Your Equity name is crucial for the distribution of royalties and for casting clarity. It's also your brand.
When considering whether to keep your current name, or change it for something new, it is important to bear the following in mind:
1. Decide on one professional name you can use across the board, i.e. for Equity, Spotlight, any other organisations/unions and on all professional documentation (such as CV, email address and website.
2. Check with both Equity and Spotlight to see if they already have members with your name. Neither Equity nor Spotlight is able to hold or reserve names for future use, or for artists whose subscriptions expire. If your membership subscription runs out then a current or new subscriber may successfully apply to use same name in the meantime.
3. Check spellings and abbreviations. You should always double-check different spellings and abbreviations of a name, since neither Equity nor Spotlight will accept similar names, even if they are not identical. For example, we would not allow Sophie Smith if there is already a Sophia Smith, or Peter Jones if there is already a Pete Jones.
The following are also not sufficient to distinguish you from other artists:
Adding initials e.g. Ewan McGregor & Ewan K McGregor
Adding middle names e.g. Rachel Weisz & Rachel Jane Weisz
Double barrelling first names e.g. Keira Knightley & Keira-Jane Knightley
Same names with different spellings e.g. Judi Dench & Judy Dench.
5. Check the industry as a whole. If your name can be easily confused with someone else who is working or has worked in the industry, we also recommend that you change it, even if they are not working the same professional field.
For example, there is no point starting to work as an actor Sam Mendes, because you will always be confused with the other Sam Mendes.
Applicants should also think in terms of a global market and avoid duplicating names with overseas performers who may not necessarily be members of Equity or Spotlight, such as Rachel McAdams or Terrence Howard.
You should also ensure that you do not use the name of artists who are deceased. Choosing Laurence Olivier for example would not only cause confusion, but would also undermine your credibility.