If you’re going to be a star, you need a name that will make you stand out from all the wannabes and try-hards. You need something that will look good in lights, that people will remember, so why not borrow a moniker from an existing geographical location? Sharing a name with a city, state or country will guarantee that no one forgets it, and ensures that you shine out from the crowd.
Some celebrities are lucky enough to be born with catchy names - Orlando Bloom’s parents might even have had movie stardom in their sights when gifting him with such an original title.
When it comes to celebrities naming their own kids, we don’t expect the normal rules to apply. According to psychologists, stars view parenthood as an opportunity to express their ambitions and quirky personalities. Plus, an exotic baby name - we’re looking at you, Moroccan Cannon - is like the equivalent of a royal title, intended to mark their offspring out from the masses.
Read our list of A-listers who share their names with destinations, and celebrity kids named after cities.
25 25. He Makes A Good Elf: Orlando Bloom
With a name that literally translates from its Latin roots as "famous throughout the land,” Orlando Bloom was always destined for a life in the limelight. The Lord of the Rings and Pirates of the Caribbean star was, remarkably, born with this catchy name, which has no doubt served him well in his career as a Hollywood actor.
His geographical namesake is, of course, Orlando in Florida, home to Disney World and other famous theme parks.
24 24. She's No Ugly Betty: America Ferrera
This American actress shot to fame playing the role of Betty Suarez on the ABC comedy-drama Ugly Betty. She was also cited by Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2007.
In fact, the actress was quoted in Time, regarding how she got her unusual name: “I'm named after my mother. In Latin America, April 14 is Day of the Americas, and my mother was born on April 14, so my grandpa named her America.”
23 23. Show Him The Money: Cuba Gooding Jr.
He famously won an Oscar for Jerry Maguire and the tale behind how he got his name is a love story worthy of the Academy Awards.
He told CNN that his grandfather was a sea merchant who met his first wife in the Caribbean island of Cuba. Sadly, his first wife passed away, but when he married his second wife, who he met in New York, he made a promise to name their first child after the country he loved, if it were to be a boy. Guess what? It was, and Cuba carries on his father’s name.
22 22. Fifty Shades Star: Dakota Johnson
With famous parents, the actors Melanie Griffith and Don Johnson, it’s no surprise that Dakota was blessed with a colourful moniker at birth. The Fifty Shades star, who has also appeared in 21 Jump Street and The Social Network, didn’t stray far from the family business, taking her first acting gig in 1999, in her film debut alongside her mother.
The Dakotas is a collective term for the US states of North Dakota and South Dakota, which took their name from an indigenous Native American tribe. Translated from the Yankton-Yanktonai and Santee dialects of the Lakota Sioux language, the name translates to mean "friend" or “friendly.” So now you know.
21 21. She Lives The Simple Life: Paris Hilton
She’s a socialite, heiress and great-granddaughter of Conrad Hilton, the founder of Hilton Hotels, so she knows luxury and refinement when she sees it - much like the French capital that shares her name.
Her parents might have named her after the city of love and romance, but the name itself has older roots. It's used by William Shakespeare in his plays Romeo & Juliet and Troilus & Cressida. Paris is also a famous character in Greek mythology, who was the son of King Priam of Troy. It was because of Paris that the whole Trojan War kicked off. Thankfully, Paris Hilton has yet to be the cause of international conflict.
20 17. She's Seen Stranger Things: Winona Ryder
From cult hits like Heathers to blockbusters like Alien Resurrection and, more recently, hit show Stranger Things, Winona Ryder has enjoyed a massively varied career, and picked up two Oscar nominations along the way.
Born Winona Laura Horowitz, she was named after the Minnesota city of the same name, according to The Independent. Her middle name was chosen because of her parents friendship with Laura Huxley, writer Aldous Huxley's wife. Her stage name, Ryder, was inspired by the soul and rock singer Mitch Ryder, who her father was a big fan of.
19 16. It's In Her Genes: Bryce Dallas Howard
Actress Bryce Dallas Howard would also qualify on our Celeb Kids part of this list, seeing as her parents are writer Cheryl Howard Crew and acclaimed director Ron Howard. However, she’s emerged from their shadow to become one of the hottest actors in Hollywood today, thanks to her lead role in the massive Jurassic World franchise.
