How To Pick Your Stage Name

Hey, there!

I had an opportunity to meet with an actor the other day whose real name was really simple. When she joined SAG-AFTRA, she had to add a couple of initials to it to make it unique.

It got me thinking that there are some other extremely important considerations you need to think about besides whether or not anyone already uses that name in SAG-AFTRA.

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Hope this helps!


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Raw YouTube Captioning

Hey there it’s David H Lawrence 17th and here I am violating the rule about wearing white on camera because I feel like it today what I’d like to talk to you about is actually goes back to mm bullet 2004 I think when I done my first union job and I was being allowed to enter what was then just say it wasn’t sag after that and when you do that there’s a rite of passage where you have to choose your sag name now your sag-aftra name and the only requirement is that it’s Unique among all of the people that already have sec games now there’s plenty of David Lawrence is in the business one of them won an Emmy for for makeup in and wardrobe back in the 70s lots of David Lawrence’s in a voiceover in fact that’s why I’m David H Lawrence the 17th because we couldn’t come up with a version of my name that was unique and I was looking at my IMDb page and was like oh 17 what about that in the woman and sag after was like fine anyway I want to give you some tips on how to choose your stage name cuz when you get to that point you could make a mistake and just go with something to you think is cool or hip or whatever and you really have some practical things to think about first of all congratulations on getting in the Union right it’s awesome but I want you to think about four things number one if your name is a homophone of someone who’s famous that already exists in the union like say your name is Thomas and your last name is spelled c r u z e Wright Tom Cruise not a good choice Thomas Cruise not a good choice in fact the union probably won’t let you do it so you want to come up with something that is unique and is doesn’t sound the same as somebody else that’s pretty easy to deal with but the other three are more practical considerations dealing with First and foremost you want to check to see if you’re chosen stage name is unavailable domain so pop over to or your favorite registrar and type in your name right so if your name is John Smith and you’re going to add your middle name Sage on Thomas Smith you know check to see if John Thomas is available if it isn’t I got to I got a suggestion for you don’t go with that name go with the name that is available because having your own domain name is priceless having your own domain name is priceless and it extends from there the other two things that I want to talk to you about our also digital considerations the second one is is that name available as a Gmail address as we record this videos I record this video right now Gmail is genome the bomb it’s it’s really great now you can always get John at John Thomas if that’s you know whatever your version of that is but if you can also get John Thomas Smith at you can avoid some of the identity-theft possibilities that might exist and you also can grab that real estate as your own so the domain name and the Gmail address and then of course obviously you can create an email address with your domain name if you want and then the third of the three digital considerations to round out the group of four is is that Twitter handle available is that Facebook handle available is that LinkedIn handle available Instagram Tumblr Pinterest you know all of the social networks my screen name on all on every social network is DH Lawrence xvii XVI was actually too long for Twitter when I had my my first account so I shortened it up and then every time a new social media Network would come out I would immediately grab DH Lawrence xvii on it so I have work for Pinterest and I have it for Instagram and I have it for another all of them are uniform and if you can do that that helps you say if you want to catch me on social media just go to John Thomas Smith at any social media at John Thomas Smith John Thomas Smith you know it’s uniform and it’s easy to say and I got a Bonus one for you the bonus one is try to avoid if you can forcing a name by misspelling a word slightly misspelling a name going with a goofy version of a name like instead of James James you go with Jaymes that is going to cause you nothing but heartache as you completely have to correct everybody every single time you give them your name and don’t be afraid a long name is my name is pretty long but it looks great in the credits so anyway just some things I wanted to share with you tell me do you have a stage name how’d you arrive at a tell me in the comments below what did you do with it an omage to somebody did you think about the options domain name and accountant and Twitter handle and Facebook and Social Media stuff if you’re about to enter the Union you have I help to stop you from making a huge mistake I hope so, I’m really happy that you are watching these videos and if you’d like to be notified when the next video in this series of 365 comes out we’ll go ahead and click on my head there but there’s no head there then look for a subscribe button somewhere on the page will find what you want to see the latest video I put out go ahead and click on that frame because that one’s the last one that came out so go ahead and do it I’m David H Lawrence 17th I take you so much for watching and I’ll talk to you tomorrow

11 Responses to How To Pick Your Stage Name

  1. Stuart Gauffi January 27, 2019 at 5:33 am #

    The origin of my name is a long story, but I will agree that the day I plugged it into Google and got ZERO results was a happy one indeed. Today, Google reports about 2400 results, and every single one of them points to my work (except the occasional “public records search” ad).

