Allison Janney

Allison Brooks Janney is an American actress. A prolific character actress, Janney is the recipient of numerous accolades, including an Academy Award and seven Primetime Emmy Awards.
Born in Boston and raised in Dayton, Ohio, Janney received a scholarship to study at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts 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 The West Wing, for which she received four Primetime Emmy Awards. The character became widely popular and was described as one of the greatest female characters in American television history. In 2014, she won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series for her role as Margaret Scully on the Showtime period drama Masters of Sex. Since 2013, she has starred as a cynical recovering addict in the CBS sitcom Mom.
Her performance on the show gained her five consecutive Primetime Emmy Award nominations and won her two Primetime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series.
Janney made her professional stage debut with the Off-Broadway production Ladies and followed with numerous bit parts in various similar productions, before making her Broadway debut in the 1996 revival of Present Laughter. She won Drama Desk Awards and received Tony Award nominations for her performances in the 1997 Broadway revival of A View from the Bridge, and the 2009 original Broadway production of the musical 9 to 5.
Her film roles include Private Parts, Primary Colors, 10 Things I Hate About You, Drop Dead Gorgeous, American Beauty, Nurse Betty, The Hours, Finding Nemo, Over the Hedge, Hairspray, Juno, The Help, The Way, Way Back, Tammy, Minions, Spy, Tallulah, The Girl on the Train, Bad Education, The Addams Family, and Bombshell. In 2017, for her portrayal of LaVona Golden in the black comedy film I, Tonya, Janney won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.

Early life and education

Allison Brooks Janney was born on November 19, 1959 in Boston, Massachusetts, and raised in Dayton, Ohio. She is the daughter of Macy Brooks Janney, a former actress, and Jervis Spencer Janney, Jr., a real estate developer and jazz musician. She has two brothers—Hal and Jay.
Janney 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 a career in figure skating, however, her tall stature and a freak accident at her high school party hindered the 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 the summer of 1984.



