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 "The West Wing" (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. 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 "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 seven 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's mother.
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.
Formerly lived with Dennis Gagomiros, a computer programmer, in a Manhattan loft. They first met at the New York City Playhouse in 1982. 
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."
Graduated from Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio.
Was discovered by Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward 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.
Announced live on WCBM Radio's "Tom Marr Show" that she had accepted actor Richard Jenik's proposal and was engaged to be married around Christmas, 2004. The couple broke off their engagement in November 2006.
Nominated for Broadway's 1998 Tony Award as Best Actress (Play) for a revival of Arthur Miller's "A View From the Bridge".
Her great-uncle, Stuart Janney, owned many racehorses, including Ruffian.
Most admires Susan B. Anthony.
In the 1998 movie The Object of My Affection (1998), she played Alan Alda's wife. In the early 1990s, she attended Kenyon College with Alda's daughter, Elizabeth Alda. Alda co-starred on "The West Wing" (1999) from 2005-2006 with Janney, though they have not appeared together on camera.
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) -- her mere existence is reason enough to give thanks".
Her character on "The West Wing", Cj Cregg, also came from Dayton, Ohio.
Mother was an actor.
One of 105 people invited to join AMPAS in 2008.
Nominated for the 2009 Tony Award for Best Performance for a Leading Actress in a Musical for "9 to 5: The Musical".
In 2009, she won a Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actress in a Musical for her performance as Violet Newstead in "9 to 5", the musical version of the film Nine to Five (1980). She was also nominated for the Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical, but lost to Alice Ripley for her performance in "Next to Normal".
Called Mariska Hargitay up on the stage with her after Janney won the Emmy for Best Lead Actress in a Drama after making notice that they were both wearing similar green dresses. After Hargitay went up on stage with her she called up the other nominees who all declined.
Allison provides the voice for the Star Tours Hostess Aly San San. The updated version of the Walt Disney World/Disneyland Attraction opened May/June 2011.
(On her height) "Years ago, one casting agent told me that the only roles I could play were lesbians and aliens."
(on staying sane and happy) Dogs tether you to the earth in some really good way. And exercise, of course. And martinis. And sexy high heels. That's it. Good work, a nice pair of heels, a martini, a dog and a man - not necessarily in that order. - as quoted in the magazine Living Fit.
Listen, I'm an actor. I can make anyone believe anything. I don't have to know what the hell I'm talking about.
I hate auditioning so much. I like people who go, 'You know what? Allison can do this.'
(2011, on making Mr. Sunshine) Oh my God. I mean, it was just a candy store for me. I had so much fun playing her, and I wish I could've gone on playing her, because she was really fun. I love to play those absurd women. And I got to sing with James Taylor! If nothing else, I got to do that. And Matthew [Perry] is pretty great to work with, too. I had a great time. I'm sorry and sad it didn't go, but, geez, I'm glad I got to do that.
(2011, on Big Night) Oh, well, Stanley Tucci, love of my life. I did a play with him and got to know him, and he was talking about this movie he was doing, that he was getting together. And I just loved him so much that I wanted to be around him, so I said, "Stanley, let me be part of this movie. I will be craft services. I will be your script girl. Just let me be part of this in some way." And he called me up in my New York City apartment one day and said, "Allison, I want you to play the part of Ann, the flower lady in Big Night." He just called and offered that to me. And that was one of the happiest movie sets I've ever been on. The most fun. Such difficult hours, but I was hanging out with Marc Anthony! He had a wordless part in that movie, and he and I became friends. We were so silly, hanging out together. And I loved Campbell Scott. I was just so happy to be there that I could've worked 24-hour days and not complained a bit. I was having such a great time. Really one of my favorite movies I got to do.
(2011, on Lost) Most difficult acting job I've ever had to do in my life. Didn't enjoy acting outdoors, in streams and in the elements. It was very hard. I had to loop most of my performance for that. That's what I want to say about that: I had to loop for 10 hours. That was not fun. I don't like looping. And it was a weird decision, I think, in my career to do that, 'cause I... I don't know, I thought it'd be fun to be part of such a pop-culture thing. But it was quite difficult to do, and I felt a little lost myself during Lost.
(2011, on The West Wing) The most impactful role I've ever played. Life-changing. A life-changing role, in terms of my notoriety, if you want to call it that, opening doors to meeting the kinds of people I never would've met in a million years. Going to Washington and being invited to the White House, going to the Foreign Correspondents' Dinner. It just opened a million doors and broadened my life so much, and brought so much to me. I was so proud of being a part of a groundbreaking show like that. It was life-changing, and I'll be forever grateful for it.
(2011) Ginger on Guiding Light, that was my first professional job as an actress in New York City, and I felt like I had made it! I was thrilled. It afforded me... Well, I could pay my rent on what I made! It was the first time I kind of started making a living. I could pay for my rent and for other things. I started being able to take my friends out to dinner. It was my first real salary as an actress. So that was pretty big.
(2011, on Drop Dead Gorgeous) I think I get more people coming up to me saying how much they love that movie than any other thing I've done. Even more than West Wing, I have to say. That movie is a cult classic, and that was a great part. I did a lot of improv in that part, and... It was a long time shooting up there for me. I hung out a lot at the Mall Of America to get that accent down, 'cause that was a hard accent to do right. And I think I got it pretty right. But Ellen Barkin was a dream to work with. Hysterical.
(2011, on 10 Things I Hate About You) My first big movie where I got money. Where I got real money that I put in the bank. That was very important to me...And to my father. I remember having dinner with him, telling him, "Dad, I just got cast in this part, and they're paying me blank amount of money," and it was enough to put in the bank and save. And he was very proud of me. [Director] Gil Junger, he was very fun to work with, and he encouraged me to be very silly. And Heath Ledger, that was one of his first movies over here, and he was such a sweet guy and very handsome. And genuinely kind. That's what I remember about him. It was before his career took off, but I just thought, "There's a guy who's going to do well," and I was impressed by the fact that he was so kind and nice. And he remembered my name. I thought that was sweet.
|"The West Wing" (1999)||$70,000 per episode|
(September 2008) Currently doing Dolly Parton's musical version of 9 to 5 in LA starring in Lily Tomlin's role.
(March 2011) Crystal on "Mr Sunshine"
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