think it sounds great. I think I really won the jackpot of names!” 

Jessica Simpson

In all the official personal records, Jessica Simpson is actually listed as Jessica Johnson, having taken the surname of her husband Eric in 2014.

But the singer admits that she still goes by Simpson when she wants to, including when it comes to making a dinner reservation. “It depends on what restaurant it is,” Simpson has said. “If it’s a hard restaurant to get into, I will definitely say Simpson. It helps a little bit.” 

Portia de Rossi

Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi 

Actress Portia de Rossi and Ellen DeGeneres have been married for more than ten years. During that time, de Rossi legally changed her name to DeGeneres as a way of honouring her wife.

“I love her and I am very proud to be her wife,” de Rossi has said. “I made up my name because I thought it was important to be independent of my family and… be an individual… As I have gotten older, I’ve realised the importance of belonging, and I really wanted to be a part of Ellen’s family… By taking her name [it] makes me feel like I have a family.” 

Portia Degeneres is her new legal name, while Portia de Rossi will continue to be her stage name. “I honestly changed it thinking, ‘Oh that’s nice, I’ll have a Social Security card and passport with DeGeneres on it.’ But it was really important for me to take her last name.” 

Marco Perego

Zoe and Marco Saldana

You might not know the name Marco Perego, but what if we told you the name he took after his wedding: Marco Saldana.

The Italian artist took his wife Zoe Saldana’s last name after they married in June 2013 out of a desire for the two of them to be equal partners in their relationship. “I tried to talk him out of it,” Saldana told Us Weekly. “I told him, ‘If you use my name, you’re going to be emasculated by your community of artists, by your Latin community of men, by the world.’ Marco looks up at me and says, ‘Ah Zoe, I don’t give a s**t.’” 

Images: Getty

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Hannah-Rose Yee

Hannah-Rose Yee is a writer, podcaster and recent Australian transplant in London. You can find her on the internet talking about pop culture, food and travel.

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