Rihanna And Other Celebrities Whose Names Are Famously Mispronounced

Rihanna sitting by a laptop in Ocean's Eight.
(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Recently, Jenna Ortega went viral, and not for her creepy and kooky dance from Wednesday this time, but for being one of the first people to publicly pronounce Rihanna’s name correctly at the 2023 Golden Globes. This would certainly not be the first time we learned that we have wrongfully assumed (or been confused by) how to pronounce our favorite celebrities’ names. Let’s take a look at some of those who most commonly fall victim to this sort of mistake in Hollywood, starting with the right response to the aforementioned pop star’s question, “What my name?”

Rihanna performing at the 2016 MTV Vmas Diamonds

(Image credit: YouTube/Rihanna)

Rihanna (ree-ann-uh)

As Jenna Ortega casually dropped in a Golden Globes clip that blew up on TikTok quickly after, fellow nominee Rihanna (for her song, “Lift Me Up,” from Black Panther: Wakanda Forever), is not pronounced “ree-AH-nuh,” but “ree-ann-uh.” 

Zendaya in Euphoria.

(Image credit: HBO)

Zendaya (zen-day-uh)

Another talented, single-named singer and actor who was nominated (and won) at that year’s Golden Globes for playing Rue on Euphoria is Zendaya, who — in a Snapchat video tweeted by Allure in 2016 — would inform anyone who may have called her “zen-DIE-uh” that it is actually pronounced like it is spelled.

Ariana Grande in Don't Look Up

(Image credit: Netflix)

Ariana Grande (ar-ee-ah-nuh gran-dee)

While this actor and pop star does actually pronounce her name the same as everyone else, Wicked cast member Ariana Grande revealed in an interview with Apple Music that she grew up using the pronunciation her grandfather did: “gran-dee.”

Brendan Fraser in The Whale.

(Image credit: A24)

Brendan Fraser (bren-dan fray-zer)

Finally getting the recognition he deserves lately for his performance in The Whale is Oscar nominee Brendan Fraser, who is also finally being referred to by the correct pronunciation of his last name (“fray-zer,” which he pointed out to Adam Sandler in a one-on-one for Variety) instead of the way you would pronounce Kelsey Grammer’s title role from Frasier.

Charlize Theron in The Old Guard

(Image credit: Netflix)

Charlize Theron (shar-leese there-uhn)

Academy Award winner (for Monster) and sought-after action star Charlize Theron let the world know in a 2016 interview that there are actually two different ways to say her name: the way she goes by (shar-leese there-uhn) or in the original South African dialect, (“throne,” like what a queen sits on).

Gal Gadot in Wonder Woman 1984

(Image credit: Warner Bros. Pictures)

Gal Gadot (gal gah-doht) 

Charlize Theron’s fellow Fast and Furious franchise star (and Wonder Woman in several DC movies) Gal Gadot has also had to inform the public (multiple times) that the “T” in the Israeli actor’s last name is not silent and the full name is pronounced much like it is spelled: “gal gah-doht.”

Hasan Minhaj talking to the camera in his stand-up special The King's Jester.

(Image credit: Netflix)

Hasan Minhaj (hah-sahn meen-hahj)

Former Daily Show correspondent and host of Netflix’s Patriot Act, Hasan Minhaj, had to inform Ellen Degeneres that the Indian-American comedian’s name is pronounced “hah-sahn MEEN-HAHJ,” instead of the commonly mistaken, “muh-nahj.”

Domhnall Gleeson in Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens

(Image credit: Walt Disney Pictures)

Domhnall Gleeson (doh-nall glee-sen) 

Versatile Star Wars movies star Domhnall Gleeson left the world dumfounded by how to pronounce his Irish first name until he explained we should say “doh-nall” in a clip from EW’s YouTube channel.

Saoirse Ronan in Lady Bird.

(Image credit: Universal Pictures)

Saoirse Ronan (sur-sha ro-nan)

An Irish actor whose first name is more notoriously mysterious (for both the spelling and pronunciation) is four-time Oscar nominee (for movies like Antonement and Lady Bird) Saoirse Ronan, who has assured us in multiple interviews — and in her SNL monologue — that it is “sur-sha.”

Zoe Saldana as Lt. Nyota Uhura in Star Trek: Beyond

(Image credit: Paramount)

Zoe Saldaña (zo-ee sal-dahn-ya) 

Geek Goddess Zoe Saldaña (known for too many franchises to count) actually admitted to E! News that she initially introduced herself to the world as Zoe “Sal-DAN-uh” when, in reality, the accent mark is not to be ignored.

Raven Baxter (Raven Symoné) in Raven's Home

(Image credit: Disney)

Raven-Symoné (ray-ven see-mon-ye)

Apparently, the accent mark in Raven-Symoné’s name is not to be ignored either, as the Disney Channel star made clear in a TikTok that it is not “sim-ohn,” but “see-mon-ye.”

Khloé Kardashian on The Kardashians.

(Image credit: Hulu)

Khloé Kardashian (clo-ay kar-dash-ee-yen)

It appears we have also been ignoring the accent mark in Khloé Kardashian’s name, and we have Andy Cohen to thank for letting us — and Jimmy Fallon — know that the social media mogul’s first name is not pronounced with a hard “E.”

Lindsay Lohan wearing a pink polo in Mean Girls

(Image credit: Paramount Pictures)

Lindsay Lohan (lind-see low-en)

It appears that we have been mistakenly emphasizing the “HAN” in Mean Girls cast member Lindsay Lohan’s last name, as she took to TikTok to explain that it is really a much smoother, “low-en.”

Amanda Seyfried as Elizabeth Hughes in The Dropout.

(Image credit: Hulu)

Amanda Seyfried (uh-man-duh sigh-fred) 

Years ago, Lindsay Lohan’s Mean Girls co-star Amanda Seyfried claimed to Hollywood Streams that, despite her own sister going by the commonly mistaken “sigh-freed,” it is “sigh-fred,” which many others did not realize until Brad Pitt correctly announced her name at the 2021 Oscars, where her performance in Mank earned her a nod.

Joe Manganiello in Spider-Man

(Image credit: Sony)

Joe Manganiello (jo manga-nello)

As former True Blood cast member Joe Manganiello demonstrated in an interview with Just Jared, it is much easier to pronounce his last name than many may have assumed: “manga-nello.”

screenshot chrissy

(Image credit: Ellen Show)

Chrissy Teigen (kris-ee tye-gehn)

Model, actor, TV personality, and wife of John Legend, Chrissy Teigen, does not actually mind that people say her last name as “tee-gehn” instead of the official, Norwegian pronunciation, “tye-gehn,” and even told E! that they can continue calling her the former.

Ya know, I actually can relate to a lot of these celebrities with how often people get my own last name wrong. In fact, I would be willing the bet that the byline for this article had you dumbfounded already. But if there wasn't a stumper or five in this article I'd be very surprised. 

Jason Wiese
Content Writer

Jason Wiese writes feature stories for CinemaBlend. His occupation results from years dreaming of a filmmaking career, settling on a "professional film fan" career, studying journalism at Lindenwood University in St. Charles, MO (where he served as Culture Editor for its student-run print and online publications), and a brief stint of reviewing movies for fun. He would later continue that side-hustle of film criticism on TikTok (@wiesewisdom), where he posts videos on a semi-weekly basis. Look for his name in almost any article about Batman.