Born and raised in a family of celebrities, it was no surprise that Dakota Johnson turned out to be a star herself. Best known as an actress and fashion model, her feature in 'Fifty Shades of Grey' elevated her stardom status and fan base. Although she is yet to clinch the most aspired international fame recognition, Dakota is heading there thanks to her determination and ambitious nature.
Born in Austin, Texas, Dakota Maya Johnson grew up surrounded by celebrities within her own household. Her mother Melanie Griffith and father Don Johnson were Hollywood veterans who actually met through their work. Dakota’s maternal grandmother Tippi Hedren was also a Golden Globe winning actress back in the days while her grandfather Peter Griffith worked as an advertising executive.
Dakota’s parents divorced in 1996 and both of them remarried soon afterwards; Don Johnson to a Montessori teacher and Melanie to film director Antonio Banderas. The beauty queen has six step siblings from her parent’s later marriages. From her paternal side, Dakota has Jesse Johnson, Jasper, Grace and Deacon. From Melanie’s second marriage, she has Stella Banderas and Alexander Bauer born from her mother’s marriage to Steven Bauer. One of Dakota’s step brothers, Jesse Johnson is also an actor.
In her early years, Johnson attended Aspen Community School in Colorado before enrolling to Santa Catalina School in California for high school education. Later, Dakota transferred after two years of study and joined the prestigious New Roads School in Santa Monica, California. Her motivation to join the new school was the number of celebrities New Roads had previously produced, some of which include Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Hudson and Jonah Hill. Additionally, exposure to the highly cultured environment helped Dakota prepare to deal with people from different backgrounds. During her school years, Johnson loved acting and the passion persisted after she completed her studies.
As a young girl, Dakota was an enthusiastic dancer and this inspired her to become a star. On many occasions, she would accompany her mother to movie premiers and Hollywood events and this further elevated her love for stardom. At the age of 12, her dream came true after she attended a photo shoot session for Teen Vogue alongside other child stars.
However, Johnson’s life as a teenager was quite challenging. Although most people would expect a luxurious life considering her parents had already found incredible Hollywood success, it was not the case with this American actress. Her parents were quarreling every now and then, and these battles somehow found their way into magazines and newspapers. Sadly, kids at school would bring her clippings to bully and tease her about it. All this pressure caused Dakota deep stress to the extent of being checked into a rehab for therapy at 17 years old.
In 1999, Dakota appeared in her debut film Crazy in Alabama playing the daughter of her real mother Melanie. She acted alongside her step sister Stella and the film was directed by her step father, Antonio Banderes. Although the film gave Dakota an experience in the film industry, it wasn’t a hit as expected.
After completing her high school studies, Dakota’s interests instantly changed to acting thanks to the many years she had spent watching works from her parents. She signed a contract with the esteemed William Morris Agency and her professional career in acting took shape almost immediately.
Dakota’s career started after she completed high school. Given her upbringing in an acting family, Dakota did not have major ups and downs navigating the industry at the beginning. In 2006, her stardom status commenced after she was voted Miss Golden Globe. Dakota therefore made history for being the first second generation model since her mother was Miss Golden Globe in 1975. The status did wonders to her budding career as it immediately landed Dakota some modeling contracts. She was approached by IMG models with whom she signed a contract. Given her tall, waif-ish look and a cute face as a bonus, Dakota’s modeling career started immediately after the agreement. She was first hired by MANGO Jean’s line in 2009. She also travelled to Sydney, where she shot for the Australian fashion label Wish’s rising star campaign. Other labels that hired Dakota included Uniquelo and Oliver Peoples.
Dakota then took a break from modeling and focused on acting instead. She had her first film The Social Network in 2010 playing character Amelia Ritter, a Stanford College student, alongside Justin Timberlake. The dramatic film explored the founding of the social network Facebook and the resulting lawsuits from the website. Beyond her expectations, the film became a box office success garnering eight Oscar nominations. Johnson had taken a controversial role of being Sean Parker’s one night stand.
Following the success of The Social Network, Dakota landed additional roles in other films including Beastly, Chloe and Theo and For Ellen.
In 2012, she was hired in Nicholas Stroller’s American comedy film The Five Year Engagement where she portrayed character Audrey, an interesting character obsessed with sex and dancing. Soon after, she played Fugazy in the action comedy film 21 Jump Street before landing roles in Goats and a female lead in Date and Switch playing as Em, Matty’s ex girlfriend.
That same year, Johnson appeared in her television debut sitcom Ben and Kate as a lead character for 16 episodes. She played a young single mother raising her daughter with the assistance of an older but stupid brother. Although the series was cancelled after airing on Fox for a single season, her lead role was positively reviewed by critics.
Dakota’s admirable acting prowess was starting to get the notice of high profile filmmakers and directors. In 2014, she featured in Need for Speed as a lead character opposite Aaron Paul. Soon after, she landed a role in Shakespeare’s adaptation romantic comedy, Cymberlane playing the role of Imogen, the daughter of the title character.
