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Dakota Fanning: America‘s Precocious Sweetheart

Full Name Hannah Dakota Fanning
Age 29
Birthday February 23, 1994
Birth Place Conyers, Georgia, United States
Parents Heather Joy (née Arrington) and Steven J. Fanning
Siblings Elle Fanning (older sister)
Relationships Jamie Strachan (2013-2014), Henry Frye (2017-2022)
Children None
Height 5′ 4′′
Net Worth $12 million
Social Media

Dakota Fanning burst onto the Hollywood scene in 2001 at the tender age of 7, impressing audiences and critics alike with her mature and nuanced performance in "I Am Sam" opposite Sean Penn. In the two decades since, the Georgia native has grown up on screen, transforming from a pint-sized phenom to a sophisticated young actress adept at balancing blockbusters with thoughtful indies.

Early Life in Georgia

Hannah Dakota Fanning was born on February 23, 1994 in Conyers, Georgia to Heather Joy (née Arrington) and Steven J. Fanning. Her mother played professional tennis, while her father was a minor league baseball player who later became a salesman.

Dakota was the youngest of three children, with an older brother and sister. Her sister Elle Fanning also became a successful Hollywood actress.

Dakota‘s parents noticed her natural acting talents early on. By age 5, she was enthusiastically re-enacting scenes from her favorite films at home. Her mother began taking her to acting auditions in Atlanta, leading to Dakota booking her first commercial gig for Tide detergent at age 5 alongside Elle.

Breakthrough: 2000-2007

Dakota‘s vivacious charm and uncanny acting instincts quickly landed her bigger roles. In 2000, at age 6, she made her acting debut with guest spots on hit shows like ER, Spin City, and The Practice.

But it was Dakota‘s performance at age 7 in 2001‘s I Am Sam that catapulted her to stardom. As Lucy, the daughter of Sean Penn‘s mentally disabled character fighting for custody, Dakota turned in a heartbreaking performance well beyond her years. She became the youngest actor ever nominated for a Screen Actors Guild Award for the role.

Dakota proved her star turn in I Am Sam was no fluke by taking on a string of diverse, complex roles over the next few years:

  • In 2002‘s Taken, she played the young version of a mother whose daughter is kidnapped by aliens.
  • In 2003‘s Uptown Girls, she carried her first movie as the lead, playing a precocious girl befriending an irresponsible caregiver played by Brittany Murphy.
  • In 2004‘s Man on Fire, she gave an emotional performance as a kidnapped child in Mexico City opposite Denzel Washington‘s hardened bodyguard character.
  • In 2005‘s War of the Worlds, she adeptly balanced childlike innocence and resilience as Tom Cruise‘s daughter fleeing alien invaders.
  • In 2006, she voiced the lead role of Fern in the animated film Charlotte‘s Web, proving her talents translated to voice work as well.
  • In 2007, she took on her most controversial role yet in Hounddog as a troubled girl who finds solace in Elvis Presley‘s music after being sexually assaulted.

Transitioning to More Mature Roles: 2008-2011

As Dakota entered her early teens, she began pivoting to more mature roles:

  • In 2008‘s The Secret Life of Bees, she gave a moving performance as a grieving daughter taken in by three eccentric beekeeping sisters (Queen Latifah, Sophie Okonedo, Alicia Keys).
  • She landed a recurring role as sadistic vampire Jane in The Twilight Saga films (2009-2012) opposite Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson, proving she could hold her own in a blockbuster fantasy franchise.
  • In the 2011 romantic drama Now Is Good, Dakota drew praise for her poignant portrayal of a terminally ill teenage girl experiencing her first love.

During her transition to more adult roles, Dakota briefly attended Campbell Hall School in Los Angeles, attempting to balance work with a somewhat normal high school experience.

Established Dramatic Actress: 2012-Present

As she‘s fully settled into adult roles, Dakota has continued to impress with her versatility and dedication across a spectrum of projects:

  • She reteamed with Tom Cruise in 2013‘s Oblivion, playing his adult daughter decades after War of the Worlds.
  • In the 2014 British period drama Effie Gray, she took on her first adult lead as the repressed young wife of art critic John Ruskin, while also serving as an executive producer.
  • On the hit TNT series The Alienist (2018), she held her own against Daniel Brühl and Luke Evans as an ambitious 19th century secretary.
  • In Quentin Tarantino‘s 2019 film Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, she was perfectly cast as Charles Manson follower Squeaky Fromme.
  • She returned to her indie roots in the 2022 fantasy drama The Strange Ones co-starring Tilda Swinton.

Now 29, Dakota has crafted an unparalleled career spanning over two decades in the spotlight. While she has largely kept her personal life private, she remains admired by fans and peers alike for her abundant talent and professional dedication to her craft. With such a strong start, the future surely holds more great roles for Dakota Fanning.

5 Fascinating Dakota Fanning Facts

  • Dakota started acting professionally at age 5 in a Tide commercial with her sister Elle.
  • At age 8, she became the youngest actress ever nominated for a Screen Actors Guild Award for I Am Sam.
  • She was accepted to New York University at age 17, attending from 2011-2014 while continuing to act.
  • In addition to acting, Dakota has worked behind the camera as an executive producer on 2014‘s Effie Gray.
  • She wrote a memoir in 2017 titled Between Two Worlds: My Life in the Spotlight.

Frequently Asked Questions

When is Dakota Fanning‘s birthday?

Dakota Fanning was born on February 23, 1994 in Conyers, Georgia. She is currently 29 years old.

What is Dakota Fanning‘s net worth?

Dakota Fanning has an estimated net worth of $12 million dollars. The bulk of her wealth has come from her acting roles and endorsements over her prolific three decade career.

Is Dakota Fanning related to Elle Fanning?

Yes, Dakota and Elle Fanning are sisters. Elle, born in 1998, is Dakota‘s older sister and also an accomplished actress known for roles in films like Super 8, Maleficent, and The Great.

What was Dakota Fanning‘s breakthrough role?

Dakota Fanning‘s breakthrough role was in the 2001 film I Am Sam at age 7. Her mature and nuanced performance as the daughter of Sean Penn‘s intellectually disabled character earned her critical acclaim and a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination.

What are some of Dakota Fanning‘s most notable roles?

Some of Dakota Fanning‘s most notable roles include Uptown Girls (2003), Man on Fire (2004), War of the Worlds (2005), Charlotte‘s Web (2006), Hounddog (2007), The Twilight Saga (2009-2012), The Alienist (2018), and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019).