The actor and former wrestler recalled being asked by a classmate if he was a girl on his first day of fifth grade

By Eric Todisco
May 03, 2021 10:36 AM
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Even a superstar like Dwayne Johnson has his fair share of embarrassing childhood stories.

During a recent appearance on Sunday Today with Willie Geist, the 49-year-old actor and retired wrestler revealed that he was often mistaken for a girl during his childhood days.

"I would say between the ages of 7 and 11, people thought that I was a little girl because I had really soft features and I had really soft Afro hair," Johnson told host Willie Geist, 46.

The Jumani: The Next Level actor even described one awkward encounter which took place on a school bus on his first day of fifth grade.

"I sit down next to a kid, and within 60 seconds, he goes, 'Can I ask you something?'" he recalled. "I said, 'Yeah.' He goes, 'Are you a boy or a girl?'"

Dwayne Johnson
Dwayne Johnson
| Credit: Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images

Due to his father Rocky Johnson's career as a professional wrestler, Johnson constantly moved around while he was growing up. By the time he entered high school, he had attended 13 different schools.

"I have had a Forrest Gump-ian childhood growing up," Johnson told Geist. "Wrestling in the '80s and in the '70s was way different than it is today. A lot of the times, including my father, the wrestlers would live paycheck to paycheck."

Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson Sits Down with Willie Geist
Dwayne Johnson
| Credit: Today Show

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Johnson's unorthodox childhood is now documented in the hit NBC sitcom Young Rock, which is based on the star's upbringing. Johnson stars in the series and is also portrayed in his younger years by three different actors — Adrian Groulx, Bradley Constant and Uli Latukefu.

In January, Johnson said at NBC's TCA press tour that creating Young Rock with executive producer Nahnatchka Khan and writer Jeff Chiang was "incredibly complicated" and "tough."

"Growing up, and you know we specifically went with these timelines in my life that were very defining times at 10 years old, 15 and 18 … there's a lot of things in between those years that took place ... but it was complicated and the relationship that I had with my dad was incredibly complicated — that was fueled by tough love," Johnson recalled of his late father who died on January 15, 2020 at age 75.

Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson (C) and his mom and dad
Dwayne Johnson with his parents
| Credit: Michael Tran/FilmMagic

"My dad was kicked out of his house at 13 and he was homeless, so that then shaped the man who then raised me," added Johnson. "And in that complication came an extraordinary life that was full of travel. I lived in 13 different states by the time I was 13 years old, also lived in New Zealand."

Despite their complex father-son relationship, Johnson said at the press tour that he believes his late dad "would have loved" the sitcom.

"He would have been so proud because for the first time, certainly in prime time, we are showcasing this world, that he and all of his brothers of the rings, so to speak, of those men in the '70s and the '80s that they gave their life to," Johnson said.