Howard enjoys two interesting geographical nods in her name, and revealed on a talk show the saucy truth behind her parents’ choice of middle name. According to Film News, her middle name, Dallas, is a nod to the Texan city in which she was conceived.
“Bryce was after Bryce Canyon [in Utah], which is a National Park and is a very red, red, red place," Howard explained, "and both my parents are redheads, so they knew, unless there was something going on, that I would be a redhead."
18 15. He Doesn't Walk The Line: Joaquin Phoenix
This oddball actor has won Academy Award nominations for playing a paranoid young emperor in Gladiator, country superstar Johnny Cash, and an alcoholic veteran in The Master. But his unconventional choice of roles has nothing on the eclectic mix of names he’s assumed over the years.
Born Joaquín Rafael Bottom, the third of five children, his hippy parents changed the family surname to Phoenix in 1978, to symbolise rebirth, according to Esquire. But wanting to match the earthy names of his older siblings, River and Rain, he changed his name to Leaf, the name he used as a child actor until, at age 15, he changed it back to Joaquin. This actor could never be called conventional.
Phoenix, if you don't know, is the capital of the US state of Arizona.
17 20. She Dances With The Stars: Bristol Palin
Bristol Sheehan Marie Palin came onto the public radar when her political mum, Sarah, famously ran for office as the VP ticket on John McCain's 2008 campaign. Later becoming a celebrity in her own right, Bristol reached the finals of Dancing With The Stars season 11.
Bristol’s unusual name was inspired by the Bristol Inn in Alaska, where her mother once worked, as well as the Bristol Bay area of Alaska where her father, Todd, grew up, Sarah Palin once told Esquire.
As well as Bristol Bay, Bristol is also the name of an old English city with a prosperous maritime history.
16 19. Model Turned Actress: Brooklyn Decker
She shot to fame on the cover of a Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue and soon proved her acting talent in the movie Just Go With It and, more recently, the Netflix hit Grace and Frankie.
Her famous other half is tennis pro, Andy Roddick, with whom she has two kids. The pair married in 2009 and she revealed in an interview that she has legally taken on her husband’s surname.
Brooklyn is the name she was born with and, of course, she shares it with the famous New York City borough.
15 18. Renowned Playwright Tennessee Williams
He was a master playwright of the 20th century who won two Pulitzer Prizes, but Tennessee Williams was born plain old Thomas Lanier Williams. As the author of such revered works Cat On A Hot Tin Roof and A Streetcar Named Desire, it’s no surprise to learn that he applied his creative genius to his own personal branding.
Williams attended the University of Missouri-Columbia in the early 1930s, where his fraternity brothers dubbed him Tennessee for his southern drawl, according to the Guardian. When he was 28, Williams was just on the cusp of literary success when he moved to New Orleans and revamped his lifestyle and reinvented himself as Tennessee, which also happens to be where his father was from.
14 14. A Triple Threat: Cheyenne Jackson
He can act, he can sing and he can dance, which is why his many talents have made him hot property on stage and screen.
Jackson’s run of Broadway roles includes the hip-swivelling Chad in All Shook Up and Sonny in the Tony-nominated pop opera Xanadu. On TV, you might recognise him from 30 Rock or from the FX Horror anthology television series, American Horror Story, in which he appears in the fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth seasons.
You might also happen to recognise his name as the capital of the US state of Wyoming, but according to Out Magazine, Cheyenne was named after a long-running TV show.
13 13. There's No Scandal: Kerry Washington
Thanks to her role as Olivia Pope in the ABC drama Scandal, Kerry Washington has bagged two Emmy nominations, a Screen Actors Guild Award and a Golden Globe, which is pretty cool. Not as cool, however, as the fact that she learnt to dance from none other than Jennifer Lopez.
The 39-year-old told Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon that when she was growing up in The Bronx, J-Lo was her dance teacher. 'I'm Kerry from the block,' she joked.
Washington is not only a state in the Pacific Northwest of the United States, but Washington DC is famously also the US capital. Both are named after George Washington.
