Nov. 19th, 1959
Dayton, Ohio, USA
Allison Janney's Main TV Roles
Main Movie Roles
Guest TV Roles[none found]
Allison Janney is an award-winning actress who has earned a solid reputation in stage productions and in many supporting roles on screen, and who more recently has become prominent by portraying one of the major characters in the popular TV series "West Wing, The" (1999). Entertainment Weekly magazine describes Janney's screen presence as "uncommonly beautiful and infinitely expressive". As an actor, the magazine deems her to be "one to watch".
While studying at Kenyon College, Janney answered a casting call for an on-campus play that was to be directed by Kenyon's most famous alumnus, the legendary actor Paul Newman (I). During her audition/interview, Janney played upon Newman's known passion for race car driving - she explained how she cut thirty minutes off of the 130 mile journey from her home town to the college. She got chosen for the play's cast.
After earning her degree in drama, Janney took Joanne Woodward's suggestion to do further study at New York's Neighborhood Playhouse. She also studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London.
Early in her career Janney got comedic roles in the soap operas "As the World Turns" (1956) and "The Guiding Light" (1952). Later, she gave memorable movie performances in supporting roles in Drop Dead Gorgeous (1999), 10 Things I Hate About You (1999), American Beauty (1999) and Nurse Betty (2000), and in the made-for-TV movie ...First Do No Harm (1997) (TV), among others.
Among her stage work, Janney has played in a revival of Arthur Miller's "A View From the Bridge" on Broadway opposite Anthony LaPaglia, which earned her a Tony Award nomination, and a Drama League Award for outstanding artist for the 1997-98 season. She played in Noel Coward's "Present Laughter" opposite Frank Langella, which earned her the Outer Critics Circle Award and an Actors' Equity award. Janney also appeared in the New York Shakespeare Festival's production of "The Taming of the Shrew".
In 1999 Janney became part of the original cast of the acclaimed TV series "The West Wing" (1999) where she played the President's press secretary who eventually gets promoted to the White House Chief of Staff. Her impressive work during the six seasons of that renowned series earned her four Emmys and two SAG Awards.
With her reputation becoming more broadly established during her work on "The West Wing" Janney won more substantive roles in feature films, in the acclaimed The Hours (2002) where she was Meryl Streep's lesbian lover, and in How to Deal (2003) where she played Mandy Moore (II)'s mother.
- Her character on "The West Wing", Cj Cregg, also came from Dayton, Ohio.
- Her dad is a jazz musician, and she has two brothers who are also both musicians. She had dreams of becoming an Olympic skater before a freak accident derailed that -- she ran blindly through a glass door and was severely injured. She was educated at Kenyon College, Gambier, Ohio; Neighborhood Playhouse, New York and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, London, England, UK.
- Was discovered by 'Paul Newman (I)' (qv) and 'Joanne Woodward (I)' (qv) while acting in a play, directed by Newman, at Kenyon College, Ohio. They encouraged her to head to New York City after graduation in order to study at the Neighborhood Playhouse.
- Graduated from Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio.
- While struggling to make it as an actress, she told people who inquired about what she did for a living that she was a photographer for "National Geographic."
- She won an Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play for "Present Laughter" in 1997. She shared the award with 'Deborah Findlay' (qv) and 'Celia Weston' (qv).
- Nominated for the 2009 Tony Award for Best Performance for a Leading Actress in a Musical for "9 to 5: The Musical".
- In an article praising the most exceptional women of the year ("Those we loved in 2005," The Guardian, 16 December 2005), Laura Barton gave "a big thank you" to Allison Janney, "aka CJ from _"The West Wing" (1999)_ (qv) -- her mere existence is reason enough to give thanks".