The Golden Compass
“Usually it's a gut-wrenching decision. You realize the whole time how much rests on the shoulders of this kid. But I didn't have any doubts about Dakota. She looks not quite tamed and that's Lyra.” Director Chris Weitz on Dakota Blue Richards
British newcomer Dakota Blue Richards was rocketed to worldwide fame with her performance as Lyra Belacqua in the Chris Weitz film “The Golden Compass” (2007), from which she picked up a series of award nominations. Talking about her character on the film, she said, “I feel like I can relate to her. I like to think I'm quite brave. I stand up for myself and I don't let other people tell me what to do. Well, unless it's my mum.”
After her successful debut, Richards starred as Maria in the Toronto premiered “The Secret of Moonacre” (2008) and as April in the made-for-TV film “Dustbin Baby” (2008).
Childhood and Family:
Dakota Blue Richards was born on April 11, 1994, in South Kensington, London, to Michaela Richards, a social worker. Her mother took the name Dakota from a North American Indian tribe, with whom Michaela had been friendly with during her one year stay in America. The name Blue comes from the nickname of Dakota's father. Dakota was raised by her mother.
Growing up in Brighton, Dakota was educated at St Paul's Primary School. She actively took part in class assemblies and school plays and spent her weekends attending drama lessons. At age 11, Dakota entered the K-BIS Theatre School, where she studies drama, musical theatre, jazz tap, singing and ballet.
The Secret of Moonacre
“As soon as I saw Dakota's screen test, I realized that the search was over.” Philip Pullman
Dakota Blue Richards began acting in school plays. She subsequently became the center of attention after winning the role of Lyra Belacqua in “The Golden Compass” (2007), an adventure fantasy adapted from Philip Pullman's hit novel “Northern Lights.” Selected from 10, 000 actors who attended open auditions in Cambridge, Oxford, Exeter and Kendal, the 12-year-old girl proved outstanding in the movie and took home several nominations for her acting, including a Young Artist nomination for Best Performance in a Feature Film - Leading Young Actress, a Saturn nomination for Best Performance by a Younger Actor, a Critics Choice nomination for Best Young Actress from the Broadcast Film Critics Association, a London Critics Circle Film nomination for British Breakthrough - Acting, and a National Movie nomination for Best Performance - Female. “The Golden Compass” was nominated for two Academy Awards and won one for Best Achievement in Visual Effects. It also netted a BAFTA for Best Special Visual Effects, a Hugo nomination for Best Dramatic Presentation - Long Form, a National Movie film nomination for Best Family Film, a Satellite nomination for Best Motion Picture, Animated or Mixed Media, and other honors. In addition to Richards, the film also featured Oscar winner Nicole Kidman as Mrs. Coulter, Daniel Craig as Lord Asriel, Sir Ian McKellen as the voice of Iorek Byrnison and French beauty Eva Green as Serafina Pekkala.
“One of the things Nicole taught me was, no matter what happens in a scene, you carry on even if you fall in a dustbin. If you get out of the bin and just carry on they might end up cutting it and using part of that scene anyway. But thankfully that's never happened to me.” Dakota Blue Richards
After the much talked about performance, Richards starred as Maria in another based-on-book, “The Secret of Moonacre.” Debuting at the Toronto Film Festival on September 6, 2008, the film was shown at the London Film Festival on October 26, 2008, and scheduled to be released theatrically in England in February 2009. Also starring in the film were Ioan Gruffudd, Tim Curry, Natascha McElhone, Juliet Stevenson and Augustus Prew.
Richards broke into the small screen with the drama film “Dustbin Baby” (2008), which was based on the work of British novelist Jacqueline Wilson. In the film, she starred as April, a young teen in search of her real mother.