Dakota Blue Richards

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Dakota Blue Richards
Dakota Blue Richards portrait, 2012 (tone crop).jpg
Richards in 2012
Born (1994-04-11) 11 April 1994 (age 24)
South Kensington, London, England
Years active2006–present

Dakota Blue Richards (born 11 April 1994)[1] is an English actress. Her debut was in the film The Golden Compass, as the lead character Lyra Belacqua.[2][3] She was cast as the lead of two other films: Dustbin Baby, as wayward teenager April, and The Secret of Moonacre, as Maria, the latter of which was released February 2009.[4] She also played the character Franky Fitzgerald in the third generation of the E4 teen drama Skins.[5]

Early life[edit]

Richards was born at the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital in South Kensington, London. She was named Dakota Blue because her mother wanted a combination of a place and a colour.[1] The family moved to Sussex where she attended Newlands School. At school, she took very few drama classes and she was not an active participant in class assemblies or school plays; she missed out on the part of Mary in the nativity play.[1] Nonetheless, throughout primary school, she attended weekend drama classes and took time out of school to attend auditions. She finished at St Paul's Primary School, then began attending Blatchington Mill School in Hove and the K-Bis Theatre School.[1][6]


The Golden Compass[edit]

When she was nine years old, Richards had the His Dark Materials books read to her by her mother, feeling that she could "be her".[1] After she saw the stage adaptation at the National Theatre, she says she "just wanted to be Lyra".[7][8] Philip Pullman, author of the books, said, "As soon as I saw Dakota's screen test, I realised that the search was over."[9] Chris Weitz, the director, added that Richards "made what should have been an extremely difficult decision quite easy."[9] The Golden Compass with Richards as Lyra was released worldwide in December 2007 and grossed $372 million.

During filming, Richards received private tutoring from two tutors on set,[10] noting that, despite the rigorous schedule, "I think I actually improved academically... ."[1]

Richards' performance in The Golden Compass was variously described as "efficient",[11] "a decent job",[12] "nicely played",[13] and "enchanting." One review called the selection of Richards' for the role of Lyra "terrific casting".[14] Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian commented that; "Lyra is nicely played by 13-year-old newcomer Dakota Blue Richards, though with an Artful Dodger-ish 'urchin' accent that comes and goes a bit",[13] while Empire noted that she "struggles with lumpy dialogue".[12] Pulitzer Prize-winning critic Roger Ebert was more effusive, calling Richards "a delightful find" who was "pretty, plucky, forceful, self-possessed, charismatic and just about plausible as the mistress of an armoured bear and the protector of Dust."[15]


Richards played Franky Fitzgerald—a clever but timid and isolated teenager—in series five and six of the E4 teen drama Skins, which premiered on 27 January 2011. Originally she auditioned for the role of Liv Malone, and only became Franky at the very end of the audition process.[16] As a member of the third generation of its young cast, which was first revealed on 5 August 2010, Richards said "It's crazy to be part of this Skins phenomenon, it's as much a lifestyle choice as anything because of the attention that comes with it." In her second series of the show, her character Franky changed dramatically, becoming a self-destructive and impassioned rebel.


In this full-length film Richards plays a protagonist's sister-in-law, cajoled into acting the role of author of a chick-lit novel written by four patrons of a local pub in Norfolk. The character, Zoe, demands £500 a week for as long as the four true authors need her. Her performance required a range of emotional portrayals as the actress moves from depression into full control of this unlikely position as a masquerading author. The film is an erotic British comedy.[17]

Continuing roles[edit]

Richards (left) as April with Marion (played by Juliet Stevenson) in Dustbin Baby
Richards in Dustbin Baby

Before The Golden Compass was released, Richards had already been cast as the lead in another film, The Secret of Moonacre, her second book-to-film adaption, in which she would play Maria Merryweather from the book 'The Little White Horse'. Principal photography took place between early October and late November 2007.[18][19] The film was released February 2009.[4]

In December 2008, Richards played April Johnson in Dustbin Baby, the BBC dramatisation of the Jacqueline Wilson novel of the same name. She said that April was a difficult character to play, as "she is a really different person to me. On the one hand, she does go through normal things that I can relate to, such as fighting with your parents or getting presents you don't like; but on the other, she has had such a hard life."[20]

Richards has also been announced as appearing in a psychological thriller, Lovely to the Last and also in a short film called Rain as a character called Heidi. Richards mentioned to The Times newspaper that she was proud of herself for her effort in keeping herself active within show business.[citation needed]

In April 2012, she performed a British indie feature The Fold in Bristol and Cornwall, playing Eloise, the daughter of an Anglican priest. The film is written by Poppy Cogan, winner of the Harpers/William Morris Short Script Award, and directed by John Jencks.[21] It commercially opened in limited release in UK on 24 March 2014.

