After graduating from Smyrna's Campbell High School, she attended Georgia State University but did not graduate.
She later headed to New York City to pursue a career in acting.
Once there, she signed with the Click Modeling Agency and enrolled in acting classes.
She played Tinkerbell in Steven Spielberg's Hook in 1991, and also played a nurse in the 1991 film, Dying Young.
Her first critical success with moviegoers was her performance in the independent film Mystic Pizza in 1988; that same year, she had a role in the fourth-season finale of Miami Vice.
In 1989, she was featured in Steel Magnolias, as a young bride with diabetes, and received both her first Academy Award nomination (as Best Supporting Actress) and first Golden Globe Award win (Motion Picture Best Supporting Actress) for her performance.
Her films Mystic Pizza (1988), Sleeping with the Enemy (1991), Hook (1991), The Pelican Brief (1993), My Best Friend's Wedding (1997), Conspiracy Theory (1997), Notting Hill (1999), Runaway Bride (1999), Ocean's Eleven (2001), Mona Lisa Smile (2003), Ocean's Twelve (2004), Charlie Wilson's War (2007), Valentine's Day (2010), Eat Pray Love (2010), Mirror Mirror (2012), and Money Monster (2016) have collectively brought box office receipts of over US.7 billion, making her one of the most successful actresses in terms of box office receipts.
She received the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie nomination for her performance in the HBO television film The Normal Heart (2014).
It looks like Fanning will have no shortage of opportunities to stretch her acting wings, so we may be seeing and hearing more from her soon.