Psych star James Roday reclaims his birth name and says he ‘sold out his heritage'

·3-min read
Getty Images
Getty Images

Actor James Roday, star of the cult-classic television series Psych, is reclaiming his birth surname after 20-years of working in the entertainment industry.

In an interview with TVLine, the actor discussed his choice to change his stage name to his legal surname, becoming James Roday Rodriguez again.

The Psych star’s legal middle name is David, which he has chosen to omit in his stage name, instead, continuing to include Roday.

(Getty Images for Hulu)
(Getty Images for Hulu)

After to the Black Lives Matter protests and the global response to it, Rodriguez was prompted to have a long talk with his father about his family’s heritage and the difficulties they faced as Mexicans living in Texas.

Rodriguez said, “It was so edifying, listening to my father talk about what it was like to be a brown person growing up in this country — and in Texas, no less. Having him relay to me stories about my grandparents and their experiences in the ’30s and ’40s.”

The actor continued and explained the conversation with his father “caused me to question a lot of the decisions that I have made as a 44-year-old man who has been working in the entertainment industry for 20 years, the biggest of which was the decision to not use my birth name when I started working professionally.”

He also said, "I can’t excuse the decision because of youth or naiveté or ambition. The bottom line is, I sold out my heritage in about 15 seconds to have a shot at being an actor."

(Peacock)
(Peacock)

His birth name was never a secret. Long-time fans of Rodriguez were aware of his Mexican heritage and his legal last name and it’s listed on his Wikipedia page.

One reason why Rodriguez changed his name was due to an uncomfortable exchange at his first audition for a lead role in a major movie when the casting director acknowledged that his skin-tone did not match his last name.

“The casting director said to me, ‘You’re so great, but I don’t think I can call you back because your last name is Rodriguez. But I can call you back for this four-line role of a gang member,’ which I ended up reading for,” Rodriguez explains, “But they said I wasn’t right for that either because I didn’t look Latino enough. They basically didn’t know what to do with me.”

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Rodriguez made it clear to TVLine that he doesn’t want “anyone to feel like I’m co-opting a movement to point a light at myself.”

The actor explained, “The truth is, it’s a deeply personal decision that I am doing for me. And I just hope it’s something that can be amplified. I hope we are all having these conversations in our lives. I hope we are all reflecting. I hope we’re all learning s**t that we thought we knew but didn’t know.”

The main point Rodriguez wanted to get across is that “now is the time to dig in and seize the opportunity, collectively, to just be better.”

The premiere of Psych 2: Lassie Come Home on the NBCU new streaming network Peacock will be the first time he's credited as James Roday Rodriguez.

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