How The Rock Uses His Fame
As I’ve mentioned a few times back in my previous life as a photographer, one of my gigs was shooting the World Wrestling Federation which is now World Wrestling Entertainment. It was an exhausting gig but it was a really fun gig for a couple years. It was during the heyday of everybody’s a wrestling fan or watch videos during the attitude era of the WWF which I am essentially with them from 1998 through 2000.
What’s cool about that is how many people still remember so much in that era and how a few of them are actually bigger now than they ever were back then. One of them is The Rock. What’s funny is now The Rock is kind of just this huge star and he’s essentially untouchable. Like when I talk to people who they want to be or who they want in their podcast, The Rock so often is at the top of the list. It’s funny because back then The Rock was a big storm to WWF but he wasn’t by any stretch a household name. During those years, we had a ton of interaction with all the wrestlers but we definitely hang out, have conversations, a lot of laughs and at times you almost feel like your friends. The Rock was cool. He was always such a nice guy, very personable, very professional. I try not to over blow this thing because I don’t know them that much but he just seemed humble. His dad was a professional wrestler when I was a kid named Rocky Johnson. He is a football player and he play for the University of Miami. I know he had hoped for the NFL but it didn’t quite work out. He just came across as a humble, hard-working guy.
And there’s just a moment that I remember when I think man this is one of the biggest movie stars in the world right now. I remember hanging out backstage with him in New Jersey, The Meadowlands Arena when I was doing behind the scenes documentary about WWF. I remember once going to New York City because he was at the Jacob Javits Convention Center doing some type of an event and getting hired to go from Ohio University into New York just to hang out and photograph The Rock for the day while he met his fans and sign autographs. That I tell you is a future episode because of the Greyhound trip that I took to get there. There’re actually two Greyhound trips that are going to be podcast in the near future because there’s so ridiculous.
I don’t do this is a name drop because at this point when we meet up, I am positive he has no idea who I am. But the other day, as I was mindlessly surfing the Internet, I came across a video of The Rock. You didn’t see The Rock in the video but it was from a high school in Minnesota called the Stillwell Area High School. Let me backup first, before that, a senior at the high school named Katie Kelsinberg sent The Rock video asking him to go to the prom with her and she posted it on social media for The Rock to see. She said how she’s the biggest fan. She even dressed up like him for Halloween and then she made the big ask. Fast forward a little while later, Katie is sitting in her classroom and an announcement comes over the PA system. In the announcement, people start to realize that they recognize his voice. The camera is focused on Katie and you could see Katie’s reaction. All of a sudden, she realizes oh my goodness this is The Rock talking to our school. You could see she is overcome by emotion from this then The Rock goes on to say, this announcement is for Katie and how awesome she is. All her friends around her in shock and she’s blushing. He mentioned that she invited him to prom but unfortunately, he can’t go because he will be filming a movie in Hawaii. But he had a surprise for her. He said because you’re so cool, because now he’s her best friends which made her cover her mouth in shock. He then went on to announce that he rented out the local theater near the school. He rented it out just for Katie and her friends and they can watch a screening of his new movie called Rampage. And he added up that all the popcorn, candy and soda. It’s all on him. He’s paid for it all. He said he rented out 232 seats just for her and her friends and to have the greatest time. At this point, we see Katie’s face a couple shades darker than the rest of her skin, because how embarrassed she looked, a happy embarrassment. The Rock made one last comment and he says he’s waiting for some chivalrous gentlemen to ask Katie to the prom and then with that he said he was out to the amazement of the entire class.
When I watched this video, it made me like him even more because we hear so many stories of people that have success, have fame and have money and often use it for personal gain or they don’t use it to help at all. I see what The Rock is doing and I love it. He’s using the fame that he’s acquired and he’s worked for it. He’s using it unexpectedly to make people like Katie feel really special. What he did for that girl and for that school will probably never forget. Can you imagine when you’re in school, if the person you admire the most took not only the time to record something like that and to make it so personal and so fun but then to use your money and your influence to create an experience that the whole school will never forget. I can say that that inspires me to dream bigger. I am not sure how often I said here but money even though we talk about financial freedom, money is not a huge motivator for me personally. But when I see something like that, it becomes more motivational to me because that’s just an awesome way to use your money.
And to see people like The Rock use their success in ways like this, I hope is an example to all of us because you don’t need to have millions of dollars and tons of fame to do something like that. Now maybe to that level you do because if you don’t have fans in high school, you coming onto the PA systems not going to have much of the affect. I can tell you that The Rock’s generosity and his heart didn’t start when he got millions of dollars. But the millions of dollars can enhance that heart. We can all do our part to create moments like that for others but I do want to dream bigger and I want to think bigger. If you had that type of success, if you had that type of money, how would you use it? Would be just to get more for yourself? Or, would it be to do things like The Rock just did there? I can tell you about watching that video and seeing the looks on those kids faces and the impact that he had on them, I can’t imagine a more fun way to spend money. I’ll talk to you tomorrow