It’s pretty safe to say that no teen has a more impressive resumé than Dakota Fanning: At the age of 8, she became the youngest person to be nominated for a Screen Actors Guild Award for her performance in I Am Sam. She has more than 20 films under her belt, and has worked with such Hollywood legends as Sean Penn, Michelle Pfeiffer, Robert De Niro, Reese Witherspoon, Denzel Washington and Tom Cruise.
And as if that weren’t enough, this 15-year-old dynamo has now added cheerleading to her list of accomplishments. After several years of being home-schooled, Dakota made her way to a private school in L.A. last year and immediately decided she wanted to show her spirit. “I wanted to have the experience of being a cheerleader and supporting my school and all that’s involved with that,” Dakota says. “It was really such a great decision for me, and I’m so glad that I joined.”
Read on as Dakota dishes about her crazy cheer life:
AC: What do you like most about cheer?
Dakota: I love stunting! I’m a flyer and I just love that. Also, you make so many friends in cheerleading. Sometimes it’s a long way to games, and we have to travel for hours on a bus, and you kind of bond with your teammates. I think that’s really nice.
AC: What is it about stunting that you love so much?
Dakota: You know it really came naturally to me when I first started doing it. It’s probably my most favorite thing about cheerleading—I’m the one who’s always like, ‘OK, let’s stunt now.’ I really love doing toe touch Baskets.
AC: What’s surprised you most about being a cheerleader.
Dakota: Even if you have different friends when you go to school, when you become a cheerleader, you’re all in it together. And then you’re friends with this person through that person because of cheerleading. I think that’s great. Sometimes schools have those set groups, and I think being involved in a sport brings people from different groups together.
AC: What do you think is unique about cheerleading?
Dakota: In cheer, even if you’re down by 30 points, you still have to keep everyone pumped up and excited and show your school spirit for fans in the stands. You just always have to maintain a positive attitude.
AC: In your movie Push, you have super powers. If you could have any super power, what would you choose?
Dakota: In Push, I can see the future. But I think for me, I’d like to be able to fly or be invisible.
AC: Are there any fun facts about yourself that you can share?
Dakota: Up until a few months ago, I probably would have said that I was a cheerleader, but now everyone knows that. A lot of people are surprised that I actually go to a normal school and that I’m allowed to be a cheerleader there.
*For Dakota’s full interview, pick up the June 2009 issue of American Cheerleader magazine, on newsstands now.