MTV Movie & TV Awards: Honoree Dwayne Johnson Explains Making Hollywood Conform to Him
The Generation Award recipient implored his fans to always remain authentic, something that he struggled with in the early stages of his career.
Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson was honored with the Generation Award at the 2019 MTV Movie & TV Awards, which aired Monday night, but not before an elaborate musical number set to Queen's "We Will Rock You," performed by numerous dancers.
Once on stage, the Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle and Ballers star thanked MTV, his family — particularly his "household of strong-ass women" — and his fans. Johnson also shared a lesson for those at home: "The most powerful thing that we can be is ourselves."
"When I first got to Hollywood, they didn't know what the hell to do with me. I was this half-black, half-Samoan, 6'4", 275-pound pro wrestler," he said. "I was told at that time, you gotta be a certain way. You gotta drop some weight. You gotta be somebody different. You gotta stop working out ... you gotta stop calling yourself 'The Rock.' "
Johnson continued, "For years, I actually bought into it, because you think, 'Oh, that's what I'm supposed to do.' And I was miserable doing that, so I made a choice. The choice was, I wasn't going to conform to Hollywood; Hollywood was going to conform to me."
Johnson explained that he was proud to be half-black and half-Samoan, and he wanted to "bring those cultures for the world to see."
"It's important that you are your most authentic self. I'm a walking example of that," he said.
He also implored everyone listening to "recognize the joy and the responsibility of bringing everybody with you," which he said is accomplished by being kind, compassionate, inclusive and good to others.
According to MTV, the Generation Award celebrates beloved actors whose diverse contributions to both film and television have turned them into household names.
MTV, VH1, CMT and Logo general manager Amy Doyle described Johnson as an "icon" who has "proven to be the ultimate badass — an action star with a flair for comedy, one of the greatest professional wrestlers of all time and a true family man."
Last year, the award went to Chris Pratt, and other previous recipients include Will Smith, Reese Witherspoon, Robert Downey Jr., Mark Wahlberg, Sandra Bullock, Jamie Foxx, Johnny Depp, Ben Stiller, Adam Sandler, Mike Myers, Tom Cruise, Jim Carrey, and the Fast & Furious franchise.
Jada Pinkett Smith also received one of the evening's biggest honors: the Trailblazer award, which MTV says recognizes game-changing creators with fresh and fearless voices in entertainment.
The 2019 MTV Movie & TV Awards were hosted by Zachary Levi at the Barker Hangar in Santa Monica on Saturday. The awards ceremony is currently streaming on MTV.com and across all social media platforms.