"Acting is what I love to do. I wouldn't trade it for the world. I don't think of it as work. It's really fun for me. And home schooling works out perfectly." Dakota Fanning
Blue-eyed, strawberry blonde-haired child actress Dakota Fanning received rave reviews while portraying Sean Penn's daughter, Lucy Diamond Dawson, in the acclaimed drama, I Am Sam (2001). She later gained more recognition starring with such A-list actors as Mike Myers in The Cat in the Hat (2003), Denzel Washington in Man on Fire (2004), and Robert De Niro in Hide and Seek (2005).
The youngest nominee for a Screen Actors Guild Award (I Am Sam), Dakota is currently preparing for her upcoming film projects, Dreamer (with Kurt Russell), War of the Worlds (alongside Tom Cruise), and Charlotte's Web.
Childhood and Family:
"I like everything perfect. Everything has to be neat. My sister is 5 and she's more messy than I am. I make my bed every morning, everything's perfect. My shoes are all arranged. It's sad." Dakota Fanning
Of Scandinavian descent, Hannah Dakota Fanning was born on the 23rd of February, 1994, in Conyers, Georgia, to parents Steve (an electrician, ex baseball player) and Joy Fanning. Her younger sister is actress Elle Fanning (Because of Winn-Dixie, Daddy Day Care, born on April 9, 1998), with whom Dakota omce role-played with around the house.
"I'm just a normal kid, really. I just love to act." Dakota Fanning
Dakota is home-schooled by her parents and has a teacher who is always with her during filming. The 11-year-old actress, whose favorite movie is Gone With the Wind and favorite actors are Meryl Streep and Hilary Swank, is off-screen, just like any other kid. She loves to play with friends, collect dolls, ride horses, read American history and take ballet. She is also afraid of the dark and always sleeps with her teddy bear.
Hide and Seek
"I've always wanted to be an actress, ever since I was a little girl. I've always played the mom and I play my sister as the daughter. I wanted to be an actress on television and movies instead of just around the house." Dakota Fanning
Realizing their daughter's special talent, Mr. and Mrs. Fanning took Dakota to Atlanta talent agent Joy Pervis. At age five, Dakota landed her first acting work in a Tide detergent commercial. In the next year, she appeared as a guest on a string of TV series, including NBC's hit ER (playing a leukemia patient), Fox's popular Ally McBeal (as 5-year-old Ally), CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, The Practice, Spin City, and Malcolm in the Middle, as well as The Fighting Fitzgeralds.
2001 seemed to be Dakota's breakout year. She received her silver screen debut in Marie Rose's feature film, Father Xmas (starred as army brat Clairee), and appeared in Gregory Poirier's comedy, Tomcats (starring Jerry O'Connell and Shannon Elizabeth). Also in the same year, Dakota achieved critical acclaim for portraying Sean Penn's daughter, Lucy Diamond Dawson, in Jessie Nelson's drama I Am Sam (also starring Michelle Pfeiffer). Her brilliant acting work netted her a Broadcast Film Critic Association Best Young Actress Award, A Golden Satellite for Outstanding New Talent, a Sierra Award, a Las Vegas Film Critics Society Award, and a Young Artist Award. Dakota also became the youngest nominee for a Screen Actors Guild Award when she was nominated at merely 8 years old.
The following year was unstoppable for Dakota. She played important roles in Luis Mandoki's adaptation of Greg Iles' novel, the thriller Trapped (as Charlize Theron's daughter), Andy Tennant's romance-comedy Sweet Home Alabama (playing young Reese Witherspoon), and in Gary J. Tunnicliffe's fantasy Hansel & Gretel (starring Taylor Momsen and Jacob Smith). She also starred as Allison 'Allie' Clarke/Keys in the acclaimed sci-fi miniseries Taken (with Julie Benz and Emily Bergl).
In 2003, Dakota joined with Mike Myers, Alec Baldwin, and Kelly Preston in Bo Welch's adaptation of Dr. Seuss' book, the family fantasy The Cat in the Hat (playing Sally), and Brittany Murphy became her nanny in Boaz Yakin's drama comedy, Uptown Girls. On the small screen, Dakota provided her voice in the TV movie, Kim Possible: A Stitch in Time, as well as making guest appearances in the hit shows: The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Mad TV, Ellen: The Ellen DeGeneres Show, and The Oprah Winfrey Show.
Another praised role came in 2004 when Dakota played guarded child Pita in Tony Scott's adaptation of A.J. Quinnell's crime action novel, Man of Fire (with Denzel Washington as her bodyguard). The role earned her a Young Artist Award nomination. After being cast in Jessica Yu's In the Realms of the Unreal (2004), she subsequently played a role in Rodrigo García's drama Nine Lives (2005, starring Aomawa Baker and Kathy Baker). She also appeared as a guest in the popular sitcom Friends in February of 2004.
"Dakota is a wonderful, special, gifted actress and one of the most professional I've worked with." Robert De Niro
In 2005, Dakota was seen in the starring role of Robert De Niro's daughter, troubled kid Emily, in the box office thriller Hide and Seek (2005). She is now currently busy with her forthcoming films.
Fanning will portray Kurt Russell's daughter in John Gatins' drama Dreamer, Tom Cruise's daughter in Steven Spielberg's adaptation of H.G. Wells' novel, War of the Worlds, and star as Fern in Gary Winick's family fantasy, Charlotte's Web.
"I've been very lucky enough to do all kinds of movies. All the movies that I've done have been very different and all the characters I've done have been very different. I feel very lucky to have been able to do the movies that I've done." Dakota Fanning.
- Broadcast Film Critic Association: Best Young Actor/Actress, I Am Sam, 2002
- Golden Satellite: Outstanding New Talent, I Am Sam, 2002
- Sierra Award: Youth in Film, I Am Sam, 2002
- Young Artist: Best Performance in a Feature Film - Young Actress Age Ten or Under, I Am Sam, 2002
- Las Vegas Film Critics Society, I Am Sam, 2002