A wax museum in Paris said it would change its recently unveiled statue of Dwayne Johnson, better known as the Rock, after a week of ridicule on social media and a plea from the actor himself.
The statue, unveiled last Monday by the Grévin Museum — the French equivalent of Madame Tussauds — depicted the “Fast and the Furious” star and former W.W.E. champion wearing a blue polo and slacks with his arms folded and a slight smirk on his face. Critics online quickly mocked several aspects of the likeness, especially the skin tone, which many described as noticeably lighter than Johnson’s.
“Who is this because uhhhh … You do know he’s Samoan and Black right lol?” wrote one commenter. (Johnson is the son of a Black father and Samoan mother.) An Instagram post about the “melanin deficient” statue on the popular celebrity news account The Shade Room received over 40,000 comments.
On Sunday evening, Johnson himself weighed in, reposting an Instagram video in which the comedian James Andre Jefferson Jr. jokes that the figure “looks like he works at H & R Block.” Johnson added that he would have his representatives work with the museum on “some important details and improvements — starting with my skin color.”
The Grévin responded to the criticism on Monday afternoon, posting in an Instagram story that it had listened to feedback and that its artists were “already working on improving” the statue. The museum says it is home to more than 250 celebrity wax figures, including those of Angelina Jolie, President Joe Biden and Serge Gainsbourg.
In a post on its website, the museum described a meticulous design process for the statue, noting that it had taken 10 days to replicate Johnson’s tattoos and that his eyes had to be redone three times. “The most complicated thing about realism is getting the statue to come alive from the visitors’ perspective,” the artist, Stéphane Barret, was quoted as saying.
Representatives for the Grévin and Johnson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The Johnson controversy is not the first time the French museum has come under fire for its portrayal of a Black celebrity. In 2019, W magazine ranked its statue of the supermodel Naomi Campbell among the “most cursed celebrity wax figures of all time.”
In 2017, the midtown Manhattan location of Madame Tussauds faced similar allegations of whitewashing over its rendering of Beyoncé.