Her best role of a lifetime came in 2015 after she featured in the erotic romance film Fifty Shades of Grey. Her lead role as Anastasia Steele, a young student at Washington State University further elevated her to fame hence boosting Dakota’s commercial success. The film was a big hit grossing $571 million globally against an initial budget of $40 million. Dakota’s performance further saw her win the People’s Choice Award for Favorite Dramatic Movie Actress. She was also nominated by the British Academy Film Awards for the Rising Star Award category.
Shortly after the release of Fifty Shades of Grey, Dakota hosted the popular Saturday Night Live in February 2015. The privilege made her the second daughter of a former host to host the show; the first one being Gwyneth Paltrow whose mother hosted the show in 1985.
In the same month, Dakota was pleasured to grace the cover of Vogue magazine mainly because of her growing fan base since the release of Fifty Shades of Grey.
She then appeared opposite Johnny Depp to film the biopic film Black Mass which focuses on the notorious Boston mob leader called Whitey Bulger. Dakota plays a challenging role of a mother who loses her son.
Following a recommendation from Sam Taylor, the director of Fifty Shades of Grey, Johnson was cast in the average performing thriller A Bigger Splash. She played as Penelope Lanier the daughter of Harry Hawkes. The film was positively reviewed by critics and that was a plus for Dakota.
In 2016, Dakota was hired for a lead role in the romantic comedy How to be Single. She starred alongside Leslie Mann and Nicholas Braun her co-actor in Date and Switch. Johnson plays as Alice, a young lady who dumps her boyfriend and moves to New York City to be a paralegal.
In 2016, she started training as a ballet dancer in preparation for Luca Guadagnino’s remake of Suspria. The Italian horror film is set for a theatrical release in 2017 and Dakota will star alongside Chloe Grace Moretz and Tilda Swinton.
Johnson was also set to appear in the crime thriller Under the Silver Lake set to be released later in 2017 but dropped out of the role which was taken over by Riley Keough.
As for upcoming projects, the Texas born actress is set to co-star in the film Forever Interrupted where she will be playing the role of a young widow. She has also reprised her role as Anna in Fifty Shades Darker in 2017, and will do the same for Fifty Shades Freed in 2018.
Dakota has a reputation of being quiet and hence not outspoken unless she’s acting. However, she does not keep quiet on criticism and insults made against her. Following her controversial role as Anna in Fifty Shades of Grey, several critics have regarded Dakota as a weak and victimized character. Johnson has however come strongly to defend Anna stating that she is actually fearless and stronger than she appears. Additionally, Dakota notes that, were she a women advocate, she would allow women to do what they want with their bodies without feeling ashamed.
Although Johnson is not notable for philanthropy works, she has been involved in several humanitarian causes where she has given some donations. In 2015, Dakota and her mother hosted an Aspen fundraiser aimed at benefiting Action in Africa foundation charity. The foundation has previously helped empower Ugandan people through its main focus; education and community development.
Despite Johnson’s wide fan base, she recently deleted her Instagram account and stopped posting personal pictures on social media. Jamie Dornan her co-star in Fifty Shades of Grey had also deleted both his Twitter and Instagram accounts some months earlier and it was rumored that he might have influenced her decision. However, Dakota stated that her action was attributed to the negative comments from internet trolls she frequently received.
Although Dakota is barely 30-years old, she has been involved in several unsuccessful relationships. She was initially involved in a relationship with musician Noah Gersh. The two however didn’t last long and they split up. Soon afterwards, Johnson fell in love with actor Jordan Masterson. The two were in a relationship for a long time and it was rumored that they would end up tying the knot. Sadly, they broke up and the American chic started dating singer Matthew Hitt in 2014 of whom she broke up with in 2016.
It has been rumored that Johnson is secretly dating co-star Jamie Dornan after the two have been spotted in compromising situations. Jamie has however strongly condemned those speculating about the alleged love affair, starting he is happily married to someone else.
Dakota also states that she has not yet found her right match to get married to. Even then, when she finally settles down, she hopes to have children to fully complete her life.
Melanie and her daughter have always had a good mother-daughter relationship further made better by their similar line of profession. However, on some occasions, Dakota’s relationship with her mother Melanie has been questioned. During an interview at the Academy Awards, Melanie stated that she had never watched her daughter’s film Fifty Shades of Grey and was not purposing to do it any sooner. Even then, in a recent interview with The Mirror, Dakota states that Fifty Shades Darker has a surprise tribute for her mom. She therefore hopes that Melanie watches that specific clip.
In 2007, it was reported that Johnson had checked in rehab for drug and alcohol addiction. The Fifty Shades of Grey star came clear to the rumors indicating that, her 30-day admission at the Visions Teen Treatment Center in Malibu California had nothing to do with drug rehabilitation. Her admission was for therapy as a teenager due to family conflicts she had had with her parents. She also urged the press to get facts right instead of rushing to give untrue information.
Written by: Peris Ngaruiya