Let's pause and reflect on how far Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson has come: from his Speedo-clad wrestling theatrics in the WWE ring of the late 1990s, to a rumored bid for the presidency, to a coveted position as one of the highest-paid actors in Hollywood in 2019. Last night, Johnson was honored with the Generation Award at the 2019 MTV Movie & TV Awards. He took the opportunity to look back on his journey and share some heartfelt advice about staying true to yourself amid pressure to conform.
Johnson took the stage as dancers performed a fiery routine that combined Johnson's Black and Samoan cultures, to the very appropriate song choice of Queen's "We Will Rock You." He joined in on the dance and then posed for the big finale, doing the iconic "Rock Eye."
After accepting his golden popcorn statuette, Johnson first thanked the dancers and choreographers, then MTV, and his family of "strong-ass women." He thanked the fans and offered a lesson he's learned over the years: "The most powerful thing that we can be is ourselves."
To roaring applause, Johnson continued: "When I first got to Hollywood… Hollywood, they didn't know what the hell to do with me. I mean I was half Black, half Samoan, six-foot-four, 275-pound pro wrestler. I was told at that time, you've got to be a certain way, you've got to drop some weight, you've got to be somebody different, you've got to stop working out, stop doing the things that I love, you've got to stop calling yourself 'The Rock.'" He said that he was miserable trying to follow these rules, so he made a choice: "I wasn't going to conform to Hollywood, Hollywood was going to conform to me."
He encouraged the audience to not only be their authentic selves, but to "bring everybody with you" — to be "kind," "compassionate," and "good." He concluded: "It's nice to be important, but it's more important to be nice." So, let's all agree to be good! After all, it's the gospel of "The Rock."
Watch Johnson's full acceptance speech at the 2019 MTV Movie & TV Awards, below.
Photo via Getty