Acting : Stage Names by Iselynne Tangen

Iselynne Tangen

Stage Names

Hello Everyone! Today I was talking a bit with an agent about strategies that could get me more auditions. On of those was changing my last name. This is something I have been thinking about doing for a while, because I am worried that my Scandinavian last name will give the impression that I have a thick accent and 'disqualified' for any english role. However, the agent said that I should use a last name starting with an A or B, because casting directors 'tend to simply pick actors from the top of the name list'. I have never heard about this before. If so, then how do people named White or Smith get auditions? I'll admit that I feel a certain connection to my name (it is my identity after all) so I would have like a stage name that starts with a T. I will concider changing it to an A or B name if what the agent said is actually true. Do any of you have any experience with casting or know how casting directors usually work? What are your thoughts? -Iselynne

Liz Chuday

What's wrong with Tangen? It has a nice look and sound. I've not heard of this practice but I'm pretty sure the jury system uses this because I get called all the time and lots of people with last names in the "S" and "T" categories don't seem to get called at all....there is discrimination everywhere LOL!

Iselynne Tangen

Nothing is wrong with Tangen at all. Like I said, I'm just worried that it suggests that I have a Scandinavian accent in my English, which I don't. That could lead to casting agents not calling me in for auditions for English speaking characters. Like you say: Discrimination everywhere, haha.

Liz Chuday

I guess I am not up on Scandinavian surnames. I am a pedigreed mongrel, myself.

Iselynne Tangen

Hello Alle. Thank you for your response. I am only thinking about changing my stage name, not legally. I'm sorry to hear about your turbulent relationship with your own name. I hope it has all worked out for you and your children. It is also true that I should take myself and my own feelings about the names into concideration. It's easy to get carried away with the promise of more potential jobs. I know that I will take good care to look for a name that I will like. Even if it is a stage name, it is going to represent ME after all, and not and agency I might not even spend the rest of my career with.

Tomasz Mieczkowski

I agree with Liz. Tangen sounds fine to me. Now, my last name would surely be undesired by one and all. I do appreciate the hint about the A and B stage names. From the psychology stand point it makes total sense.

Shea Christian Reinke

I have heard the same in regards to business names. Getting you name higher in the 'yellow pages' or what not.

Lina Jones

So glad search engines aren't alphabetized. I think is success is destined for you, it will strike no matter what your name is the people have to love you! Good luck whith that.

Gina Priano-Keyser

Tangen does not sound "ethnic" to me at all. Hey, look at Melina Kanakaredes! She's a total success and her name is very Greek. This worked to her advantage to start off her career. She played a Greek girl on a soap opera. Here's her IMDB link.

Paul Todd

If Casting Directors are bringing people in based on the first letter of their last name - something is seriously wrong with the industry. My opinion is this: your name is fine. If your agent is having trouble getting you out, you may need to work more on getting yourself out there to score those first credits that the agent can then pitch you with. If you already have a body of known work behind you and your agent isn't able to pitch you and get you out, then perhaps it's time for a new agent? There are so many reasons why we may not get the auditions we want, but I personally don't feel like your name would be one of them.

Lisa Lelas

Lisa Lelas This is ludicrous! I was a NY casting director for many years and never hired talent because of their NAME! Your name does not sound ethnic at all and even if it it did, would have no bearing on your acting ability. Keep your name and use your talent and persistent marketing skills to get work! Wishing you much success! just now Like

Richard Gustason

Frankly that one is up to you. I have a very VERY Swedish last name and was thinking about that same thing. But then it hit me there are NO Gustason's in Hollywood so yeah I'm gonna stick with my name. Whatever you choose I wish you nothing but the best.

Andrew D Ford

There is no name trick to getting ahead, changing your identity/name, IMDb "Likes"/Rank won't change YOU..... it's a myth. If you want to get ahead use Common-sense; Get your face known to the industry with workshops, studios, marketing whatever. then you will be known.

Susan K Chambers

That's the only advice your agent gave you? Agh! Get another one. Sorry but I like your last name. It's easy to remember and different. Don't change. Getting known like this other comment said with marketing, getting in front of casting directors in class reads, a manager can help, low budget films or student films ( those students go on to sometimes be great directors. Ya never know)

Steve Warren

I'm glad you're giving this serious consideration early in your career, Iselynne. It's hard enough to make one name for yourself in this business, let alone two or three.

Stephen Ossias

I'm doomed!! First and last names are toward the end of the alphabet. So many letters 'S' that my mother should have thought to change both for me as I had a lisp until I was about 4 yrs. old. But somehow the lisp was the challenge, not the name, and I conquered both! Now I wouldn't change my name(s) for anyone. Agents are easier to change. Should I select an agent at the top of the alphabet and hope they're up to the task?! I love your name, Iselynne Tangen. I love saying your name. Now I can't get it out of my mind! If only I were an agent...I could make you famous! :)

Tomasz Mieczkowski

Haha - I love your attitude Stephen. I still think it's a nice tip if somebody wants to change their name. As a web developer I had encountered billion tips on what to do to ensure you are on the top in Google. If only internet was alphabetical I would drop all of my domain names today. :)


This is too funny! I haven't heard about the alphabetical thing, in that case, I would be at the TOP and truth be told...I don't think it's working haha. But to get back to your name, which I think is pretty cool, I was considering changing my last name to my mother's maiden name, it's Hungarian and I just wanted to reflect more of my heritage because I'm proud of it. I didn't think people would take into consideration about having an "accent" but, for the most part, lot's of people in this industry do..Heidi Klum, Arnold Schwarzenegger and let's not forget, Sofia Vergara. I'm probably forgetting a lot more. But I'm no agent, so I'm just speaking on my own perspective as an actor and popcorn munching viewer. Change it if you want to, but only if YOU want to... :) I think being unique set's you apart quite frankly. Good luck!!

Mary Elizabeth Bell

Can I get some feedback on this?

Richard Gustason

It's nicely done Mary Elizabeth. Are you looking at trying to secure a television deal with this series?

Mary Elizabeth Bell

Well not me personally, but I know they are in talks right now.

Mary Elizabeth Bell

So in answer to your question, yes they are looking to secure a deal.

Richard Gustason

Well I wish this series great success. :-D

Mary Elizabeth Bell

Thank you!!

Shea Christian Reinke

I may be wrong, but I thought the most successful stage names were the 'prince' and 'cher' names. Havnt heard of the alphabet problem ( seems insulting ), but the reason to change your name I thought was because a name is difficult to pronounce.

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