In Conyers, Georiga, on the 23rd of February, 1994, Steve and Joy Fanning welcomed their first child, Hannah Dakota Fanning into the world. Being professional sports players themselves, the couple had no idea that in the next few years, their daughter would be capturing audiences all over the world through performance.
Dakota was a very intelligent, happy wee dot, learning to read at the age of two and sporting a pair of ballet shoes from a very young age, it was clear there was a special something about her. She “always wanted to be an actress”, stuffing a pillow up her shirt and ‘giving birth’ to her younger sister Elle, and performing at school. At the age of 5 in 1999, Dakota’s first acting job was for a Tide dishwashing detergent commercial, which was to be aired nationwide. And the rest, they say, is history.
The following year, 2000, Dakota lent her talent to six television shows. She played a leukaemia patient in the very popular “E.R”, (one of Dakota’s favourite roles to date, she only worked for two days but she loved wearing the neck brace and nose tubes), as well as appearances in “Ally McBeal”, “Strong Medicine”, “C.S.I”, “The Practice” and “Spin City”.
Dakota’s first movie was “Father Xmas”, a short film about a young girl, Clairee (Dakota), who wants her father to come home for Christmas. The writer/director of “Father Xmas” knew at the time that Dakota was going to have an amazing career ahead of her. Her prediction was right. As well as another movie “Tomcats”, Dakota appeared on TV some more- “Malcolm in the Middle”, “The Fighting Fitzgeralds”, “Family Guy” and “The Ellen Show”. But 2001 was a very special year for Dakota. She was cast as Lucy Diamond Dawson in the emotional rollercoaster that is “I Am Sam”, a movie where a mentally retarded man (played by Sean Penn) is seen unfit to care for his 7-year-old daughter Lucy, and he does everything he can to fight for custody. Through the ups, downs and pure love of this father-daughter relationship, and how their lives touch others throughout the movie, bright-eyed Dakota won thousands of fans, as well as a name for herself in Hollywood.
2002 was another big year for Dakota- she starred alongside Charlize Theron and Kevin Bacon in “Trapped”, she remembered her own lines as well as everyone elses! Her role as Allie Keys in the Steven Spielberg mini-series “Taken” was another tear-jerker, and Dakota’s fanbase was growing rapidly.
In 2003, New York, Brittany Murphy and a small pig met Dakota in “Uptown Girls”. Brittany said she couldn’t get over how professional and intelligent Dakota was, and the two shared a special friendship while filming. Another comedy for Dakota was the movie production of the popular childrens’ book “The Cat in the Hat”, which just so happened to be a favourite of Dakota’s- she often read the book to Elle when they were younger. Mike Myers and Alec Baldwin appeared alongside her.
Up next was a role that took Dakota to Mexico city. She had to have bodyguards with her all the time, which ironically was what this role was all about- Dakota played Lupita ‘Pita’ Ramos, a young girl who is kidnapped for ransom. Denzel Washington plays her bodyguard, and he devotes his time to finding her and bringing her home safely. Dakota also took time to ‘hate her parents’ alongside Matt LeBlanc , who ‘hates his friends’ in “Friends”, which is her latest TV guest apperance to date.
Dakota loves diversity. She likes to choose challenging roles and tries to learn as much as she possibly can on every project she does. Her fans got a glimpse of a very different Dakota in 2005. As Emily Callaway, Robert (or ‘Bob’, as Dakota says everyone calls him) DeNiro takes his daughter upstate away from the chaos of the city in “Hide and Seek”, after her mother commits suicide. A dark-haired, dark character emerges as Dakota frightened audiences all over the world. At the same time, now the frightened one herself, the Ferrier family are fleeing their home to find shelter and answers in “War of the Worlds”, where Dakota teamed up with Steven Speilburg once more, and formed a special bond with Tom Cruise. The movie was a global phenomenon, with premieres in Japan, Europe and America, Dakota was rushed off her feet with little time to rest- but it’s okay, Dakota loves to promote her movies, see the cast again, talk about filming and laugh together again. As well as these two fantastic movies, 2005 ended with “Dreamer”, where a family is bought together again through a ‘magic horse’.
In 2006, Dakota travelled all the way to Australia to film another movie adaptation of a much-loved childrens’ book- “Charlotte’s Web”. And although known for its’ creepy-crawlies and spiders, Dakota didn’t see any spiders at all, “I guess I was lucky” she proclaims. And with all the media buzz about the brilliant film, Dakota’s next project would be her first taste of controversy- “Hounddog”. A pleasant enough storyline, a young girl finds solace through the music of Elvis Presley. However a certain scene were Dakota’s character is raped was the talk of the town at its’ release. The media made vicious comments about this, but Dakota continued to hold her head high like the strong girl she is, as did the rest of the film crew, cast and her family.
Up next for Dakota are more projects which she can share her talent with and continue doing what she loves. All currently scheduled for a 2008 release, are movies “Coraline”, Winged Creatures”, “Hurricane Mary” and “Push”. “Push” is taking Dakota all the way to Hong Kong for filming in September 2007.
When Dakota isn’t juggling scripts, pens for autographs and her passport, she is a dear little 13 year old girl who lives at home with her parents and sister Elle in their Los Angeles home. Amoung Dakota’s hobbies are knitting (she has made a fair few scarfs in her time, for co-stars and her family!), playing the piano and violin, dancing ballet and painting her horse Goldie’s hoofs glitter pink. She spends a lot of time with Elle- they are the closest of friends, although Elle is considerably messier than the tidy Dakota.
She loves to learn, be it her tutour on set or at home, there’s no end to what Dakota can sink her teeth into, she’s currently learning French and Spanish. There is no doubt we’ll be seeing lots of of Dakota in the future, through more performances that touch our hearts and interviews that make us giggle along with her. Dakota isn’t going anywhere- “I want to act for the rest of my life!”
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