How Dany Garcia, Daughter of Immigrants, Made Herself Into a Mogul

Imagine a perfect weekend: You work out, binge a show, drink with friends, catch a game, go to the movies, get fancy ice cream, check your finances.

Dany Garcia, business mogul, could have a hand in every one of your decisions.

Garcia—daughter of Cuban immigrants, mother of a teenager, and professional bodybuilder—is the architect of an empire. As chairwoman of a group of companies, she produces blockbuster movies and prestige TV shows, invests in a suite of buzzy brands, like the luxe ice cream brand Salt and Straw. She recently bought the XFL, becoming the first woman in the U.S. to own an equal or majority stake in a professional sports league.

This week she drops a clothing line, GSTQ. Even its name represents her unlikely domination. As a first-generation American in high school orchestra, Garcia played “God Save the Queen” on French horn, not knowing that the song refers to the British crown. She treated the phrase as her personal mantra. She would repeat, over and over, “I am the queen, and God is trying to save me.”

Now her business is booming. And her most successful product is her ex-husband.

In 2008, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s WWE career was wrapping up; his transition to acting had led to flop after flop. After over a decade of marriage, he and Garcia were headed toward divorce. The popular refrain, of course, is that divorce is ruinously expensive. But Johnson and Garcia have, perhaps, one of the most profitable divorces of our time. Garcia, who had been working on Wall Street, took over managing her ex, “DJ,” of whom she is clearly very fond. The Rock we know today—the highest-paid actor in Hollywood, a brand-deal Midas, a man so famous the whole world stops to watch him eat pounds and pounds of cod—was architected together with Dany Garcia.

“Dwayne is the perfect individual to build this massive enterprise around,” she says. “He’s so talented, he has this massive discipline, he’s so…”—she searches for the right word—“coachable.” Garcia and Johnson are business partners, and in another time, Garcia would be called the power behind the throne. But the truth is she’s more than just the power; she built the throne. For Glamour’s Doing the Work column, Garcia shared some of the secrets to building a long, impressive résumé. 

Glamour: What was your childhood dream job?

Dany Garcia: I was very motivated by the idea of having enough money and success so that I could take care of my family. My parents were immigrants, they got their GED later in life, they had three children, it was always a struggle. I was all about, “Okay, I just need to be a millionaire. If I’m a millionaire, I can take care of my family.” I knew I was going to get an international finance and marketing degree. I was like, “That will give me domestic exposure and global exposure!” Very specific, very nerdy.

What was your first job?

I actually started working when I was 12—I was running an eight-stable horse barn. [Laughs.] I’m sure it was totally legal, but it taught me a lot.

Do you have a morning routine?

I am all about routines—stability helps when you have so many moving projects. I’m up around 6:30, having coffee with my husband and our dogs, and then I head to the gym to get my hour, hour-and-a-half training session done. I train by myself, and it’s a very centering moment. I don’t do CrossFit or anything; I train to inspire me for the rest of my day, to set me up for success, not drain me to take a nap. It’s a physical meditation for me.

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