Raleigh teen lands a role in ‘The Hunger Games’

dmenconi@newsobserver.comMarch 23, 2012 

Dakota Hood, a Raleigh native, is the female counterpart-Tribute Girl for District 10 in the film "The Hunger Games."

COURTESY OF TRAVIS TAYLOR

Most 16-year-olds are focused on things like getting a driver’s license, but Dakota Hood’s concerns are a bit broader. The North Carolina native has a part in “The Hunger Games,” a movie that opens today and is expected to be an enormous hit.

Hood, a sophomore at Raleigh’s Trinity Academy, plays one of the movie’s 24 “tributes” – teenage contestants in a gladiatorial competition set in a futuristic landscape, where only one survives. Before that, she acted around the Triangle, including a couple of years as a member of the Cratchit family in Ira David Wood’s “A Christmas Carol.” She sings, too, with aspirations to break into music.

We caught up with her by phone on the eve of the movie’s release.

Q: What do your Trinity Academy classmates think of you being in a big movie?

They’re all so excited. They’ve been my friends since the second grade, and it’s like they get to go along for the ride. So that’s been great.

Q: So you landed this in an open audition?

Yeah. I auditioned for one of the main roles, Clove. They’d written lines for the audition, and I sent tapes of myself reading those lines. I didn’t get Clove, but they needed other tributes and they told me I had a role as the tribute from District 10. I was so excited because I’d gone into this thinking I had no chance whatsoever.

Q: What is your character’s fate?

Well, 10 of the tributes die on the first day, including me. I felt better that at least I was not the only one dying that day – and I was even the last one that first day. I die in the cornucopia, a bloodbath bloodshed site.

Q: Guess that means you won’t be in any of the sequels.

I was sad at first, because I just love the whole cast. But I realized that 22 other cast members wouldn’t be returning to the next movie, either. You’re very lucky if you get to return, but I feel lucky just to be in the first one.

Reading the books

Q: How familiar were you with the books before doing this movie?

A couple of weeks before I auditioned, my friends told me I needed to read the first book. I thought it was amazing. Could not put it down and finished it in a day. Then after I got the part, I read the second and third books and loved them, too. I think Suzanne Collins is one of the greatest writers of our time.

Q: Did you do any training for the part? Learn how to sword-fight or anything like that?

I did my own training. Some acting training as well, not just fighting training. Since my character dies on the first day, I actually didn’t have to learn as much about fighting as some of the other ones.

Q: What about your singing?

I want to go to college and double-major in voice and film. I can’t let either one go because I love both singing and acting so much. Now I’m more focused on my singing career. This summer, I’ll probably get back into acting. As projects come up, I’ll work on my acting, too. Wherever it takes me.

Menconi: 919-829-4759 or blogs.newsobserver.com/beat

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