Dwayne Johnson surprises graduating high schooler after answering his call for leadership

Dwayne Johnson at a Hand and Footprint Ceremony at the TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX in Los Angeles, Calif. CP Images Archive

Following a recent and emotional plea asking America’s leadership where it has been in the midst of the Black Lives Matter protests, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, it seems, has found an answer — but not in U.S. President Donald Trump.

That’s right, in a follow-up IGTV post shared on Monday, Johnson is no longer asking “Where are you?” Instead, he expressed hope for the future of the nation and the next generation of leaders after receiving a letter and gift from a high school senior which “knocked (him) off (his) feet.”

In her touching letter — sent prior to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic — the soon-to-be high school graduate, Lorraine Angelakos, asked the professional wrestler and movie star if he would attend her (since-postponed) commencement on May 29 and speak with Pompano Beach High School’s graduating class of 2020 in Florida.

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“When I received this letter, it knocked me off my feet. It’s not what Lorraine is saying, it’s how she’s saying it,” said the 48-year-old star.

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To all the high school graduates of 2020, Truth is, you’re the generation that will have the answers to the questions, we – as adults – are having a challenging time finding the answers to. My/our accountability to your generation is helping create the pathway to normalizing equality and showing that being compassionate, tough, empathetic, strong and kind are never mutually exclusive. And your generation will ensure that equality for all, through empathy and respect will remain forever. Thank you, Pompano Beach High School Senior Class President and Valedictorian, Lorraine Angelakos for this incredibly moving letter that resonated with me deeply. Remember, to put your money where your heart is and always let your heart, mana and instinct be your guiding North Star. We must become the leaders we’re looking for. And I can’t wait to see the leaders that you and all your fellow high school graduates become. Congrats, enjoy your summer, and keep being THE hardest workers in the room✊🏾🎓 DJ aka Mr. 2% #normalizeequality

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A paragraph from Angelakos’s letter reads: “Some students will be making their way to college and some won’t, some will be hitting the workforce. All of us have dreams and aspirations. I consider you an inspiration to our youth, to help remind us that hard work, positivity and perseverance will pay off no matter how hard the road might seem.”

“Most commencement speakers are sought for after you complete college, but I think the time is now, in your senior year — when some students won’t have that luxury to attend college,” wrote the senior class president and valedictorian.

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“With the help of someone like you, you can inspire them. They deserve it now with you as their inspiration,” she added.

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In an attempt to boost her odds of getting Johnson to speak at her commencement, Angelakos said that she, along with her class, was willing to start a fundraiser to get him to the Pompano Beach institute.

“We are willing to fundraise to bring you to speak. Please advise on what your requirements are: travel, food, etc.,” she wrote.

Referring to what “sealed the deal” for him on finding his answer to the “Where are you?” question Johnson proceeded to read more of the letter.

“As part of a good faith request. I have enclosed seven bucks, as a down payment for your services,” Angelakos added.

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The US$7 gift, of course, refers to Johnson’s infamous “seven bucks moment,” which was back in 1995, when he was only 23 and had only $7 to his name.

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On many occasions — including this particular video address — Johnson has acknowledged that was the starting point of his career after he was cut from the Canadian Football League (CFL) and before he became a professional wrestler in 1996 — the path that would eventually make “The Rock” a household name across the globe.

In response to Angelakos’s sentiment, Johnson said: “Lorraine, I would have done this for free. I would have travelled the world … around the world twice and back, just to come and speak to you guys during graduation.

“Had you guys had a normal graduation, had we been under different circumstances, I would have been there,” he added, alluding to the postponed commencement.

READ MORE: Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson confronts Donald Trump: ‘Where are you?’

“I asked a question a few weeks ago to our nation’s leadership and now I have my answer,” Johnson continued, reiterating his original query. “You’re right here,” he added, pointing to Angelakos’s letter. “Here you are.”

The Jumanji star proceeded: “Lorraine, you and your fellow graduates at Pompano Beach High School, all across our country, and around the world for that matter … you are our empathetic, compassionate leaders who are going to lead us. You’re going to be responsible for answering the questions (and) for making sure our world is enjoying a normalized equality.”

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Before revealing that he was going to return the favour of Angelakos’s $7 gift and invest it back in her name, Johnson said: “Always put your money where your heart is. Your heart, your mana and your instinct will always be your North Star.”

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“I’ll be in touch,” added the star, before congratulating the Pompano Beach High School graduating class of 2020 — who he revealed will now be graduating this Friday (June 19).

“I can’t wait to see the leaders that you and all your fellow high school graduates become,” Johnson wrote in the caption of the post.
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