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‘People Were Like Did You Make That Up?’: Tyra Banks Reveals Why She Changed Her Stage Name After Her Acting Debut ‘The Fresh Prince of Bel Air’

Tyra Banks recently disclosed during her guest appearance on Sherri Shepherd’s daytime television show “Sherri” why she decided to change her stage name.

Banks, who formerly went by her first name only in the 1990s while modeling, had a change of heart when she made her acting debut on “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” in 1993. In the sitcom, Banks played Jackie Ames, an ex-girlfriend of Will Smith’s character.

Tyra Banks reveals that she changed her stage name after her acting debut on “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air.” (Photo: “Sherri”/YouTube)

In the interview, which took place last month, Banks shared that she wanted the change by adding her last name to her stage name because it would have looked better visually on screen.

The 48-year-old said, “Do you know, OK, when I was a model Jacob in Paris like a new model, 17, 18, 19, 20 I was just Tyra there. There was no Banks. And then I got my first acting job on ‘The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.’”

She added, “The first couple of episodes when they flashed my name to say, you know, playing Jackie Ames, Tyra. It was T-y-r-a really big on the screen and something felt weird to me that I was acting and didn’t have a last name. … And so I added my last name back.”

Further in the conversation, Banks revealed that following the switch, many people thought she made up her last name. She said, “People were like did you make that up? Where did Banks come from because you were using that I’m like ‘no that was my name.’ So I did do the Cher, Madonna thing for a second.”

Banks wrapped up her statement by contemplating whether she should change her stage name to Tyra.

Banks isn’t the only celebrity to change her stage name. Actress Keke Palmer, whose real name is Lauren Palmer, revealed during a July 2022 interview with Glamour magazine that she got her name after her manager overheard Palmer’s mother call her by her nickname.

She told the publication, “The only people that called me Keke were people in my family. Then one day, my manager at that time heard my mom call me Keke because I wasn’t listening. He said, ‘That should be your stage name.’ So [Keke] went from being just something that my family called me, to being something that the whole world called me.”

Despite being publicly known as Keke, Palmer prefers that people address her as Lauren.

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