Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is a man who generally needs no introduction. A wrestling legend and acting powerhouse, Johnson has been a household name since the 90’s. Not everyone might know the man behind the legend; his childhood, career, and now his venture into the world of social media influencer. One thing The Rock has always been is adaptable. From football star, to wrestling superstar, to acting legend; The Rock has now seamlessly mastered the art of social media posting and is connecting with a whole new generation of fans.
Dwayne’s Childhood and Early Years
Johnson was born on May 2, 1972, in Hayward, California. The Rock was born into a family of wrestlers; maternal grandfather “High Chief” Peter Maivia was a pro in the 60’s and 70s, and his father Rocky “Soulman” Johnson worked on the American regional wrestling circuit, and was a boxer. Soulman was a wrestling partner to none other than George Foreman as he prepped for “The Rumble in the Jungle” with boxing legend Muhammad Ali.
However, Johnson wasn’t initially interested in following in the footsteps of father and grandfather. In high school, Johnson favored football, and he later attended the University of Miami on a football scholarship. During high school, his family hit hard times.
Several months after the family was evicted from their apartment, his mother Ata attempted suicide. Johnson recounts how she stepped into traffic, telling The Express, “She got out of the car on Interstate 65 in Nashville and walked into oncoming traffic. I grabbed her and pulled her back on the gravel shoulder of the road. What’s crazy about that suicide attempt is that to this day, she has no recollection of it whatsoever. Probably best she doesn’t.”
Johnson’s family spent time bouncing between Hawaii, New Zealand, and California.
Undeterred, Johnson Heads to College with Visions of Football in His Head
Despite his mother’s struggles with depression and his own, Johnson was successful in school and headed off to UM with high hopes. Johnson graduated in 1995 with a Bachelor’s of General Science with a focus on criminology and physiology. Although Johnson attended the University of Miami on a football scholarship, he would not choose to continue on to the NFL. While it has been rumored for years that his abrupt departure from football was due to an injury, Johnson say that’s untrue.
In a Q&A for ESPN, The Rock explained next to former teammate Warren Sapp why he really left college football; “Yeah, the thing was, I had the greatest D-lineman in the history of the game playing in front of me. No. 99, No. 1 in your heart. I gotta tell you this: People are always asking me if I regret not making it to the NFL because of my injuries at Miami. Let me be clear: It had nothing to do with my injuries. I didn’t make it to the NFL because of one man. That’s Warren Sapp. Hands down. There’s a reason why I’m here right now, and it’s because of the grace of God, because you’re the best at what you do. And because you came in and said, ‘You go sit on the sidelines real quick, and I’m going out there to kick some ass.’”
Once he crossed football off his career list, Johnson set his eyes on the family business: wrestling.
The People’s Champ
Once Johnson decided to pursue a career in wrestling, he rocketed to the top. Originally billed as “Rocky Maivia” in a nod to both family wrestling influences, Johnson was sold to the audience as a, “face,” or fan favorite. Britannica writes, “…after just a few months of exposure, Johnson captured the WWF Intercontinental title. The aggressive push triggered a backlash from fans, however, and subsequent story lines saw the Rocky Maivia persona sidelined in favour of the Rock, an unapologetic ‘heel’ (‘bad guy’). The turn led to increased popularity.”
As The Rock, Johnson was an expert at crafting catch phrases like, “can you smell what The Rock is cooking?!” and, “know your role and shut your mouth,” while striking his signature, “people’s eyebrow,” expression. The, “people’s eyebrow,” is attained by lifting one eyebrow while lowering the other and staring down your opponent. When performed by Johnson, it was both charming and intimidating.
Johnson went on to strike an infamous feud with wrestling legend “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, and prevailed in the ring against wrestling greats like Undertaker and “Hulk” Hogan. Across his phenomenal career with the WWF/WWE, Johnson scored an impressive 17 title wins.
The People’s Eyebrow Looks a Bit Higher
Ever the renaissance man, Johnson was always looking for the next big opportunity. In 2001, he took his talent to the big screen as the Scorpion King baddie in blockbuster hit, “The Mummy Returns.” In 2002, Johnson was given his own, “Scorpion King,” movie.
From there, it was nothing but up for Johnson. The wrestler-turned-actor starred in huge TV and movie hits like Ballers, The Fast and the Furious, Jumanji, and later voiced the demi-god Maui in Disney’s super-hit, “Moana.” Johnson appeared alongside acting superstars like Kevin Hart, Jason Statham, and Karen Gillan.
