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Sunset & Vine: Changing My Name?


So, here is the deal with my column for this month:

In October I went to Ireland for an amazing whirlwind of adventure… Rocked up to Kinnitty Castle, Co. Offaly, took it over, filled it with dear friends and family, had an amazing “night before”, got up the next day and GOT MARRIED!!!!! The wedding lasted basically a full 24 hours. As we were in the Dungeon Bar in the castle’s well, Dungeon, singing and dancing until 4 in the morning, then proceeded to get up the next morning and go horseback riding and clay pigeon shooting in full wedding gear with all our guests staying with us at the castle.

We return home to Sunset & Vine after a proper Irish quester and return to our life. The first question I get from friends, family & strangers alike is:


Honestly, I had not even given this two seconds of real thought prior to now. My immediate and first reaction was “no”, as I love my name and am proud of it and who I am. Why would I? Especially being in “the business of show” and all that goes along with your “name” your “starmeter” or whatever that nonsense is… Then as the subject kept coming up I was feeling like “no” was not my answer. It simply did not reflect or represent what I, Tonya Cornelisse, wanted in a visceral, powerful way. This, as strange as it may sound, was a vulnerable subject for me to talk about and it was uncomfortable.

I realized something that I felt very strongly about as I thought more and more about the “changing my name” deal. I was also, finally, doing the 21 day meditation challenge I had been putting off for lets just say awhile, and journaling daily about the essence of my “whole-self”…. the ever evolving whole self that I is me, the one that has taken me farther down paths, higher up mountains, and deeper into caves constantly as it is ever changing, hopefully, without getting stuck for too long from time to time.

The idea of changing my name was never something I would have initially considered as being a powerful move, or power-play so to speak, on ones’ true self, but it is. It is to me.

I am who I am now, right now, with all my history, wisdom, integrity, and identity to my spirit because of the choices I have made throughout my life thus far. One of the most important and profound paths I have done down is that of love. Feeling validated that I am enough, I deserve, to be loved. Truly, wholly loved without compromise. And that I am capable of receiving that and giving that pure love in return. Not to be trite or cheesy about it but! – I AM GINORMOUSLY PROUD OF IT.

The idea of a union-ship, a family of my own, a marriage of two souls, was something I didn’t avoid necessarily, but for me it was just something that even the idea of it I would … well, completely avoid!!!! I had been in and out of many a courtship, single for periods of time, in a few long-term or serious relationships… I loved it all, but marriage…please. Please! Being an artist and an independent spirit through getting married … Please!

Well, I went down deeper paths, explored deeper caves, and flew to greater heights as a human being. As stated above, I am recently married and when faced with –

The natural question: “Do “I WANT” to change my name?

My answer: “YES, why yes, I Would

~ here’s why: I am proud of my choices and who I am now, today, the fears I’ve faced and fights I’ve fought. I am not only a better artist, friend, lover but a better all round human being & force of nature…. Does changing my name change any of that? NO. 

It is who I am today, without compromise or sacrifice, and I am proud of that journey. I want to own it in all ways and so, yeah, I want to go forth with the name I feel I own …. I have expanded my humanity and gained another name as a result and once again, I AM SUPER PROUD.

This new name is now mine, I own that shit!

So, yeah, I am going to change my name….because it’s mine.


Tonya Cornelisse

About Tonya Cornelisse

Theatrically, Tonya has worked both on and Off-Broadway honing the stages of The Daryl Roth Theatre, The Cherry Lane, Labyrinth, The Public Theatre, E.S.T., Humana Festival, and many more. In Los Angeles: Sam Shepard's Buried Child at The Whitefire Theatre, IAMA Theatre Company. Tonya is a proud member of Ensemble Studio Theatre, where she can regularly be seen on stage in Los Angeles. Tonya has worked in over 30 films big & small including the upcoming THE VOYAGE OF DOCTOR DOLITTLE with Robert Downey Jr. and LOVE IS NOT LOVE.Other features: BENT, MOPE, GROW HOUSE, Nick Cassavetes’ YELLOW, PELÉ, CRAVE, & THE WOLVES OF SAVIN HILL. She garnered multiple awards from all around the world (including the BFI Award for Best Actress) for her performance in LIMINAL. Television shows include Catastrophe, Trial & Error, How To Get Away With Murder, Scandal, NCIS, Parks & Recreation, ER, Law & Order(s), The Wolfpack of Reseda and the series lead in two of FOX Searchlight’s Digital Webisodes including Crack Whore Galore & The Katie Kooter Show which she also created. In addition to her acting credits, Tonya has penned a number of screenplays, plays and short stories including Dog Lovers, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. She works extensively in Voice Over including Voice of Lexus & Lipton Tea. Tonya is also an award-winning Narrator: TONYA'S NARRATION PROFILE