A Primer on Dakota Johnson, 50 Shades’ New Star

Dakota Johnson.
Dakota Johnson. Photo: Michael Tran/Getty Images

Yesterday, director Sam Taylor-Johnson finally announced the cast for her film adaptation of 50 Shades of Grey. The female lead, naive college grad Anastasia Steele, will be played by 23-year-old Dakota Johnson, daughter of Melanie Griffith and Miami Vice’s Don Johnson. She’s relatively little-known compared to her competitors, who supposedly included Emma Watson, Alexis Bledel, and Shailene Woodley. But don’t worry, she’ll be all over magazine covers and red carpets before you know it. Here’s a cheat sheet on the star of 2014’s most hyped movie; get ready to see lots of her.

Born: October 4, 1989, in Austin, Texas
Age: 23 
Education: Aspen Community School in Colorado, New Roads School in L.A. 
Principal Residence: Los Angeles

Parents: Her mother is actress Melanie Griffith, daughter of actress Tippi Hedren and the late ad executive Peter Griffith. Dakota’s father, Don Johnson, is famous for his role as Sonny Crockett in Miami Vice. He married Melanie twice, the first time for seven months when she was only 18, and the second time after they had Dakota in 1989. They divorced again in 1996. Later that year, Melanie married Antonio Banderas, making him Dakota’s stepfather.

Other Family Members: Dakota has a younger half-sister from her mom’s current marriage, Stella Banderas, 17, and an older half-brother, Alexander Bauer, 28, from another of her mom’s previous marriages. She also has four half-siblings on her dad’s side. She’s also the niece of actress Tracy Griffith.

Friends: Riley Keough, daughter of Lisa Marie Presley. As a child, she supposedly hung out with Rumer Willis, although they’ve since “lost touch.”

Why She Might Look Familiar: Dakota began her career as a model, appearing in a Teen Vogue shoot featuring children of celebrities when she was 12. She was signed by IMG Models when she was 18, and subsequently appeared in ad campaigns for Mango, Uniqlo, and Oliver Peoples. She was named one of Nylon magazine’s “55 Faces of the Future” in their May 2010 “Young Hollywood” issue.

Why She Probably Looks Familiar: She played Justin Timberlake’s one-night stand in The Social Network (the girl who wore panties with “Stanford” printed across the butt). She had a lead part in the short-lived 2012 Fox show Ben and Kate. She’s also appeared in the following films: 21 Jump Street (2012), The Five Year Engagement (2012), and Beastly (2011).

Signature Style: Old Hollywood glamour. She prefers simple monochrome outfits in black, white, and red, often with tuxedo detailing (in one case she wore an actual tuxedo, bow tie and all). For major red carpets, she’ll go for a backless gown; she’s a fan of statement jackets — fur, military-inspired, or satin-trimmed — with a red lip. But she has a racy side, too, as evidenced by the occasional lacy getup with visible bra.

What She’ll “Open Up About” in Interviews: In September 2007, she completed a 30-day inpatient rehab program at the Visions Teen Treatment Center in Malibu for drug and alcohol addiction. She also participated in an outpatient program in Brentwood.

Occasionally Mistaken For: Meryl Streep’s daughter Mamie Gummer.

A Primer on Dakota Johnson, 50 Shades’ New Star