Dakota Mayi Johnson
Date and Place of Birth
October 4, 1989
Austin, Texas, USA
5′ 7½” (1.71m)
Dakota Mayi Johnson was born on October 4, 1989, at Brackenridge Hospital in Austin, Texas, to actors Melanie Griffith and Don Johnson. At the time of her birth, her father was shooting the film The Hot Spot in Texas. Her maternal grandparents are advertising executive and former child actor Peter Griffith and actress Tippi Hedren; and her aunt is Tracy Griffith. Her former stepfather is actor Antonio Banderas. She has six half-siblings named Alexander Bauer, Stella Banderes, Jesse Johnson, Deacon Johnson and Grace Johnson.
Because of her parents’ work, Dakota spent the majority of her childhood in various locations with them on film sets. though she spent extended amounts of time in Aspen and Woody Creek, Colorado, where she worked during summers at the local market as a teenager. “I was so consistently unmoored and discombobulated. I didn’t have an anchor anywhere,” Dakota recalled. At an early age, she was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and changed schools seven times.
In 1999, Dakota made her film debut in Crazy in Alabama (1999) where she and her sister Stella Banderas played daughters to their real-life mother, Melanie Griffith. The film was directed by her then-stepfather, Antonio Banderas.
Dakota became interested in modelling at the age of 12 following a photoshoot with children of other celebrities for Teen Vogue. She subsequently earned an income modelling while attending high school in Santa Monica. Dakota said she was interested in acting as a child, having spent significant time on film sets with her parents, but they discouraged her from pursuing it until she finished high school.
In 2006, she was chosen as Miss Golden Globe 2006, where she served as the first second-generation Miss Golden Globe in the Globes’ history. She then signed with IMG Models.
Once Dakota graduated from high school, she took acting classes with teacher Tom Todoroff. She signed with the William Morris Agency. She appeared in a minor role as Amelia Ritter in the Oscar-nominated hit film The Social Network (2010), directed by David Fincher. She had a small role in the fantasy film Beastly (2011), followed by So Yong Kim’s drama For Ellen (2012). She then went on to appear in Christopher Neil’s independent comedy Goats (2012), portraying a student at a prep school; Nicholas Stoller’s romantic comedy The Five-Year Engagement (2012); the comedy 21 Jump Street (2012); and was cast as the female lead in Chris Nelson’s film Date and Switch (2014) written by Alan Yang.
In March 2012, Dakota was cast as Kate in the Fox comedy series Ben & Kate (2012-2013), marking her television debut. The show was cancelled on January 25, 2013 after one season. She immediately returned to film, with a small role in Need for Speed (2014). In 2013, she had a role as one of the new hires on the series finale episode of the NBC comedy series The Office (2013). During 2014 Cymbeline (2014) was released, a modern film adaptation of the William Shakespeare play, in which she starred opposite Ethan Hawke and Ed Harris.
Dakota’s breakthrough came when she starred as Anastasia “Ana” Steele in the erotic romantic drama film Fifty Shades of Grey (2015), which brought her international recognition. Dakota won the role over Lucy Hale, Felicity Jones, Elizabeth Olsen, Danielle Panabaker and Shailene Woodley. In answer to questions regarding her stance on gender rights with respect to her role in the Fifty Shades film series, Dakota said: “I’m proud of [the movie]. I completely disagree with people who think Ana’s weak. I think she’s actually stronger than he is. Everything she does is her choice. And if I can be an advocate for women to do what they want to do with their bodies and not be ashamed of what they want, then I’m all for that.”
On February 15, 2015, Dakota hosted the 40th anniversary special of Saturday Night Live (2015), making her the second daughter of a former SNL host (after Gwyneth Paltrow, whose mother Blythe Danner hosted during the show’s seventh season in 1982) to host the show. Also in 2015, she reunited with her 21 Jump Street (2012) cast member Johnny Depp, playing the mother of his character’s child in the feature film Black Mass (2015). In 2015, Dakota starred in Luca Guadagnino’s thriller A Bigger Splash (2015), opposite Tilda Swinton, Matthias Schoenaerts and Ralph Fiennes. She also played a lead in the 2016 comedy How to Be Single (2016), with Leslie Mann and her Date and Switch co-star Nicholas Braun.
Dakota trained in dance to prepare for Luca Guadagnino’s Suspiria (2018), a supernatural horror film and remake of the 1977 film by Dario Argento, in which she plays an American dancer in Berlin who enrolls in an academy run by a coven of witches. David Ehrlich of IndieWire described Johnson’s performance in the film as “thrillingly unrepentant”. Also in 2018, she starred in Drew Goddard’s neo-noir thriller Bad Times at the El Royale (2018), with Jeff Bridges, Jon Hamm and Chris Hemsworth.
In 2019, Dakota starred in the psychological horror film, Wounds (2019), opposite Armie Hammer, directed by Babak Anvari, based upon a horror novella The Visible Filth by Nathan Ballingrud. She starred in the well-reviewed independent adventure film, The Peanut Butter Falcon (2019), opposite Shia LaBeouf and Bruce Dern. She further starred in the drama film Our Friend (2019), opposite Casey Affleck and Jason Segel, and directed by Gabriela Cowperthwaite. The film is based upon real-life couple Nicole and Matthew Teague, faced with Nicole’s impending death, see their best friend move in with them to help them out.
Dakota launched the production company TeaTime Pictures, alongside former Netflix development executive Ro Donnelly, to develop feature film and television projects. In 2020, Dakota made her directorial debut, co-directing (with Cory Bailey) the music video for Coldplay’s Cry Cry Cry (2020). Dakota starred alongside Tracee Ellis Ross in the comedy-drama film The High Note (2020). Her performance was seen as “maybe her best and certainly most lovable performance” according to the Chicago Sun Times.
In 2021, Dakota starred in the The Lost Daughter (2021) which was directed by Maggie Gyllenhaal and based upon the novel of the same name by Elena Ferrante. She went on to play Domino in Cha Cha Real Smooth (2021) and Lucy in Am I OK? (2021). She has been cast as Anne Elliot in Persuasion (2022) which is set to release in 2022 and has an unknown role in the project Daddio.
Updated February 25, 2022.