Anyone who keeps up with YouTube dramas knows Shane Dawson. Even people who are not into YouTube drama have probably heard of him as well. He’s an American YouTuber who rose to fame in the early days of YouTube. But did you know that he changed his name? He’s a YouTuber, so why did Shane Dawson change his name?
Shane Dawson changed his name because his agent thought it sounded too “Asian”. He wanted to get into acting, and his agent thought that his name might become an obstacle to him getting callbacks. So he changed it to Shane Dawson.
Changing your name isn’t uncommon in Hollywood and even other entertainment industries. People tend to think some names are more likely to intrigue audiences and help them rise to fame. But Shane also had other reasons as to why he wanted to change his name. Let’s go a little deeper into his story.
Is Dawson Shane’s Real Last Name?
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No, Dawson is not Shane's real last name. His birth name is Shane Lee Yaw. He was born in America and is North American by ethnicity. He has revealed in a podcast that he liked the character of Jack Dawson from Titanic, which is where he took his last name from.
His last name isn’t Asian, and both his parents are American. His mother’s name is Teresa Yaw and his father’s name is Kyle Yaw Jr. So he gets his real surname from his parents.
Shane Dawson Changing His Name
Shane Dawson changed his real name into his "stage name" or "character name" because his real surname, Lee Yaw, can sound a little too ethnic to certain people. He also talked about using a fake name to separate his online persona from his real self.
Shane’s main reason for changing his name was a suggestion from his agent at the time. He wanted to get into acting and was not getting any callbacks. The industry was pretty racist back then, plus people weren’t looking for Asian characters to cast. So they would judge his resume by his last name, and wouldn’t call him back.
Or at least this was what his agent thought. So when he suggested he change his name, he chose Dawson.
When you first start out on YouTube, your name may not be as important. However, as he faced a lot of bullying when he was young due to being overweight when he created his YouTube channel, he wanted to escape from his reality.
He created a persona online called Shane Dawson, who was popular and not fat and was a different person from the kid who was bullied. Creating a separate persona online has also helped him handle all the hate he gets from his controversies and videos. It can be easy to think that people hate Shane Dawson and not the real Shane Lee Yaw.
So the name works as both a shield and an escape from reality. And his rise to popularity and fame and multiple appearances in acting gigs shows that the name did serve him well.
Why Celebrities Change Their Name
Shane Dawson isn’t the only one who has changed their name. A lot of celebrities change their names for a lot of different reasons. Even people on YouTube change their names as well. Here are some of the reasons why your favorite celebrities have changed their names for fame.
A lot of people assume your ethnicity from your name. Especially in the entertainment industry, this can be a problem. For movies, the casting crew might be looking for a certain type of actor to play a role: sometimes they look for Asians, Indians, Americans, etc. Certain people change their names to avoid being stereotyped for their race or even to avoid facing racism.
While YouTube is a different case, there are still YouTubers who have faced racism due to belonging to a certain race. Even YouTubers born and brought up in the States face hate due to their name or how they look. So certain people choose to use a different name or omit the “ethnic” part of their names to avoid this
Even something like a difficult-to-pronounce name can affect your rise to fame. People are willing to do a lot to get famous. And when you are just starting, it can help to have a name that's easy to remember.
So people often change the difficult parts of their names to something easier or alter their real names a little. Some even completely take on a new name.
While having the same name as someone else might be fun to experience in real life, when it comes to celebrities, this can be an issue. Celebrities need to have unique names so they don’t get mixed up with other celebrities with the same name. Anyone would recognize the celebrity simply by their name.
So certain people have to change their names because there’s already someone famous with the name they have. This rule is also stipulated by the unions such as the Screen Actors Guild and Unity.
Your name is also linked to the image you want to project to people. A glamorous name like Marilyn Monroe, for instance, can be much more true to the image of a superstar as opposed to her real name, which was Norma Jeane Mortenson. This is just one example, and movie stars especially change their names to appear more glamorous.
Musicians, as well, can change their names to appear more "edgy" or close to the genre they are promoting. A regular name that sounds dull or unattractive, or "funny" can ruin the image you are trying to create.
While a lot of the reasons have to do with fame, certain people change their names to be more "anonymous". This is especially true for people on the internet. A lot of YouTubers don't reveal their last names or legal names so as not to get traced back to a real person.
There are plenty of stalkers online who can find your address and contact you using your real name. There is even the potential for identity theft. So, YouTubers use fake names or altered names to protect their privacy. Some also don't want their real-life family and friends to search for them on YouTube. So, having a fake name can also help with that.
Now, this reason works both ways. Some celebrities want to make a name for themselves and do not want to be associated with other celebrities for their work. This is especially common among certain celeb children. They change their last names so they do not get any bias due to belonging to a famous family.
On the opposite spectrum, some people want to take advantage of their connection to a famous family. Having connections in the industry can help you get jobs as a beginner. So they change their names or last names to indicate they are related to someone famous.
So now you know why did Shane Dawson change his name, even though he is a YouTuber. What was initially a way to get more callbacks, eventually helped him separate his online persona from himself.
Despite the controversies and drama, it can’t be denied that this name has served him well.