If you want to build a successful career that crosses many lines and encompasses demographics across the board, it should be rock solid, as in Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.
Johnson, who was born in California in 1972, was a defensive lineman for the University of Miami Hurricanes before a short pro football stint with the Calgary Stampeders in the Canadian Football League. But when the team cut him, he followed a path taken by his grandfather and father to become a pro wrestler, making his name in the WWE.
Although WWE is not placed on the same pro sports plateau as the NFL, MLB, NBA and NHL, it does turn its real athletes into big-time stars.
The Rock, who ended his full-time alliance with WWE in 2004, currently earns about $50 million in endorsement deals from Under Armour, Ford (for which he is shooting a new campaign in December) and elsewhere.
He is the highest-paid actor in Hollywood, earning $64.5 million over the past year from his movie roles, according to Forbes, including “Central Intelligence,” “Furious 7” and “San Andreas.”
“Moana”, an animated film from Disney in which he voices Maui, one of the lead characters, hits theaters this week. His upcoming scheduled movies include a reboot of “Jumanji”, “Fast 8” and “Baywatch,” with deals in place to appear in “San Andreas 2”, “Journey 3: From the Earth to the Moon” and “Doc Savage.”
Johnson has also done well on the small screen. He stars in HBO’s “Ballers,” now in its second season, as an ex-football player-turned-sports financial manager. And among the numerous projects under his Seven Bucks Productions is “Clash of the Corps,” a reality-based competition among top drum corps groups that has been airing on Fuse.
He has 57.1 million Likes on his Facebook page and 10.6 million followers on Twitter, and not all of them are WWE fans. Last week, he was named “The Sexiest Man Alive” by People magazine.
Through it all, Johnson has not lost sight of his goals: Work hard, train hard and support those who have sacrificed for others.
Earlier this month, Under Armour, which signed Johnson to a deal last year, unveiled a line of apparel and accessories with The Rock to support the men and women in America’s Armed Forces. In its first weeks, the UA Freedom x Project Rock Rock the Troops collection has exceeded expectations.
“Rock The Troops collection (is) not only Under Armour's No. 1 seller but also the fastest-selling athlete apparel line of its kind,” Johnson wrote on his Facebook page. “In the world of business, this is very big, considering I'm new to the apparel game. Yet with every new drop, we continue to ‘move the needle,’ make (a) big impact and show tremendous growth.”
As part of his on-going efforts to support current and former members of the military, Johnson hosted a free Rock the Troops concert Oct. 22 on Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam, Hawaii. Some 45,000 people watched, among the star-studded roster, Kevin Hart, Jack Black and Nick Jonas. The concert is scheduled to air on Spike on Dec. 13.
Also upcoming for Johnson: A sitcom in production for Fox chronicling his early days in the WWE, a sci-fi “time travel” series, “Lifeline,” in production for YouTube Red for 2017 and a scheduled appearance in WWE’s WrestleMania 33 this April in Orlando.
“This just means I'm still up at 4 AM trainin' hard, takin' care of my babies, drivin' my pick up truck and tellin' a few dirty/nerdy jokes,” Johnson wrote on Facebook, responding to his People honor but, in effect, revealing a path that others could follow to entertainment and marketing fame and fortune.