Richards played a title role in ITV thriller Lightfields alongside Jill Halfpenny and Kris Marshall. It's a supernatural five-part drama which follows on from the ITV drama Marchlands and tells the story of three families living in the same house with a ghost during different time periods.[22]

In 2013, she heads up the cast of French filmmaker Stéphanie Joalland’s sci-fi thriller The Quiet Hour, about a brother and sister trying to survive in a post-apocalyptic England. In the same year she filmed the short film Girl Power.[23]

Richards has made her stage debut in English Touring Theatre’s revival of Tom Stoppard's Arcadia.[24]

In 2016, she was cast for the part of WPC Shirley Trewlove in the Endeavour television series.

In 2018, she was cast for the part of Margaret Osborne in the upcoming ITV drama Beecham House.[25]


In 2011, Richards posed naked for Ocean 2012, a campaign to prevent overfishing. In the shoot naked celebrities (including Ben Kingsley and Lily Loveless) are photographed holding giant fish.[26]

In 2013, she modelled for "Immortal Sorapol" AW13, a commercial shoot of a new London-based fashion brand.[27] She has also been photographed by Joe Prileszky for Anathema Designs, a handmade jewellery from upcycled materials.[28]

Personal life[edit]

Richards resides in Brighton. In her free time she enjoys making art, especially in modern and abstract style. She is said to appreciate the photographer Christian Coigny, Tracey Emin's and Damien Hirst's works, Hayao Miyazaki, and Studio Ghibli films. In music, she has often declared herself to be a big fan of Lady Gaga.[16]

She has revealed how she suffered torment at the hands of school bullies after she dyed her hair red for her role in The Golden Compass. In 2008, she attended a two-week camp in the Lake District organised by the Equality and Human Rights Commission which aimed to bring together teenagers from different backgrounds to discuss discrimination.[6]

Since 2010, she has supported Action for Children, a charity in the United Kingdom helping vulnerable young people overcome injustice and deprivation. In 2011, she fronted an advertising campaign to promote the new charity project.[29][30] Richards is a vegan.[31]

Richards also backs The Young Actors Group, an acting school in Brighton opened in 2014 that gives children and teenagers the training to work professionally in stage and screen.[32]



Year Title Role Notes
2007 The Golden Compass Lyra Belacqua
2008 The Secret of Moonacre Maria Merryweather
2009 Five Miles Out Cassey Short film
2014 The Fold Eloise Ashton
2014 The Quiet Hour Sarah
2014 Girl Power Cassey Short film
2016 ChickLit Zoe feature film


Year Title Role Notes
2008 Dustbin Baby April Johnson Television film
2011–2012 Skins Franky Fitzgerald 18 episodes
2013 Lightfields Eve 5 episodes
2016–present Endeavour WPC Shirley Trewlove


Year Title Role Notes
2015 Arcadia Thomasina English Touring Theatre
2015 A Streetcar Named Desire Stella Curve, Leicester
2017 What The Butler Saw Geraldine Curve, Leicester

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Organisation Award Work Result
2007 Broadcast Film Critics Association Critics' Choice Award[33] The Golden Compass Nominated
London Film Critics Circle Breakthrough Award[34] (num) Nominated
2008 Young Artist Awards Best Performance in a Feature Film – Leading Young Actress[35] Nominated
Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films Saturn Award[36] Nominated
2011 TVChoice Awards Best Actress[37] Skins Nominated
Royal Television Society (RTS) Best Actress[38] Nominated


