‘Psych’ Star James Roday Announces ‘Long Overdue’ Decision to Start Going by His Birth Name

James Roday Announces Long Overdue Decision to Start Going by His Birth Name
James Roday Rodriguez Phil Mccarten/Invision/AP/Shutterstock

Introducing James Roday Rodriguez! For the first 21 years of his career, the Psych star went by his first name and a made-up last name. But now, he has started to use his birth name professionally in honor of his Mexican heritage.

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Rodriguez, 44, revealed in an interview with TVLine on Tuesday, July 14, that he came to the decision after his father told him stories about his grandparents and their experiences in the 1930s and ‘40s.

“I was deeply moved, but also very shaken by a lot of the stuff that I heard — stuff that I was one or two generations removed from and never needed to reconcile or even stop and think about,” he explained. “It basically blew up my own relationship with my race, my sense of who I am when it comes to my relationship with that half of me. And it sent me down a road of reading and wanting to learn more about Mexican-American history and its foundation in this country.”

The A Million Little Things star continued, “It 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. The fact that my birth name is Rodriguez is out there [on the internet]. I’ve never buried it. But I’ve also never led with it.”

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Rodriguez, who was born James David Rodriguez, settled on the stage name James Roday in his early 20s, three years after auditioning for Primal Fear and allegedly being told by the casting director that he “didn’t look Latino enough” for his real last name. At the time, he told people that he had changed his name because there was already a James Rodriguez registered in the Screen Actors Guild. However, he confirmed in Tuesday’s interview that that was not the full story.

“It was something that I used to make myself feel better and to sleep at night,” he told TVLine. “But now I’m going to go back to the name I was born with. It’s long overdue. I’m a little bummed out that my grandparents are not alive to see it. But my dad is. And I think it will mean something to him. That, in and of itself, is reason enough for me.”

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Rodriguez, who legally changed his middle name from David to Roday years prior, debuted his new professional moniker in the opening credits of Psych 2: Lassie Come Home, which premiered on NBCUniversal’s streaming service, Peacock, on Wednesday, July 15.

“[Psych] kind of changed the trajectory of my career,” he told the website of the original USA Network dramedy, which aired from 2006 to 2014. “In many ways it feels like the absolute right place for it to happen.”

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