12 12. Celeb Kids: London Hudson
His father is famous rocker Saul Hudson, who you’ll probably better know as Slash of Guns N’ Roses fame. The 17-year-old is the first son of Slash and his second wife Perla Ferrar, and he’s inherited his dad’s musical talent.
London is the drummer for band Classless Act, and he appeared on stage with his dad for the first time in 2018, when the band was his support act at the Hollywood Palladium.
London is the UK capital, and it’s also the city of Slash’s birth, which may have had something to do with the choice of name.
11 11.Celeb Kids: Moroccan Cannon
His mum is a mega-star diva with a five-octave vocal range, who also happened to be the world’s best-selling recording artist of the 1990s, and his dad is actor and comedian Nick Cannon. Moroccan was always destined to have an unconventional name.
Moroccan is the youngest of twins born in 2011 and his sister is called Monroe. Carey, however, refers to the pair as Roc n’ Roe, and even created a tribute site to the children called DemBabies.com.
According to the Daily Mail, the name was inspired by the Moroccan-inspired decor of the room in which Nick proposed. And yes, we know Morocco is a country, not a city, but hey, roll with us.
10 10. Celeb Kids: Chicago West
First came North, then Saint, so by the time a third child joined the brood of Kim Kardashian and Kanye West, no one expected her to have a common or garden name like Jane or Olivia.
Chicago West came into the world via a surrogate in January 2018, and it appears her name is a nod to rapper West’s hometown. It also appears that Kardashian wasn’t entirely convinced of the choice, according to Cosmopolitan.
Kardashian revealed she shortens her daughter's full name because she doesn't like it, instead using Chi - pronounced Shy: “Chicago just looks really long to me and doesn’t flow, so I call her Chi", Kim explained in a video posted on her website, KimKardashianWest.com. "That’s it, she can decide later if she wants to be called Chicago or Chi.”
9 9. Celeb Kids: Brooklyn Beckham
He’s the eldest child of footballer David Beckham and fashion designer wife Victoria, and he’s becoming a bit of an up-and-coming celebrity in his own right, with a burgeoning photographic career, but do you know what inspired his name?
The rumour for years had been that he was christened Brooklyn because that’s where he was conceived - Brooklyn, New York. However, that’s not true, according to People.
Victoria wrote in her autobiography, Learning to Fly, that she had always liked the name Brooke, and Brooklyn was only a short leap away. “I’d always liked it as a place – it’s very multi-cultural, very grounded. And it was only afterwards that I realized how appropriate it was because it was in New York that I found out I was pregnant.”
8 8. Celeb Kids: Paris Brosnan
When your dad is James Bond, you can pretty much get away with any name you want, but the youngest son of Pierce Brosnan and Keely Shaye Smith has stuck with his birth name, Paris Brosnan.
Paris is a name with some history behind it and it's suitably suave for the offspring of a former 007, who is now an aspiring model in his own right. Paris, who is just 17, inherited some seriously good genes and is taking the modelling world by storm, having walked his first runway show for Dolce & Gabbana in 2018.
7 7. Celeb Kids: Kingston Rossdale
His dad is rocker Gavin Rossdale and his mum is pop sensation Gwen Stefani, and his two siblings are Zuma and Apollo. Kingston, however, is the only member of the clan who shares his name with a Caribbean city - it’s the capital of Jamaica.
According to baby naming website ohbabynames.com, the name was apparently chosen as a homage to Rossdale’s English heritage and Gwen’s love of Jamaican culture. The couple call him King, for short.
Thanks to the influence of this celebrity pair, the name jumped 583 places in the list of popular US baby names in the space of a year.
6 6. Celeb Kids: Tennessee Toth
Tennessee James Toth is the son of Legally Blonde star Reese Witherspoon and her talent agent husband, Jim Toth.
Born in 2012, it’s not known what the inspiration behind the youngster’s name is, though it could be a nod to Witherspoon’s southern heritage - she was raised in Nashville, Tennessee. Alternatively, it could be a tribute to the celebrated playwright of the same name (see entry 18).
One thing is for sure, it’s not all that easy to spell when you’re first learning to write, as his mum shared on Instagram: “When your name is TENNESSEE, it’s a bit tricky to learn how to spell it,” she captioned a photo of her boy.