Your Spotlight Name and FAQs
When beginning a career as an artist, it is very important to make sure that you have a unique professional name. This is your personal 'brand name' and you never want it to be confused with other performers. You may miss out on work or royalties!
Spotlight shares many name guidelines with Equity which are outlined below.
Most performers keep their own name, but many choose or are required to change their name for professional purposes. You will need to consider the following:
1. Always decide on one professional name, across the board.
In other words – use the same name for your Spotlight membership, your Equity card, any other organisations / unions, and on all professional documentation pertaining to your career.
2. Check with both Spotlight and Equity to see if they already have members with your name.
For Spotlight use our name checker and type in the name in the 'Check your name' section. If a performer comes up that means there’s already a Spotlight member with that name and you will be required to choose another. Please note however, if a name does not come up in the search it does not mean a name is immediately available. Please see below for information about diminutives and initials etc.
When joining Equity, names are reserved on receipt of a full or student membership form, which can be obtained from 020 7379 6000 or Equity. Equity receives applications on a daily basis and cannot guarantee the availability of names over the phone or web. Equity also represents singers, designers, stage managers, stunt performers and variety artists (amongst a wide range of performers), so it may be that another member will already have your chosen name.
Neither Spotlight nor Equity is able to hold or reserve names for future use, or for performers whose membership expire. If your membership lapses a current or new member may successfully apply to use same name in the meantime.
Please note: Spotlight does permit Young Performers to have the same/similar names as one another and in conjunction with any adult performer. If however they wish to apply for an adult membership (subject to our eligibility criteria being fulfilled) at a later date, they will be asked to change their name.
3. Check spellings and abbreviations
Check spellings and abbreviations
You should always double-check different spellings and abbreviations of a name, since neither Spotlight nor Equity will accept similar names, even if they are not identical. Examples are below.
- Same/similar names (spelling/sound ) e.g. Jayne Peel and Jane Peal or Judi Dench and Judy Dench
- Adding initials e.g. Ricky K Gervais
- Adding middle names e.g. Keira Knightley and Keira Jane Knightley
- Hyphenated first names e.g. Keira-Jane Knightley
- A diminutive of a long form name where a long form name already exists e.g. Pete Smith if we already have a Peter Smith
- A long form name where a diminutive already exists e.g. Benjamin Callard where we already have a Ben Callard
- Pluralised surnames where another exists e.g. John Owen and John Owens
4. Check the industry as a whole
If your name can be easily confused with someone else working in the industry, we also recommend that you change it, even if they are not a performer.
For example, there is no point starting to work as an actor with the name 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.
We recommend that you search IMDB to make sure there is no one else with your name.
Remember: your professional name is your identity in a complex and ever-changing industry, and you may use it for 60 or 70 years – choose wisely!
How do I change my name on my Spotlight profile?
Only Spotlight can change your name on your profile. To see if the name might be available check your name on the Name Checker then simply send an email to [email protected] with your request. Please make sure you email from your Spotlight registered email address and clearly state your current Spotlight name. We’ll check if it’s available.
How do I check to see if my name might be available on Spotlight?
Using the Spotlight name checker:
Using our name checker type your proposed name into the search box.
You might be able to have the name, but there may be a performer with a similar name that does not appear in the search results. Every name is cross-checked manually so although the name checker can give an indication it can only ever be a guide. That’s why we advise you to apply anyway and if there’s a problem we can work with you to find the right name.
Please remember that our network is changing all the time, so we can’t always guarantee that a name will be available when you apply or request to change it.
Can a young performer member and an (adult) performer member have the same name on Spotlight?
Yes, Spotlight does permit all Young Performers including those who are 18 + (Young Performer members) to have the same/similar names as one another and in conjunction with any (adult) performer member. However, two (adult) performer members cannot have the same/similar names.
What should I do if my name is already in use?
You will have to think of another name to use that you are comfortable with. Think of family names, nicknames, mother’s maiden name etc to come up with alternative ‘stage names’. We can then check their availability.
How do I choose my ‘stage name’?
It is sensible to have a stage name that is similar to or the same as your real name, however, that’s not always possible. You can therefore have a stage name that’s different from your legal name.
Does my name on Spotlight have to be the same as on Equity (UK)?
It’s advisable wherever possible to have the same name as your union membership, but as we do not share databases, you may secure a name with Spotlight that is not available with Equity (UK) or another union or vice versa. We each give precedence to our current members.
How do casting directors search for performers?
Casting directors using Spotlight search can type a name directly into the performer search. Or they will use filters such as gender, playing age, appearance and skills to determine their criteria. It’s important to also note that they have the option to sort by surname A-Z, sort by surname Z-A, sort by agent name A-Z, sort by agent name Z-A, sort by playing age: low to high and sort by playing age high-low.
Will I lose my name if my Spotlight membership expires?
We will protect your name for a period of 12 months after your membership expires after which your name becomes available if someone else wants to use it. If this happens, and you then want to reactivate your membership, you will need to get in touch with our membership team at [email protected]