What an inspiring speech!
The actor and pro wrestler, 47, opened up about his early days in the entertainment industry, and revealed that he faced pressure to change who he was.
“When I first got to Hollywood ... they didn’t know what the hell to do with me,” he said. “I was this half-black, half-Samoan, 6-foot-4, 275-pound pro wrestler … I was told at that time, ‘Well, 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.’
“For years, I actually bought into it,” Johnson added. “Because you think, oh, that’s what I’m supposed to do.”
But then, he realized he was “miserable” trying to change himself to align with other people’s expectations.
“So I made a choice,” he said. “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.”
He also celebrated his cultural heritage, shouting out to the dancers onstage who had performed an act honoring his Samoan background.
“I’m proudly half-black and half-Samoan, and I wanted to bring those cultures up here for the world to see,” he said.
But while it’s important to be your “authentic self,” that’s not enough, Johnson went on to say. You also have to reach out to others and help lift them up.
“While yes, it’s important to be yourself, you’ve got to recognize the joy and responsibility of bringing everybody with you,” he said. “We bring everybody with us, and you do that by being kind, by being compassionate, by being inclusive, and straight up just being good to people, because that matters.”
It’s no surprise Johnson talked about kindness and inclusion in his speech, because he’s one of the kindest celebrities around.
Just last month, he recorded a sweet video message for a superfan who is in hospice care, and he also recently surprised his mom with a new house. Oh, and he even once saved a puppy from drowning. (Seriously, is he the nicest guy in Hollywood?)
For Johnson, helping others is simply part of who he is. He finished his speech with one of his favorite quotes on kindness.
“When I was 15 years old, I heard a quote, and I will never forget it. I bring it with me everywhere I go, and it’s ingrained in my DNA,” he said. “The quote is this: ‘It’s nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice.’”