"And the choice was I wasn’t going to conform to Hollywood, Hollywood was going to conform to me."
Dwayne Johnson, aka The Rock, made more money in 2018 than any other actor – a whopping US$124 million.
So when Dwayne Johnson, the 47-year-old former professional wrestler, whose films in North America alone have earned over US$3.4 billion, offers some career and life advice perhaps it’s pertinent to listen.
As Dwayne Johnson was coming up to accept the Generation Award at the 2019 MTV Movie and TV Awards, the host Zachary Levi introduced the former American footballer by highlighting his lifetime achievements before showing a montage of Johnson’s most memorable moments from the big screen and television. Then The Rock danced onto the stage for a Samoan performance of Queen’s 1977 song ‘We Will Rock You’. It was some number.
Wearing an olive and gold bomber jacket with pink and light blue animal accents, fitted over a clean white T-shirt and burgundy form-fitting slacks and loafers, the Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle actor struck a macho pose before making his speech.
“Thank you. Thank you so much. Well, first of all, I want to thank the dancers and the choreographers Dave Scott and John Silver. Give it up for them — my boys! Thank you to MTV for this awesome — their really incredible, prestigious award,” Johnson said before praising the leading ladies in his life.
“I also want to thank my family at home. My girls — I got a houseful of strong-ass women. But mainly, I want to thank the ones who make this whole thing happen. I want to thank you — the people, the fans. I thank you. All of you at home, you are the reason I’m getting this, so I wanna share a really quick lesson with you guys that I’ve learned over the years.”
Then came the career and life advice.
“The most powerful thing that we can be is ourselves. I love what Zachary was saying because that’s us. We were always that little kid. We’re still that little kid. Right — just aspiring to be something better. Aspiring to be important.
“When I first got to Hollywood — Hollywood, they didn’t know what the hell to do with me. I mean, I was this half-black, half-Samoan and six foot four (1.93 metres), 275-pound (125kg) pro wrestler. You know; I was told at that time, ‘Well, you got to be a certain way. You got to drop some weight. You’ve got to be somebody different. You got to stop working out. Stop doing the things that I love. You got to stop calling yourself The Rock’. What?!
“And for years, I actually bought into it because you think, ‘Oh, that’s what I’m supposed to do’. And I was miserable doing that. So I made a choice. And the choice was I wasn’t going to conform to Hollywood, Hollywood was going to conform to me. So, Hollywood conformed to me and here I am with all of you getting the Generation Award. Holy shit.”
The crowd lapped up Johnson’s speech but he was far from finished.
“What you saw here tonight, that’s who I am. I’m proudly half-black and half-Samoan, and I wanted to bring those cultures here for the world to see. So, yes, it’s important that you are your most authentic self,” he said.
“I’m a walking example of that, but here’s the thing that I want to share with you guys — that’s not enough. Because there’s another side to being your authentic self, your true self — and that’s the side that the magic is on. That’s the side that’s gold. While yes, it’s important to be yourself — you’ve got to recognise the joy and the responsibility of bringing everybody with you. And you do that by being kind, by being compassionate, by being inclusive and straight up just being good to people because that matters.”
Dwayne Johnson, whose nine films completed, in production or announced, ended with a flourish.
“When I was 15 years old, I heard a quote and I will never forget, and I bring it with me everywhere I go, and it’s ingrained in my DNA. “The quote is this: ‘It’s nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice’. With that, I love you. I thank you. Drink your tequila. I will see you all down the road.”
Dwayne Johnson’s new film, Fast and Furious Presents: Hobbs and Shaw, is released on August 1. Here’s the second trailer: