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Allison Janney
Allison Janney4crop.jpg
Janney in 2008
Allison Brooks Janney

(1959-11-19) November 19, 1959 (age 64)
Occupation Actress
Years active 1989–present
Partner(s) Richard Jenik (2002–2006)
Awards Full list

Allison Brooks Janney (born November 19, 1959) is an American actress. Known for her performances across the screen and stage, she has received various accolades, including an Academy Award, a British Academy Film Award, a Golden Globe Award, and seven Primetime Emmy Awards, in addition to nominations for two Tony Awards.

Born in Boston and raised in Dayton, Ohio, Janney received a scholarship to study at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London following her graduation from Kenyon College. After years of minor and uncredited film and television appearances, Janney's breakthrough came with the role of C. J. Cregg in the NBC political drama series The West Wing (1999–2006), for which she received four Primetime Emmy Awards.

Janney made her professional stage debut with the Off-Broadway production Ladies (1989), and followed with numerous bit parts in various similar productions, before making her Broadway debut with the 1996 revival of Present Laughter. She won two Drama Desk Awards and has been nominated for two Tony Awards: for Best Actress in a Play for her performance in the Broadway revival of A View from the Bridge (1997), and for Best Actress in a Musical for her role in the original Broadway production of the musical 9 to 5 (2009).

Janney has also played character roles in various films, including Primary Colors (1998), American Beauty (1999), The Hours (2002), Juno (2007), Hairspray (2007), The Help (2011), Spy (2015), and Bad Education (2019). For her portrayal of LaVona Golden in the film I, Tonya (2017), Janney won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.

Early life and education

Ransom Hall, Kenyon College
Kenyon College, which Janney attended

Janney was born on November 19, 1959, in Boston, Massachusetts, and raised in Dayton, Ohio. She is the daughter of Macy Brooks Janney (née Putnam), a former actress, and Jervis Spencer Janney Jr., a real estate developer and jazz musician. She has an older brother, Jay and had a younger brother, Hal (1961–2011). Hal died in 2011 at the age of 49.

She attended the Miami Valley School in Dayton, where she was named a distinguished alumna in 2005, and the Hotchkiss School in Connecticut, where she was named Alumna of the Year in 2016. Janney initially aspired to a career in figure skating, but her tall stature and a freak accident when she was a teenager put an end to that dream. She attended Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, where she majored in theatre. During her freshman year, Janney met actors Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward at a play for the inaugural event of the college's newly built Bolton Theater, which Newman was directing. The couple encouraged her to continue acting and offered her guidance during the early days in her career. She went on to train at the Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre in New York and then received a scholarship to study at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in mid-1984.


1989–1998: Early roles and Broadway debut

Janney's first role on television was in the short-lived black-and-white faux-1940s comedy Morton & Hayes; she appeared in two episodes of the 1991 CBS series as Eddie Hayes' wife. She then moved on to soap operas; she played the short-term role of Vi Kaminski on As the World Turns, and then played the recurring role of Ginger, one of the Spaulding maids, on Guiding Light for nearly two years. In the spring of 1994, she appeared in the season-four finale of Law & Order, titled "Old Friends", as a reluctant witness against a member of the Russian mob. She was also a cast member on the radio show A Prairie Home Companion. Janney made her professional stage debut in 1989 with an uncredited part in the Off-Broadway production Ladies. Following minor roles in similar productions like; Prescribed Laughter In The Emergency Café, Five Women Wearing the Same Dress and Blue Window.

Janney made her Broadway debut with the 1996 revival of Noël Coward's Present Laughter. She played Liz Essendine, the estranged wife of the lead character (played by Frank Langella). Although a minor role, her performance garnered praise and attention with The New York Times calling it "The most fully accomplished performance on the stage". For her performance in the play, Janney won the Theatre World Award, Clarence Derwent Award for Most Promising Female, Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play and received a nomination for the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play. Janney made her film debut with a minor part in Who Shot Pat? (1989). This was followed by a series of minor roles in numerous films throughout the 1990s, including; Wolf (1994), Big Night (1996), Private Parts (1997), The Ice Storm (1997), The Object of My Affection (1998), The Impostors (1998), Primary Colors (1998), Drop Dead Gorgeous (1999), 10 Things I Hate About You (1999), and American Beauty (1999).

Janney starred in the Roundabout Theatre Company's 1998 revival of Arthur Miller's A View from the Bridgeto positive reviews. Janney starred opposite Anthony LaPaglia, Stephen Spinella, and Brittany Murphy. Vincent Canby of The New York Times praised Janney writing, "Allison Janney is splendid as Beatrice, a loving, patient woman of backbone who looks on helplessly but not quietly as her husband heads into the darkness". Charles Isherwood of Variety agreed describing her performance as "affecting". For her performance, Janney won the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play, Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Actress in a Play, and received a nomination for the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play.

1999–2006: The West Wing and acclaim

After a decade of small and uncredited parts, Janney had her breakthrough when she was cast as White House Press Secretary C. J. Cregg in the NBC political drama The West Wing. Creator Aaron Sorkin called Janney to audition for the role after seeing her in the film Primary Colors. Loosely based on Dee Dee Myers, the press secretary during Clinton administration, C. J. is a National Merit Scholar who ultimately succeeds Leo McGarry as White House Chief of Staff. Writing for The Atlantic, John Reid says that "her capability and combination of strength and simple compassion represented the fantasy of the Bartlet White House better than anyone." The publication also ranks her as the best character from the series. In their ranking of the best characters from all the television series created by Sorkin, Vulture, ranks C. J. at No. 2 and says; "If all the Sorkin women were as classy, self-assured, and legitimately funny (the turkey pardon!) as C. J., we'd never have had the Sorkin woman argument in the first place". For her portrayal of C. J. Cregg, Janney won four Primetime Emmy Awards, four Screen Actors Guild Award, a Satellite Award and four nominations for the Golden Globe Awards, making her the most awarded cast member of the series.

For the last of these she won the Screen Actors Guild Award and Critics' Choice Movie Award for Best Acting Ensemble. She also appeared in Nurse Betty (2000), The Hours (2002), Finding Nemo (2003), How to Deal (2003), The Chumscrubber (2005), Winter Solstice (2004), and Our Very Own (2005). For the last of these, she received a nomination for the Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Female. During this time Janney guest starred on the sitcom Frasier in a 2002 episode Three Blind Dates.

2007–2016: Established actor

Janney appeared in the short-lived Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip (2007) in a guest appearance as herself in the episode "The Disaster Show". In late 2009, she was chosen to play the role of Sheila Jackson in the pilot episode of Shameless, but when Showtime picked up the series, she was replaced after the pilot by Joan Cusack. In 2010, Janney appeared as Allison Pearson in In Plain Sight. In May 2010, she appeared in the antepenultimate episode of the ABC television series Lost as the adoptive mother of the show's two mythological opponents, Jacob and The Man in Black. She starred in the ABC network comedy Mr. Sunshine. The series, which was created by Matthew Perry, was a mid-season replacement for the 2010–11 television season.

In 2007, Janney starred in Jason Reitman's comedy-drama Juno, playing Bren MacGuff, the titular character's stepmother. In the same year, she appeared in the musical Hairspray, and won the Austin Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress and the Critics' Choice Movie Awards for Best Acting Ensemble. In 2010, Janney earned praise for her performance in Todd Solondz's comedy-drama Life During Wartime. In 2009, Janney starred in the musical 9 to 5 alongside Stephanie J. Block and Megan Hilty. Her performance garnered positive reviews, and Janney earned the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actress in a Musical and a nomination for the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical.

In 2011, Janney appeared in Tate Taylor's period drama The Help alongside Emma Stone, Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, Jessica Chastain, Mary Steenburgen and others. She won the Screen Actors Guild Award and Critics' Choice Movie Award for Best Acting Ensemble. The film was also nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture. She also appeared in the drama Margaret (2011), the coming-of-age comedy Struck by Lightning (2012), and the comedy Liberal Arts (2012).

Following few short-lived shows and a brief sabbatical from television, Janney returned to the small screen with the CBS sitcom Mom, which ran from 2013 until 2021. For her performance on the series, Janney garnered critical acclaim and six Primetime Emmy Award nominations, winning twice as Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series. She also received six nominations at the Critics' Choice Television Awards winning twice for Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series.

Janney later acted in the summer comedy The Way Way Back (2013), the spy comedy Spy (2015), the high school teen comedy The DUFF (2015), the fantasy film Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children (2016), the comedy-drama Tallulah (2016), and psychological mystery thriller The Girl on the Train (2016). She voiced Julia in The Simpsons episode "Friends and Family" (2016) and acted as herself in the IFC sketch series Comedy Bang! Bang!" episode "Allison Janney Wears a Chambray Western Shirt and Suede Fringe Boots".

2017–present: Career expansion

Allison Janney Oct 2014
Allison Janney at the Les Girls Cabaret Benefit in 2014

In 2017, Janney returned to Broadway with the revival of John Guare's Six Degrees of Separation in the role of Ouisa Kittredge. Marilyn Stasio of Variety praised Janney's performance writing, "[Her] wicked, smart delivery is perfect for Guare’s witty dialogue." David Rooney of The Hollywood Reporter concurred writing, "I found I couldn’t take my eyes off her...she looks spectacular in costumer Clint Ramos’ sleek socialite outfits, and she nails both the initial poise and the despairing needed [for the role]". Janney received nominations for the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actress in a Play, Drama League Award for Distinguished Performance and won the Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Actress in a Play.

In 2017, Janney starred in Craig Gillespie's black comedy I, Tonya, based on the life of figure skater Tonya Harding. Screenwriter Steven Rogers wrote the role of LaVona specifically for Janney and refused to sell his screenplay until Janney was cast in the film. Janney would consider the part as one of the most challenging of her career. Janney earned numerous accolades for her performance in the film including the Academy Award, Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild Award, Critics' Choice Movie Award, Independent Spirit Award, and BAFTA Award for Best Supporting Actress.

Janney appeared as herself, in an 2019 episode of the second season of the Netflix series The Kominsky Method. On the Disney Channel animated show Phineas and Ferb, Janney voiced Charlene. Janney appeared in five films in 2019. She had cameo appearances in the family comedy Troop Zero and the psychological thriller Ma. For the last of these she received nominations at the Screen Actors Guild Award, and Critics' Choice Movie Award Best Acting Ensemble. Janney also voiced Margaux Needler in the animated version of The Addams Family. Janney also appeared in Bad Education and Tate Taylor's comedy-drama Breaking News in Yuba County. She also had the title role in J. J. Abrams's thriller Lou. In 2022, Janney appeared in an episode of Who Do You Think You Are? in which she learned she was descended from Stephen Hopkins, one of the settlers on the Mayflower.

Upcoming projects

Janney is currently in production with two films: the comedy The People We Hate at the Wedding and the sci-fi film The Creator.

Personal life

Allison-Janney in 2014
Janney in 2014

Janney has never been married and has no children, of which she said: "I’ve never had that instinct to have kids, I'm at peace with it". She was romantically involved with computer programmer Dennis Gagomiros. The couple began dating in 1994, and were interested in getting married but ended their relationship after seven years together in 2001. In 2002, she met actor Richard Jenik (her co-star in Our Very Own). The couple got engaged in 2004 but broke up two years later in 2006. In 2012, Janney met production manager Philip Joncas. The two met on the set of The Way, Way Back and began dating soon after. The couple dated for five years before ending their relationship in 2017.

On March 4, 2018, Janney dedicated her Academy Award win to her brother Hal during her acceptance speech.

In 2004, she began lending her voice to television and radio spots created by Kaiser Permanente in the health maintenance organization's broad "Thrive" media campaign, and in a radio campaign for the American Institute of Architects. In September 2010, it was announced that Janney would be the voice of the Aly San San spokesdroid in the Disney attraction Star Tours – The Adventures Continue. The attraction later opened at Disney's Hollywood Studios and Disneyland. In October 2016, Janney became the first woman to receive the Alumni Award of The Hotchkiss School and received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for her work in the entertainment industry, located at 6100 Hollywood Boulevard.


Janney has campaigned for numerous issues like women's rights, LGBTQ rights, mental health, and animal rights. In 2018, Janney participated in the 2018 Women's March in Los Angeles, part of a larger national movement for women's rights, human rights, and social justice. She supports various charities including American Heart Association, American Stroke Association, Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, and GLAAD.

In 2020 with the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic, Janney donated $10,000 to the Dayton Foodbank, an organization providing food to the homeless.

Janney has also been an active supporter of voter registration, posting about voter ID issues and suggesting fans check VoteRiders for details. She and her West Wing co-stars were part of Michelle Obama's When We All Vote initiative. More recently, she participated in Divas for Democracy: United We Slay, a streaming variety show supporting voter registration.


Janney at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival


Year Title Role Notes
1989 Who Shot Pat? Miss Penny
1994 Dead Funny Jennifer
Cowboy Way, TheThe Cowboy Way NYPD computer operator
Wolf Party Guest
Miracle on 34th Street Woman in Christmas Shop
Heading Home Mary Polanski
1996 Flux Heather
Rescuing Desire Betsy
Walking and Talking Gum Puller
Big Night Ann
Faithful Saleswoman
Associate, TheThe Associate Sandy
1997 Anita Liberty Gynecologist Short film
Private Parts Dee Dee
Ice Storm, TheThe Ice Storm Dot Halford
Julian Po Lilah Leech
1998 Primary Colors Miss Walsh
Object of My Affection, TheThe Object of My Affection Constance Miller
Impostors, TheThe Impostors Maxine
Six Days, Seven Nights Marjorie Smith, Robin's Boss
Celebrity Evelyn Isaacs
1999 10 Things I Hate About You Ms. Perky
Drop Dead Gorgeous Loretta
American Beauty Barbara Fitts
The Debtors
2000 Leaving Drew Paula Short film
Auto Motives Gretchen
Nurse Betty Lyla Branch
Rooftop Kisses Melissa Short film
2002 Hours, TheThe Hours Sally Lester
2003 Finding Nemo Peach Voice
How to Deal Lydia Martin
Chicken Party Barbara Strasser Short film
2004 Piccadilly Jim Eugenia Crocker
Winter Solstice Molly Ripkin
2005 Strangers with Candy Alice
Chumscrubber, TheThe Chumscrubber Allie Stifle
Our Very Own Joan Whitfield
2006 Over the Hedge Gladys Sharp Voice
2007 Hairspray Prudy Pingleton
Juno Brenda "Bren" MacGuff
2008 Pretty Ugly People Suzanna
Prop 8: The Musical Prop 8 leader's wife
2009 Away We Go Lily Anderson
Life During Wartime Trish Maplewood
2011 Margaret Wounded woman / Monica Patterson
Help, TheThe Help Charlotte Phelan
Oranges, TheThe Oranges Cathy Ostroff
2012 Thousand Words, AA Thousand Words Samantha Davis
Struck by Lightning Sheryl Phillips
Liberal Arts Prof. Judith Fairfield
2013 The Way, Way Back Betty Thompson
Days and Nights Elizabeth
Bad Words Dr. Bernice Deagan
Trust Me Meg
Brightest Star The Astronomer
2014 Tammy Deb
Mr. Peabody & Sherman Mrs. Grunion Voice
The Rewrite Prof. Mary Weldon
Get on Up Kathy
2015 The DUFF Dottie Piper
Spy Elaine Crocker
Minions Madge Nelson Voice
2016 Tallulah Margaret "Margo" Mooney
Finding Dory Peach Voice, cameo
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children Dr. Nancy Golan / Mr. Barron
The Girl on the Train Detective Riley
2017 A Happening of Monumental Proportions Principal Nichols
Sun Dogs Rose Chipley
I, Tonya LaVona Golden
2019 Troop Zero Miss Massey
Ma Dr. Brooks Cameo
Bad Education Pamela "Pam" Gluckin
The Addams Family Margaux Needler Voice
2020 Lazy Susan Velvet Swensen
2021 Breaking News in Yuba County Sue Buttons
2022 To Leslie Nancy
Lou Lou Adell
The People We Hate at the Wedding Donna
2023 The Creator Colonel Howell
TBA Everything's Going to Be Great 0TBA Filming


Year Title Role Notes
1991 Morton & Hayes Beatrice Caldicott-Hayes 2 episodes
1992 Law & Order Nora Episode: "Star Struck"
1993 Blind Spot Doreen Television film
1993–95 Guiding Light Ginger 2 episodes
1994 Law & Order Ann Madsen Episode: "Old Friends"
1995 The Wright Verdicts Alice Klein Episode: "Sins of the Father"
1995 New York Undercover Vivian Episode: "Digital Underground"
1996 Aliens in the Family Principal Sherman Episode: "A Very Brody Tweeznax"
1996 Cosby Podiatric Nurse Episode: "Happily Ever Hilton"
1997 ...First Do No Harm Dr. Melanie Abbasac Television film
1997 Path to Paradise Assistant District Attorney Television film
1998 David and Lisa Alix Television film
1999 LateLine Helen Marschant Episode: "The Minister of Television"
1999–2006 West Wing, TheThe West Wing C. J. Cregg Main cast; 155 episodes
2000–03 Scruff Holly Voice, main role
2000 A Girl Thing Kathy McCormack Television film
2001–02 Frasier Phyllis / Susanna 2 episodes
2003 King of the Hill Laura Episode: "Full Metal Dust Jacket"
2005 Weeds Ms. Greenstein Episode: "Lude Awakening"
2007 Two and a Half Men Beverly 1 episode
2007 Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip Herself Episode: "The Disaster Show"
2008–13 Phineas and Ferb Charlene Doofenshmirtz Voice, 9 episodes
2010–15 Family Guy Various Voice, 3 episodes
2010 Lost "Mother" Episode: "Across the Sea"
2010 In Plain Sight Allison Pearson 2 episodes
2011 Glenn Martin, DDS Marcia Episode: "GlennHog Day"
2011 Mr. Sunshine Crystal Cohen Main cast; 13 episodes
2012 The Big C Rita Strauss Episode: "Life Rights"
2012 Robot Chicken Grammi Gummi / Woman Voice, episode: "In Bed Surrounded by Loved Ones"
2013 Veep Janet Ryland Episode: "First Response"
2013–21 Mom Bonnie Plunkett Main role; 170 episodes
2014 Web Therapy Judith Frick 2 episodes
2015 Key & Peele Various Episode: "Key & Peele's Super Bowl Special"
2016 The Simpsons Julia Voice, episode: "Friends and Family"
2016 Comedy Bang! Bang! Herself Episode: "Allison Janney Wears a Chambray Western Shirt and Suede Fringe Boots"
2017–18 F Is for Family Henrietta Van Horne Voice, 5 episodes
2017 Nobodies Herself 2 episodes
2017 American Dad! Jessie Voice, episode: "Family Plan"
2018–20 DuckTales Goldie O'Gilt Voice, 5 episodes
2019 The Kominsky Method Herself Episode: "Chapter 16. A Thetan Arrives"
2020 A West Wing Special to Benefit When We All Vote C. J. Cregg Television special
2020 Celebrity IOU Herself Episode: "Alison Janney Gifts A Showstopper"
2021 Q-Force Voice, episode: "WeHo Confidential"
2022 Who Do You Think You Are? Herself Episode: "Allison Janney"
TBA Palm Royale Evelyn Main role, upcoming miniseries


Year Title Role Venue Notes
1989 Ladies Performer Off-Broadway
1991 Prescribed Laughter In The Emergency Café
1992 Making Book Megan Chamber
1993 Five Women Wearing the Same Dress Mindy Manhattan Class Company, Off-Broadway
1993 Class One Acts Performer Off-Broadway
1993 Breaking Up Alice Delacorte Theater, Off-Broadway
1995 New England Gemma Baker New York Theatre Workshop, Off-Broadway
1996 Blue Window Boo Second Stage Theater, Off-Broadway
1996 Present Laughter Liz Essendine Playwrights Horizons, Off-Broadway
1997 A View from the Bridge Beatrice Carbone Brooks Atkinson Theatre, Broadway
1999 The Taming of the Shrew Katherina Ethel Barrymore Theatre, Broadway
2007 The Autumn Garden Constance Tuckerman Williamstown Theatre Festival
2009 9 to 5: The Musical Violet Newstead Marquis Theatre, Broadway
2017 Six Degrees of Separation Ouisa Kittredge Ethel Barrymore Theatre, Broadway

Music video

Year Title Role Notes
2016 "Let Me Be Your Girl" Clown Artist: Rachael Yamagata; Director: Josh Radnor

Awards and nominations

See also

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