Hello Bonnie!

First of all thanks to you and to the actors who submitted their work for the end of the year critiques series! Since I can’t be out there experiencing the industry myself, I’m thankful for the opportunity to learn as much as possible from this column before I jump in.

Seeing all marketing tools reminded me of a question I wanted to ask you. When I was younger I decided that when I was able to start acting, I would take up a stage name. I wanted it to be symbolic for me since I wanted to differentiate the Kahlilah who is pursuing acting from the Kahlilah who isn’t.

My question is: When is the best time to do this? Since it wouldn’t be a legal name change, I don’t want to make things confusing by accidentally starting too soon.

Should I wait for my first booking or immediately put them onto my headshots and resume so that when I start signing up for acting classes, I’m known by industry members by my stage name?

Do you as a casting director ever have trouble identifying actors if they simultaneously went by their legal and stage name? I just wondered because I know name changing is more predominant in the music industry, but it seems like it would be harder for an actor to do the same.

Many thanks to you and I’m looking forward to another year of The Actors Voice!

Peace and blessings,
Kahlilah Cooke

Hi Kahlilah and thanks for your email! I’m so glad that seeing the critiques has been helpful for you! I’ll be bringing in some more critiques soon, featuring Bonnie Gillespie mailing list members. I hope it continues to be helpful for you to check out others’ tools and some suggested tweaks.

As for your question about a stage name, I’d recommend that you start using it as soon as you’re in classes, setting up a resume, starting up your Actors Access account, and printing up headshots. You could go ahead and buy the domain name that matches your stage name now, so you have a place to point people, for your web presence when the time is right.

I wouldn’t worry about confusing folks, because if you start off early, using your stage name, you are beginning the process of associating your actor brand with that name.

Everyone who works in this industry is used to people having different legal names, or booking actors on a job and then having to pay them through their corporations. It’s just a matter of paperwork, for most folks you’ll be dealing with. The far more important issue, for you, will be that you want to get KNOWN as the Kahlilah who you’re hoping to brand as an actor, long-term.

Starting that process early will help you, because one of the worst things you can do for your momentum as a performer is to START building your fanbase under one name and *then* change your name, mid-stream. So, go ahead and make the distinction today. Enroll in your first acting classes as “acting Kahlilah” (of course, they’ll see a different last name on your check or credit card, but that’s okay) and start introducing yourself using the name you’ve chosen for your acting career.

Good for you, thinking of longer-term concerns while you’re at the beginning of your journey! That’s a wonderful habit to build and I’m excited to hear how things go for you as you progress toward your next tier! 🙂

Bonnie Gillespie is living her dreams by helping others figure out how to live theirs. Wanna work with Bon? Start here. Thanks!

Originally published by Actors Access at http://more.showfax.com/columns/avoice/archives/001611.html. Please support the many wonderful resources provided by the Breakdown Services family. This posting is the author’s personal archive.

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  1. Jaap February 1, 2015 at 9:06 am

    My question is what do you think of the name Jaap, is the name difficult to pronounce

    Love to hear from you

  2. Bonnie Gillespie February 1, 2015 at 9:43 am

    Hiya Jaap. I guess that depends on how it’s pronounced! I mean, I see how it’s spelled and I have a guess how to pronounce it, but if I’m wrong, then, yeah, I guess that would indicate it’s a name that might challenge some folks.

    But that’s not a problem, is it? You just correct folks early on in the relationship if it’s important that they learn it correctly and when it’s someone you’ll never see again, you might just let it go if they mispronounce your name.

    It’s all in how you handle it, really. 😀 I’d love to hear how you pronounce Jaap! I’m very curious now! 🙂

  3. Jaap February 3, 2015 at 7:20 am

    Hi Bonnie.
    Thanks for the replay, Jaap is a dutch name and this is how you pronounce it Yaep


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