Musician Nicki Minaj is beloved by fans worldwide and has earned dozens of award nominations and wins for her music in the past decade, as listed on IMDB. But she goes by “Nicki Minaj” only while onstage.
Tonight, August 28, Minaj is performing at the MTV Video Music Awards, which begin at 8 p.m. Eastern and Pacific times. She will receive the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award, which is “presented to artists for their outstanding contributions and profound impact on music video and popular culture,” according to MTV. Past honorees have included Madonna, Duran Duran, Beyonce, Kanye West, Missy Elliott, and Bon Jovi, People reports.
Nicki Minaj’s Real Name Is Onika Tanya Maraj
Minaj’s real name is Onika Tanya Maraj. She was born on December 8, 1982, according to her profile on the Grammy’s official website. As of this writing, she is 39 years old and according to CapitalXtra, she stands 5 feet, 2 inches tall.
Minaj spent her early childhood in St. James, which is a district of Trinidad and Tobago in the Caribbean. As she explained to the Guardian in 2012, her grandmother raised Minaj when she was very young. At age 5, Minaj moved to Queens, New York, where her parents had decided to relocate the family.
Minaj recalled that time in her life in a documentary for MTV in 2010. “”A lot of times, when you’re from the islands, your parents leave and then send for you because it’s easier when they have established themselves; when they have a place to stay, when they have a job. I thought it was gonna be for a few days, it turned into two years without my mother.”
Minaj told MTV she had expected a “castle” when she arrived in the United States but was very surprised by what she found. “I remember the house. I remember that the furniture wasn’t put down. It was, like, piled up on each other, and I didn’t understand why, ’cause I thought it was gonna look like a big castle.”
Minaj described a chaotic household where her father would “yell and curse a lot” and that money was tight because her father struggled to keep a job due to a drug addiction. She also told the Guardian that her mother, Carol, who worked as a nursing assistant, did all she could to keep Minaj and her brother safe throughout the turmoil.
Minaj Says She Doesn’t Like the Name ‘Onika’ But Doesn’t Want Her Loved Ones to Call Her ‘Nicki Minaj’ Either
The rapper became known as “Nicki Minaj” after signing one of her first production deals. “Somebody changed my name. One of the first production deals I signed, the guy wanted my name to be Minaj and I fought him tooth and nail. But he convinced me. I’ve always hated it,” she told the Guardian.
She added that she doesn’t like it if a close friend or family member calls her “Nicki Minaj.” She explained, “To me, I’m not Nicki Minaj when I’m with them.” She went on to clarify that “Nicki Minaj” is an alter ego for when she takes the stage. “I feel it’s one big theatre piece. It’s a show.”
However, she was not a fan of her birth name, either. In the 2012 interview with the Guardian, she stated that she doesn’t like the name “Onika.” Instead, she said her friends would call her either “Nicki” or by another nickname, “Cooky.”
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