We are thrilled to announce Stacey Leilua’s role as Ata Johnson, in the new NBC comedy series ‘Young Rock’. The show chronicles the unpredictable, complex and poignant events in Dwayne Johnson’s youth and how key figures guided him to become the prolific success he is today. Perceived as a role model worldwide, The Rock’s inspirational story shines the light on those who have inspired him: As his mother, ‘Mama Rock’, Ata can be credited with guiding Johnson during his most volatile periods and keeping him grounded at the height of his stardom.
Stacey’s casting story befits the dazzling whirlwind of this Hollywood story, though her own humility and grace are what distinguished her and resonated with The Rock’s modest upbringing. After a competitive round of casting worldwide, Stacey’s first audition was prior to lockdown in the GCM studio. We then discovered she made it onto the whittled down shortlist, and she was flown to LA for the final round of auditions. Her commitment to integrity was essential to landing the role: Stacey wore a traditional Polynesian dress she foraged for at the South Auckland Otara markets and bore a striking resemblance to Ata. A member of the prominent Anoa’I wrestling family, Ata is also a cancer survivor, and Dwayne credits ‘Mama Rock’ with helping him maintain his strong principles and compassion for others despite his astronomical success as one of the world’s most beloved celebrities.
The series is shooting in Australia, to evoke the tropical climate of Johnson’s childhood in Hawaii, and his formative adolescence in Miami. Stacey considers it ‘an honour and a privilege’ to act in such an inspiring story. In revealing the core cast on his Instagram, Johnson praised Stacey as ‘talented and lovely’, and we couldn’t agree more!