  2. Angus January 27, 2019 at 6:24 am #

    Is there a way to check SAG/AFTRA name availability? The union’s website says because they list of members changes all the time you should list your preferred stage names when you join. But what if you’re trying to select a stage name before that point?

    • David H. Lawrence XVII January 27, 2019 at 1:03 pm #

      For me, it was a phone call to then-SAg for the “check”. I’m sure Google would be helpful in your pre-check. Check out Stuart’s comment here.

  3. Julia Parker January 27, 2019 at 9:28 am #

    First of all, thank you for your daily doses of inspiration and gems of knowledge that you’re sharing. I’m enjoying every morning’s episode.

    Secondly, I wish I had seen this segment before I signed up for all my social media years ago! Thankfully my IMDb name is the first Julia Parker but my website (, FB fan page (Julia Parker – Actress), my Instagram (MsJuliaP), my twitter (MsJuliaParker), my YouTube channel (…as you can see the list goes on and NONE of them are the same.

    You have such great advice! Anything you can share for making my sites more connected, name-wise?

    Thank you for all you do!

    • David H. Lawrence XVII January 27, 2019 at 1:01 pm #

      I wouldn’t change things at this point, especially if you have a big following.

  4. Alison Blanchard January 27, 2019 at 1:27 pm #

    My chosen stage name was Alison Frazier (my real first and middle names), which I was able to get legally upon my divorce. It was available with SAG, and I was delighted to get it upon joining. YAY! Then came the awful moment when I went to join AEA and discovered that there’s already a renowned Broadway actress named “Alison Fraser” (, and I was SOL. I wish SO HARD I had taken this advice first!!!! I was stuck changing my name with SAG after I already had a couple of credits, which sucked, but I figured better early in my career than later. FORTUNATELY I had remarried, and it turned out that my first name + my husband’s last name was available in BOTH (now ALL) unions, and it is a great name!So happy to be able to have ONE legal name for screen and life. BUT I do need to go get all the social media presences, as you suggest, David! I have the .com, but it’s not enough!

  5. Jon Fahrenthold January 27, 2019 at 2:38 pm #

    Really getting a kick out of David’s newsletter messages… it’s selling me on signing up (whenever that is lol) for his classes… having already done the SuchAVoice class a couple of years back, his should be a real treat….

  6. getrich206 January 27, 2019 at 3:22 pm #

    Let me add my thanks for these daily videos, David. I used to think the perfect stage name belonged to Tom Hanks. If asked for an autograph he only needs to write “thanks.” Turns out though that he was actually born Thomas Jeffery Hanks. Maybe his parents were especially grateful.

    And the most famous David H. Lawrence would be . . . ? I’d nominate the brave and brilliant English writer D. H. Lawrence (1885-1930). He’s the guy who wrote, “Life is ours to be spent, not to be saved.”

  7. Jeremy Webster January 27, 2019 at 4:40 pm #

    Oo! Stage name! I haven’t thought about it yet! It’s fun to think about! Thanks for putting something out there that I’d never considered!

  8. Chris Buckner January 28, 2019 at 10:16 am #

    For months I’ve been thinking about trying to pick a name for my eventual VO business so I can get it incorporated for taxes, but not choosing a name with regard to the union. I’ve tried setting up my Twitter/Instagram/FaceBook/LinkedIn to have the same name. So far I’ve been going with chrisbucknervo because it works with character limitations on Twitter/Instagram and basically everywhere else. I own and (no actual page for this one yet), but has been taken for a while now. I’m not sure what would happen if I ever did union VO work. It probably makes little sense to have chrisbucknervo as a union name but maybe I shouldn’t worry about that for now. I’ll post a question about this on the FaceBook page. Thanks for the video David.

  9. Rebecca Yavner February 21, 2019 at 4:52 pm #

    I had wondered what the 17th was all about. Love it. Thank you for the info…

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