Dakota Mayi Johnson (born October 4, 1989) is an American actress and model. She is best known for her starring role as Anastasia Steele in the Fifty Shades film series (2015-2018). For her performances in the series, she received the People’s Choice Award for Favorite Dramatic Movie Actress and a BAFTA Rising Star Award nomination, among others.
Johnson made her acting debut in the film Crazy in Alabama (1999). She held supporting roles in the films The Social Network (2010), Beastly (2011), 21 Jump Street (2012), The Five-Year Engagement (2012), and Need for Speed (2014). Following her Fifty Shades success, Johnson appeared in the crime biopic Black Mass (2015), Luca Guadagnino’s drama A Bigger Splash (2015), the comedy film How to Be Single (2016), Guadagnino’s horror film Suspiria (2018), and the thriller film Bad Times at the El Royale (2018).
She is the daughter of actors Melanie Griffith and Don Johnson, and her maternal grandmother is actress Tippi Hedren.
1999–2014: Career beginnings
In 1999, Johnson made her film debut in Crazy in Alabama 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. 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.
In 2006, Johnson signed with IMG Models. Though acting is her primary work, she has since modeled for MANGO brand’s jeans line in 2009 and shot the “Rising Star” campaign for Australian fashion label Wish in 2011.
Once Johnson graduated from high school, she signed with the William Morris Agency and started her acting career. She appeared in the critically acclaimed box office hit The Social Network which was directed by David Fincher. She has also appeared in Beastly, Ezna Sands’ film Chloe and Theo, and So Yong Kim’s film For Ellen. In 2012, she had roles in Christopher Neil’s film Goats, with David Duchovny; Nicholas Stoller’s film The Five-Year Engagement for producer Judd Apatow, and the film 21 Jump Street. She also played the female lead in Chris Nelson’s film Date and Switch written by Alan Yang.
In March 2012, Johnson was cast as Kate in the Fox comedy series Ben and Kate, marking her television debut. The show was cancelled on January 25, 2013 after one season. Johnson quickly resumed her film career, with a small role in Need for Speed (2014). She also has been cast in the modern-day film adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Cymbeline. In 2013, she had a role as one of the new hires on the series finale episode of the comedy series The Office.
2015–present: Breakthrough and success
Johnson received recognition and success when she starred as Anastasia “Ana” Steele in the romantic drama film Fifty Shades of Grey, which was released in February 2015. Johnson 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 series, Johnson 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, Johnson appeared on Saturday Night Live’s 40th anniversary special and hosted SNL on February 28, 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 cast member Johnny Depp, playing the mother of his character’s child in the feature film Black Mass.
In 2015, Johnson starred in Luca Guadagnino’s thriller A Bigger Splash, opposite Tilda Swinton, Matthias Schoenaerts and Ralph Fiennes. She also played a lead in the 2016 comedy How to Be Single, with Leslie Mann and her Date and Switch costar Nicholas Braun.
Johnson trained in ballet to prepare for Luca Guadagnino’s 2018 remake of Suspiria, a horror film. Also in 2018, she starred in the thriller Bad Times at the El Royale, with Chris Hemsworth, Jon Hamm and Jeff Bridges, for writer-director Drew Goddard.
Johnson is set to appear in the 2019 independent feature film The Peanut Butter Falcon, with Bruce Dern and Shia LaBeouf. She will also reunite with her The Social Network costar Armie Hammer in the psychological horror film Wounds, which is set for release in 2019. The film, which is an adaptation of Nathan Ballingrud’s horror novella “The Visible Filth”, was written and directed by Babak Anvari. Johnson will then star in and executive produce several films under her Silhouette Productions: Forever, Interrupted, where she will play a young widow, and Unfit, where she will play Carrie Buck in a fact-based 1920s courtroom drama based on the book Imbeciles: The Supreme Court, American Eugenics, and the Sterilization of Carrie Buck by Adam Cohen, and Queens of the Stoned Age.