From Seven Bucks to Stardom: The Story of Dwayne Johnson

There are a lot of names to remember in today’s entertainment industry. While the names of most entertainers may slip the mind of the typical Hollywood consumer, there’s a man who has worked tirelessly to become recognizable on a global scale. Whether you refer to him as Dwayne Johnson, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, or simply as "The Rock", you know darn well who he is.

Before reaching top physical condition, becoming a box office sensation, or running a blooming production enterprise, Johnson had trial and anguish like many of us. Throughout difficult circumstances, Johnson possessed a strong perseverance, and a tremendous will to accomplish the goals he established for himself. This is the triumphant story of Dwayne Johnson, and while he’s achieved so much in his life, his inspiring success story is far from over.

Far before he achieved his massive fame, Dwayne Johnson was living in Honolulu, Hawaii with his mother in a dingy apartment living on her income of $180 a week. When Johnson was 14, he came home one night to see that their landlord had placed a lock on the door of their apartment. He and his mother had been evicted, and it was at that very moment that Johnson had an epiphany. He made a vow to do everything in his power to avoid that situation again. To take control of his life and make something of himself, he followed the actions of those he looked up to.

The men I admired were men that got everything done with their two hands. 

Johnson told Fortune Magazine. Johnson went on to approach that mentality in a metaphorical, and an unquestionably physical way.

Johnson and his mother were forced to leave Hawaii and join his father, Rocky Johnson, who was a professional wrestler. Johnson often relocated homes due to his father’s career, but he continued to both exercise and train as for both health and therapy. Johnson used exercise to instill discipline in his life, and it served him well early on. Johnson was a standout high school football player at the position of Defensive Tackle, and earned a scholarship at the University of Miami in 1991. In 1992, Johnson suffered a back injury that made him lose a potential starting spot. He lost the position battle to Warren Sapp, who went on to become a member of the Pro Football Hall Of Fame. Johnson’s chances at the NFL were diminished when he wasn’t invited to the combine. Johnson competed for a roster spot in the CFL for the Calgary Stampeders, but was cut early into the season. Johnson was 24 and forced to move back with his parents. He was distraught, he was a strong believer in the mantra that hard work pays off, but after all his hard work, all he had was $7 in his pocket.

Johnson turned down another chance to try out for the Stampeders, and instead decided that he wanted to follow in the footsteps of his Dad and become a professional wrestler. His father, however, was adamantly against Johnson pursuing a wrestling profession. Johnson begged his father to train him, and his father agreed. Of course, this is where Johnson’s fame began to grow. He worked his way up the ranks of the WWE and arguably became the most prominent member of the sport. Johnson then decided to take a career in film, and has become one of the biggest stars of the decade. He was the highest earning actor in the international box office in both 2013 and 2015. Throughout his film career, Box Office Mojo reports that Johnson has earned over 2 billion dollars, making him one of the highest earning actors ever. Johnson’s latest venture has been as an entrepreneur. Johnson started 7 Bucks Productions, a film and television production company, a title that alludes to his rock bottom (no pun intended) moment. He also has a line of clothing with Under Armour. Some may wonder what makes Johnson so successful. An undeniable factor is the connection he establishes with his audience, which he does in great measure with all of his endeavors. Johnson has a strong social media presence, constantly sharing posts that inspire and motivate his followers, but also promote his work. Johnson has nearly 54 million followers on Instagram.

From wrestling in flea markets, to used car dealerships, to barns, to breaking major attendance records in every dome in the U.S. I learned that the most important relationship I will ever have in business is the relationship with my audience.

Johnson told Fortune Magazine.

We can learn a lot from Johnson and his story. After all these years, his hard work has paid off in full, all of which he did with his own two hands. While Johnson’s exact path to success is going to be different from all of us, his method can be replicated universally.

Be humble, be hungry, and always be the hardest worker in the room.

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