Another Successful Enterprise
Johnson’s business acumen wasn’t limited to only his physical talent, but he had a head for running a business as well. In 2020, Johnson bought bankrupt business XFL. Biography.com shares Johnson’s statement on the acquisition; “The acquisition of the XFL with my talented partners, Dany Garcia and Gerry Cardinale, is an investment for me that’s rooted deeply in two things—my passion for the game and my desire to always take care of the fans,” Johnson said in a statement. “With pride and gratitude for all that I’ve built with my own two hands, I plan to apply these callouses to the XFL, and look forward to creating something special for the players, fans, and everyone involved for the love of football.”
Johnson’s Relationships and Family Life
On the ride upward of his meteoric rise to stardom, Johnson married childhood sweetheart Dany Garcia in 1997. The couple had a daughter together, Simone Alexandra, and stayed together for 10 years before divorcing in 2007.
In 2019, The Rock married long-time girlfriend Lauren Hashian. The pair already had two daughters; Jasmine Lia who was born in 2015 and Tiana Gia born in 2018.
The Rock as an Influencer
It may surprise some that the 48-year-old football-player-turned-wrestler-turned-actor could make it big on social media, but long-time fans aren’t shocked. With Johnson’s ability to adapt to the changing times and rebrand himself effortlessly, Johnson has wracked up astonishing follower counts across his social media pages. On TikTok, Johnson has a staggering 28.9m followers. On Youtube, Johnson has an impressive 5.32m followers. The Rock’s Instagram page has a people’s-eyebrow-raising 199m followers.
This mega success has combined to make The Rock one of the top five most successful social media influencers of all time.
With regular updates on his Instagram and YouTube and a return to the acting studio to continue filming Red Notice, Johnson isn’t going anywhere any time soon. With an impressive ability to pivot from one success to the next, The Rock has dominated every venture he’s set out to try. Johnson has battled his lifelong struggle with depression to become one of Hollywood’s most beloved sons.
The Rock Makes News
Just this past weekend, The Rock was once again a news headliner after he publicly endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Kamala Harris for the 2020 election.
In a social media post detailing his reasons for choosing Biden and Harris, Johnson shared a video of himself speaking with the candidates. In the caption, Johnson wrote, “As a political independent and centrist for many years, I’ve voted for Democrats in the past and as well as Republican.
In this critical election, I believe Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are the best to lead our country, and as my first ever (public) Presidential endorsement, I proudly endorse them for the presidential office of our United States.
Progress takes courage, humanity, empathy, strength, grit, kindness and respect.
Being KIND & RESPECTFUL to one another will always matter.
Now we must ALL VOTE, so hit the link up top and I’ll help you get it done.”
Many fans are unsurprised, but some took to his social media pages in rage. Undeterred, The Rock has continued his push for people to vote in recent days. In one post addressing the haters, Johnson wrote, “It’s always important to identify the conversations that really matter – and this conversation is critical – voting.
All of us getting out there to cast our vote for who we want.
Our voice. Our power.
And keep this in mind, no matter how strongly your opinion may differ from mine, it’s always gonna be ok.
You can yell all you want, but I’m not blocking you from our conversation. I won’t even yell back.
Because we all have work to do, now lets talk about VOTING!
Hit my link up top and I’ll help you register to vote.”
The People’s Champ has Become the People’s Influencer
Especially during a year as trying as 2020, people have turned to social media as a distraction from the weight of everyday life. People are naturally attracted to the bubbly optimism from The Rock, and his posts are always positive and welcoming. With that kind of atmosphere for fans to log in for, it’s no wonder Johnson has become such a social media star. It’s a bizarre fan base; from die-hard wrestling fans that follow him from the 90’s, to fans of his movies, to Gen Z kids just discovering his hilarious personality in 2020, a wild mix of people follow The Rock.
Johnson has demonstrated the immensely impressive ability to pivot in his career and start somewhere completely new without missing a beat. Unlike some stars who struggle to bring a fan base with them to a new venture, all one has to do is hear that The Rock has started a new project for a flock of fans to track down the news and find a way to be involved. While he is a very devoted husband and family man and spends a lot of his time on that important pursuit, Johnson will continue to dominate in every arena he enters. We can’t wait to see what The Rock has cooking next.