  1. ^ a b c d e f "The 13-year-old girl who could be richer than Daniel Radcliffe". The Daily Mail. 23 November 2007. Retrieved 5 December 2007.
  2. ^ "Lyra cast in Dark Materials film". CBBC Newsround. 29 June 2006. Retrieved 5 December 2007.
  3. ^ Higgins, Charlotte (30 June 2006). "Dark Materials film gets green light". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 5 December 2007.
  4. ^ a b "Richards Returns In Moonacre". SciFi Wire. 3 December 2007. Archived from the original on 3 February 2008. Retrieved 5 December 2007.
  5. ^ Skins
  6. ^ a b Acford, Louise (16 January 2009). "Star bullied for her ginger hair". London: The Argus. Retrieved 26 July 2014.
  7. ^ "The calm before the storm". London: The Guardian. 30 November 2007. Retrieved 5 December 2007.
  8. ^ "The Golden Compass!". JoBlo.com. 29 May 2007. Retrieved 5 December 2007.
  9. ^ a b Irvine, Lindesay (29 June 2006). "Lyra found for $150m Dark Materials film". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 5 December 2007.
  10. ^ ""Lyra speaks" on Scholastic live webchat" (PDF). Scholastic Kids, Torre degli Angeli. 19 December 2007. Archived from the original (PDF) on 27 February 2008.
  11. ^ Landesman, Cosmo (2 December 2007). "The Golden Compass". London: The Sunday Times. Retrieved 5 December 2007.
  12. ^ a b "The Golden Compass". Empire magazine. 5 December 2007. Retrieved 5 December 2007.
  13. ^ a b Bradshaw, Peter (30 November 2007). "The Golden Compass". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 5 December 2007.
  14. ^ Christopher, James (27 November 2007). "The Golden Compass". London: The Times. Retrieved 5 December 2007.
  15. ^ Ebert, Roger (7 December 2007). "The Golden Compass". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 9 April 2012.
  16. ^ a b "Dakota Blue Richards plays Franky". Channel 4 Press Info. Jan 2011. Retrieved 9 May 2012.
  17. ^ "Dakota Blue Richards talks erotic comedy Chick Lit". Red Carpet News TV. 21 July 2014. Retrieved 26 July 2014.
  18. ^ Lawrence, Will (30 November 2007). "Dakota Blue Richards: The 13-year-old poised to conquer the world". London: The Telegraph. Retrieved 5 December 2007.
  19. ^ "Lyra actress Dakota gets new role". CBBC Newsround. 2 October 2007. Retrieved 5 December 2007.
  20. ^ McNulty, Bernadette (19 December 2008). "Dustbin Baby". London: The Telegraph. Retrieved 21 December 2008.
  21. ^ "Dakota Blue Richards joins The Fold". ScreenTerrier. 23 March 2012. Retrieved 1 April 2012.
  22. ^ "Jill Halfpenny to star in ITV's Lightfields". thestage. 29 August 2012. Retrieved 31 August 2012.
  23. ^ "Interview with Dakota Blue Richards". ASFF. Retrieved 9 Apr 2014.
  24. ^ Hutchison, David (17 December 2014). "Dakota Blue Richards to make stage debut in touring Arcadia revival". The Stage News. Retrieved 31 December 2014.
  25. ^ Ling, Thomas (20 August 2018). "ITV announces star-studded period drama Beecham House". Radio Times. Retrieved 31 August 2018.
  26. ^ "Fishlove Shoot Rankin". wordpress. 20 October 2011. Retrieved 17 June 2012.
  27. ^ "Ram Shergill - Fashion Through the Lens of M". Leica Store Mayfair. 12 September 2013. Retrieved 18 Sep 2013.
  28. ^ "Anathema Designs Shoot Prileszky". Joe Prileszky. Archived from the original on 25 May 2014. Retrieved 9 April 2014.
  29. ^ "Action for Children Launch". Action for Children. 8 February 2011. Archived from the original on 9 August 2014. Retrieved 9 May 2012.
  30. ^ Dakota BlueSource (2015-07-16), Dakota Blue Richards talks through My Action for Children, retrieved 2016-05-26
  31. ^ "Dakota Blue Richard's twitter profile". Retrieved 18 Dec 2017.
  32. ^ Cobley, Mike (8 July 2014). "Dakota Blue Richards Helps New Brighton Acting School To Search For The Next 'Golden' Star". The Brighton Magazine. Retrieved 26 July 2014.
  33. ^ "13th Annual Critics Choice Awards - Best Young Actress". VH1. Retrieved 16 May 2008.
  34. ^ "Atonement film up for more awards". BBC News. 14 December 2007. Retrieved 16 May 2008.
  35. ^ "2008 nominees and winners". Young Artist Awards. Archived from the original on 4 December 2013. Retrieved 16 May 2008.
  36. ^ "2008 Saturn Awards". IMBD. Retrieved 16 May 2008.
  37. ^ "2011 TVChoice Awards 2011". E4. Archived from the original on 23 May 2011. Retrieved 20 May 2011.
  38. ^ "RTS Awards - Best Actress". Bristol Business. 17 February 2012. Retrieved 8 May 2012.

External links[edit]