Former Hawaii resident Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, who is half-black and half-Samoan, urged others to be their most authentic selves as he accepted a lifetime achievement honor at the MTV Movie and TV Awards over the weekend.
“The most powerful thing we can be is ourselves,” Johnson, 47, said as he accepted the generation award at the MTV Movie and TV Awards in Santa Monica, Calif., on Saturday.
Johnson ran down the stage as dancers rocked to Queen’s “We Will Rock You” and a screen projecting the flaming letters of “The Rock” behind him.
The former pro wrestler is one of the highest-paid actors today. Johnson’s net worth is estimated at $280 million, according to Wealthy Gorilla.
Johnson has played roles in blockbuster movies such as “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle,” “Moana” and “Baywatch.” The third untitled Jumanji sequel, which was partly filmed on Oahu, has been scheduled to open this year on Dec. 13.
But success didn’t come easy for Johnson.
Growing up in Hawaii, Johnson got into trouble and his family got evicted from their three-story apartment building on Ahana Street.
Johnson recalled when he arrived in Hollywood, directors didn’t know what to do with him. Johnson was a pro wrestler of black-and-Samoan descent standing at 6 feet, 4 inches tall and 275 pounds.
“I was told at that time, you got to be a certain way,” Johnson said. “You got to drop some weight. You got to stop working out. You got to stop doing the things you love. You got to stop calling yourself ‘The Rock.’ What?!”
Johnson was known as “The Rock” during his years as a pro wrestler in the World Wrestling Federation. He used his wrestling fame to launch an acting career.
For years, Johnson said he bought into the idea of conforming to what others thought he should be. Johnson was miserable as a result.
“I made a choice,” Johnson said. “I wasn’t going to conform to Hollywood — Hollywood was going to conform to me.”
The audience erupted in applause.
In April, Johnson was among the six famous faces that graced the covers of Time’s annual “100 Most Influential People in the World” issue.
“I’m proudly half black and half Samoan,” Johnson said. “And I wanted to bring those cultures up here for the world to see.”
Editor’s note: Johnson’s video (below) contains some strong language that viewers may find offensive.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.