On February 23rd, 1994, a little star was born - in Conyers, Georgia, baby Hannah Dakota Fanning made her unassuming entrance into the world. A charming, intelligent child, she "always wanted to be an actress", though her earliest love was ballet. Her dream of becoming an actress was made real in 1999, when the talented five year old was chosen, from thousands of other young hopefuls, to star in a nationwide commercial campaign for Tide dishwashing agent. Several small television roles followed, including a guest appearance as a leukaemia patient on ER, which remains an enduringly favourite character of Dakota's: "I got to wear a neck brace and nose tubes for the two days I worked." She also starred as Clairee in a small independant film called "Father Xmas".
When "I Am Sam" began filming, in early 2001, little Dakota was a tender six years old. This would be the film that would eventually catapault her to stardom around the globe. It brought her not only the overwhelming praise of critics, but also several internationally recognized awards, as well as a slew of adoring fans, who were enchanted by the bright eyed blonde with a soul as wise as the earth is old.
By this time the family had relocated from Georgia to Los Angeles, under the recommendations of an agent who predicted a glittering future for Dakota. She was, in hindsight, quite justified in her prediction - at the age of eight, Dakota became the youngest person in history to receive a nomination for a SAG award. She also won a further four awards for her touching performance as Lucy Diamond Dawson, including the prestigious Broadcast Film Critic Association Award.
Since such amazing onscreen breakthrough, Dakota has been busy as the gorgeous Hollywood "it" kid of today, starring in several blockbuster movies alongside some huge names in entertainment. At seven, she was impressing as Charlize Theron's daughter in "Trapped", which won her the respect of the adult cast and crew - she not only memorized her own lines, but fed the other actors theirs as well. Producer Mimi Polk Gitlin described Dakota as a "little miracle child". Later in that year she also filmed the epic mini-series conceived by Steven Speilberg, "Taken", playing the part of central character Allie Keys.
In 2003, at the age of eight, Dakota starred alongside Brittany Murphy in Uptown Girls. Her elder co-star had nothing but praise for little Dakota, pronouncing her "extremely wise, and so bright, sharp, and intelligent. She's just one of the greatest, most balanced, grounded humans I've ever met in my entire life." In that same year, Dakota filmed the Hollywood adaption of the famed Dr Seuss book, "The Cat in the Hat". She was, again, working with some of the most well known actors in the business, including funnyman Mike Myers, who paid homage to his young co-stars in an appropriately offbeat manner - "She's so sweet you just want to bite her face. Not break the skin - just gnaw," he said of Dakota.
The next role for this blossoming starlet took her all the way to Mexico City, for the film "Man On Fire". As Pita Ramos, Dakota showed astonishing emotional depth and mirrored her imposing co-star, Denzel Washington's every dramatic beat, with a wisdom beyond her years. This film also gave her the opportunity to explore a foreign country (although, as she charmingly admitted in an interview with Jay Leno, the only Mexican food she is game to try is from Del Taco).
When the littlest star in Hollywood celebrated her tenth birthday in February 2004, her popularity among both fans and critics showed little sign of diminishing with age. She recently filmed a co-starring role in the thriller "Hide and Seek" against Robert De Niro, which is due for release in early 2005, and won a slew of rumoured roles in upcoming epics such as "Dreamer", "War of the Worlds", and a re-make of the children's classic "Alice in Wonderland". At the moment, Dakota is preparing to travel across the globe and below the equator to film "Charlotte's Web" on location in Victoria, Australia - an amazing adventure for a girl who has barely hit double figures.
Dakota has always been a bright spark though; born to shine. The gift for performing is in her genes, and running through the veins of her six-year-old sister Elle, whom Dakota shares a room with in their LA home. Though Elle tends to maintain a cheerfully messy portion of the room (Dakota herself is fastidiously neat), the girls relationship is, by their own proclamation, one of pure love. Even though they were born with the ability to summon both tears and laughter from an audience with only their instincts for performing, Dakota and Elle are just normal girls. "When I go home, I play with my baby dolls and strollers and stuffed animals, pretend like they're real dogs," says Dakota. She is a truly special child inside and out - with a life story that has only just begun.