Dwayne Johnson: AAPI Heritage Month Actor Highlights

Movie star. TV star. Producer. Activist. Pro wrestler. One day President? We honor AAPI all-timer Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson.

Chuck Walton

By Chuck Walton

Dwayne Johnson AAPI Heritage Month Jungle Cruise

© Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection

For more than 25 years, AAPI superstar Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson has been conquering the public playing field. Whether it's football, pro wrestling, Hollywood, or politics, there's perhaps no celebrity more likeable or empathetic than The Rock (except maybe fellow islander Keanu Reeves – hey, someone get these guys in a movie together).

How You Know Him

Oh, let's count the ways. He's one of the biggest movie stars around. His films have grossed over $10.5 billion worldwide. There are the "Jumanji" movies, "Moana," "Hobbs & Shaw," the "Fast & Furious" series, "Central Intelligence," and more.

© Universal / Courtesy Everett Collection

© Universal / Courtesy Everett Collection

He's also made interesting, hit tv projects, including the semi-autobiographical "Young Rock," the HBO show "Ballers," and the competition show "The Titan Games."

Plus, he's one of the WWE's greatest living legends. He debuted in the '90s as "The Rock," cooking up amazingness ever since.

On top of that, he's contemplating running for office some day. No, seriously. And we won't even be surprised if this AAPI icon (half Samoan on his mom's side, half African American on his dad's) were to win. In fact, given his compassionate nature, leadership and multi-tasking skills, we're all about it.

His Life So Far

Dwayne Douglas Johnson was born May 2, 1972, to Ata and Rocky Johnson. Both his parents are wrestling royalty. Rocky Johnson, a pro wrestler favorite, was voted into the Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame. Ata Johnson was the adopted daughter of Peter Maivia, also a pro wrestler. Her mom Lia was the first female wrestling pro promoter. She operated Polynesian Pacific Pro Wrestling after her husband's passing.

So, The Rock's ascendance to the top of the WWF in the late '90s might have seemed preordained. But before he got there, Johnson was a budding football star. He played on the University of Miami's 1991 national championship team. However, after a failed shot at the pros, Johnson moved on to wrestling, and has never looked back.

While his "The Rock" persona was supposed to be villainous, Dwayne's charisma made him highly popular alongside superstars like Stone Cold Steve Austin and John Cena. He battled with them, against them and even took on prior greats like Hulk Hogan. He retired from the ring in 2019…but who knows, maybe he'll cook up some more action in the future. Regardless, wrestling fans should check out "Fighting with My Family" and "Young Rock."

Onscreen, a small part in "The Mummy Returns" turned into a starring role in "The Scorpion King" and a 20+ year run as one of our biggest screen idols. Nowadays, his name is synonymous with spectacle cinema. He's up for pure action in films like "San Andreas," and comedy in movies like "Central Intelligence" with Kevin Hart and the "Jumanji" movies…also with Kevin Hart.

© Warner Bros. / courtesy Everett Collection

© Warner Bros. / courtesy Everett Collection

On top of the acting, this proud Samoan is an activist and philanthropist. He created the Dwayne Johnson Rock Foundation in 2006 to aid at-risk and terminally ill kids, and engages fans everywhere to "Smackdown Your Vote." Johnson is registered as an independent, and endorsed Joe Biden in the latest Presidential election. He's also expressed interest, if folks want him to run, for someday giving a go for the highest office himself.

The Movie to See
© Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures / courtesy Everett Collection

© Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures / courtesy Everett Collection

"Moana" is the best Rock movie in several ways. The Disney tale received nominations for Best Animated Feature and Best Original Song. It's an original story about headstrong Moana (Auli'I Cravalho), daughter of a Polynesian chief. She's determined to save her island by returning a mystical relic to the goddess Te Fiti. To do so, she seeks the help of demigod Maui, voiced by Dwayne Johnson. Beyond giving representation to Pacific Islanders, the movie's just thoroughly entertaining and genuinely moving. Plus, The Rock is larger than life.

What's Up Next

Rock fans, rejoice! "Young Rock" has just been renewed for a second season. Plus, there's lots more Rock on the way. "Jungle Cruise," (watch trailer here) an update of the Disney ride in motion picture form, comes out July 30 in theaters, starring Johnson and Emily Blunt. And the DCEU's long-anticipated "Black Adam," featuring The Rock as Shazam nemesis Teth/Black Adam, is only one year away, opening July 29, 2022.

About the Author

Chuck Walton

Chuck Walton

Chuck is an editor/writer who's worked for NCM, Fandango, Movies.com, MediaTrip, Hollywood.com and Newsweek. His favorite movie is "Jaws." He's definitely a dog guy.

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