(Photo illustration by Anya Thakur)
Liberty High School

Simone Garcia Johnson on what ‘Moana’ means to her

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s teenage daughter, model, former Golden Globes ambassador and activist Simone Garcia Johnson, has been vocal about the need for diversity and inclusion. She’s been a strong supporter of the #TimesUp initiative to end the marginalization and harassment of women in Hollywood, youth advocacy, women’s and LGBTQ rights and equality, environmental protection and conservation, and effective gun control reform through #NeverAgain in the wake of Parkland, Fla. and other tragedies.

From celebrating Pride Month recently to protesting gun violence and supporting the athletes who kneeled during the anthem to protest systemic injustice and oppression, she uses her platform to raise awareness and lend her voice to causes important to her despite controversy or backlash it may incite. It’s clear social issues and speaking out are important to her, and when waves were made in theaters for representation, she felt compelled to weigh in and champion progress and visibility.

Being part Samoan and close to the Polynesian culture and community, the Disney film “Moana,” in which her father voices demigod Maui and the story revolves around a young, headstrong Polynesian girl, greatly impacted her.

I know I’ve talked about this to people close to me, but this is the first time I’ve shared this publicly,” Johnson shared on her Instagram. “Understanding how much this movie means to the Polynesian community is something special. Growing up, talking about being part Samoan caused so many people to say ‘what’s that?’ ‘where is that?’ ‘what’s Polynesian?’ Every time one of these questions was asked it hurt me a little inside. I’m so proud of our culture and I always wished that it could be shared with the world.”

She was able to witness representation becoming a reality.

“Representation matters and as a little girl I always wanted a Polynesian princess to look up to,” she continued on her Instagram. “That dream hasn’t changed but has now simply become a reality. So to all my beautiful Polynesian girls out there, congratulations. We finally have a princess.”

And when looking back on the red carpet she graced besides her father and sister, she saw it as a moment not only for herself, but the Polynesian community as a whole.

“Last night was an absolute dream,” Johnson enthused. “This movie means so much to myself as well as the rest of the Polynesian community. It made me so happy to be able to share the carpet with my dad and my sister. Thank you so much and congratulations to everyone who helped create this beautiful film. Alofa atu.”