People have said Dakota's an old soul, but she doesn't see it that way. "I just think of myself as me, you know?" she says. "I love what I do and I am so lucky that I get to do it and that people enjoy it."
Born in Conyers, Georgia, Dakota's parents saw something special in their daughter right away. She learned to read at age 2 and started first grade when she was just 4 years old. She began acting at a local playhouse in preschool and landed a national Tide laundry detergent commercial one year later.
Dakota's big break came when she won the role of Lucy opposite Sean Penn in I Am Sam. Audiences fell in love with the 7-year-old instantly, and she was nominated for Best Supporting Actress at the Screen Actors Guild Awards, making her the youngest ever to receive that honor.
Dakota's such a pro that Charlotte's Web director Gary Winick says having her on the set made his life easier. "She's so unbelievably truthful and connected to the experience and her character," he says. "That just inspires me. ... It's a gift."