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 first played Vi Kaminski for a short time on As the World Turns, following up with a two-year role as Ginger, one of the Spaulding maids, on Guiding Light. In the spring of 1994, she appeared in the season-four finale of Law & Order, entitled "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.
After a decade of small and uncredited parts, Janney had her breakthrough when she was cast in the NBC political drama
The West Wing. Set primarily in the West Wing of the White House, where the Oval Office and offices of presidential senior staff are located, during the fictitious Democratic administration of Josiah Bartlet, Janney plays C. J. Cregg, the highly efficient, whip-smart White House Press Secretary of the administration who masterfully navigates the egos and pathos of the politicians she deals with. The 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 succeeds Leo McGarry as White House Chief of Staff.
on The West Wing. It proved to be her breakout role, earning her four Primetime Emmy Awards
The West Wing is regarded as one of the greatest and most influential television series. Janney's portrayal of C.J. Cregg garnered widespread praise throughout the show's seven season run and the character is now widely regarded as one of the greatest female characters on American television. 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 #2 and says; "If all the Sorkin women were as classy, self-assured, and legitimately funny 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.
Janney guest starred on the sitcom Frasier in a 2002 episode Three Blind Dates and appeared in the short-lived Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip 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.
Following few short-lived shows and a brief sabbatical from television, Janney returned to the small screen with the CBS sitcom Mom, opposite Anna Faris. Set in Napa, California, the show follows a dysfunctional daughter/mother duo who, after having been estranged for years while both were struggling with addiction, attempt to pull their lives and their relationship together by trying to stay sober and attending Alcoholics Anonymous. Janney plays Bonnie Plunkett, a self-centered, cynical recovering addict who tries to regain the love and trust of her daughter. Janney was influenced to accept the role following the demise of her younger brother from drug addiction and also having the desire to work in multicam comedy for a long time. Filmed in front of a live audience, Mom has garnered acclaim from critics and has been applauded for addressing themes of real-life issues such as alcoholism, drug addiction, teen pregnancy, addictive gambling, ADD and for maintaining a deft balance between the humorous and darker aspects of these issues. Renewed for its eighth season, Mom is the third highest-rated comedy on broadcast television in the US. It is among the top five comedies with both adults ages 25 to 54 and adults ages 18 to 49.
For her performance in the series, Janney has garnered five Primetime Emmy Award nominations winning twice as Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series, and six nominations at the Critics' Choice Television Awards winning twice for Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series.
From 2014 to 2016, Janney guest starred in Showtime's period drama Masters of Sex. Based on early lives and work of American sexologists, William Masters and Virginia Johnson, who studied human sexuality, Janney played Margaret Scully, a sexually repressed homemaker in 1950s who struggles to understand the disintegration of her marriage. Her performance received praise with Janney receiving three consecutive nominations for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series winning one in 2014, and winning the Critics' Choice Television Award for Best Guest Performer in a Drama Series.
Janney appeared as herself, in an 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 made her film debut with a minor part in Who Shot Patakango?. This was followed by a series of minor roles in numerous films throughout the 90s, including; Wolf, The Object of My Affection, Big Night, The Impostors, Drop Dead Gorgeous, The Ice Storm, Primary Colors, 10 Things I Hate About You, Private Parts, and American Beauty. 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, The Hours, Finding Nemo, How to Deal, The Chumscrubber, Winter Solstice, and Our Very Own. For the last of these, she received a nomination for the Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Female.
In 2007, Janney starred in Jason Reitman's comedy-drama Juno, playing Bren MacGuff, the titular character's stepmother. Juno received acclaim from critics, many of whom placed the film on their top ten lists for the year and received four Academy Award nominations including for the Best Picture. In the same year, she appeared in the musical Hairspray as Prudy Pingleton, a Christian fundamentalist whose strict parenting keeps her daughter from experiencing social life. For her performance in the former she won the Austin Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress and for the latter, a nomination at the Screen Actors Guild Awards and win at the Critics' Choice Movie Awards for Best Acting Ensemble. In 2010, Janney starred in Todd Solondz's comedy-drama Life During Wartime. She played Trish Jordan Maplewood, a woman caught up in a whirlwind of dysfunction and deceit. Life During Wartime premiered at the 66th Venice International Film Festival and opened to critical praise with Richard Corliss from Time calling it "The Year's Best Indie Film". Janney's work garnered praise with Peter Bradshaw from The Guardian calling her performance "excellent" and received a nomination for the Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Female.
In 2011, Janney appeared in Tate Taylor's period drama The Help. Based on Kathryn Stockett's 2009 novel of the same name, it recounts the story of a young white woman and aspiring journalist Eugenia "Skeeter" Phelan, who decides to write a book from the point of view of the maids, exposing the racism they are faced with as they work for white families. Janney played Charlotte Phelan, Skeeter's status-obsessed socialite mother who begins to question her life choices following a cancer diagnosis. The Help was a critical and commercial success, receiving four Academy Award nominations including for the Best Picture. For the film, Janney won the Screen Actors Guild Award and Critics' Choice Movie Award for Best Acting Ensemble.
She also appeared in Margaret, Struck by Lightning, Liberal Arts, Spy, The DUFF, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, Tallulah, and The Girl on the Train.
in 2017
In 2017, Janney starred in the black comedy
I, Tonya. Based on the life of figure skater Tonya Harding, It follows her life and her connection to the 1994 attack on her rival Nancy Kerrigan. Janney plays LaVona Golden, Harding's abusive and caustic mother who pushed her to excel like a redneck beauty pageant mother. 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.
I, Tonya premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and opened to critical and commercial success. Janney's performance received widespread critical acclaim, with various critics and publications citing her performance as the film's highlight and one of the best of her career. Christy Lemire of said: "Janney absolutely tears it up as the profane, chain-smoking LaVona Harding, constantly insulting Tonya and messing with her mind in the name of making her a champion. It's a showy, scenery-chewing performance but it's not one-note; Janney brings an undercurrent of sorrow to the part in revealing LaVona's twisted methodology." Michael O'Sullivan of The Washington Post wrote that: 'Janney steals every scene she's in, playing LaVona, a harridan whose nodding goes beyond tough love.' Helen O'Hara from Empire called Janney's performance flawless and flamboyant, and an unforgettable one. Janney earned multitude of 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 in five movies in 2019. She had cameo appearances in the family comedy
Troop Zero with Viola Davis and Jim Gaffigan where she played Krystal Massey, the leader of a rival Birdie Scout Troop, the psychological thriller Ma with Octavia Spencer where she played Dr. Brooks, the titular character's boss and Bombshell, a film based upon the accounts of the women at Fox News who set out to expose CEO Roger Ailes for sexual harassment, where she played Susan Estrich, the legal counsel to Ailes. 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 for the role of Margaux Needler, a sly and greedy reality TV show host and homemaking guru in the animated version of The Addams Family. The film opened to mixed reviews from critics but was a box office success grossing over $203 million worldwide.
Janney's final release of the year came with Cory Finley's comedy-drama
Bad Education opposite Hugh Jackman. Based on the true story of the largest public school embezzlement in American history, Janney plays Pamela 'Pam' Gluckin, an assistant superintendent who participates in the embezzlement scheme of $4.3 million. Janney found the character complex and interesting and had to perfect a Long Island accent. Bad Education premiered at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival and received critical acclaim. Janney's performance garnered rave reviews with Kate Rodgers of Newshub calling her performance "pitch-perfect", David Ehrlich of Indiewire called her excellent and commended her accent, saying; Janney, affects a hard Long Island accent that resists parody even during her funniest scenes, affects the part of a wounded lioness. Jake Coyle of Associated Press singled out Janney's performance as sliding "into the movie so perfectly that it feels more like she came first and the film was sensibly built around her".
Janney is currently in production with two films; Tate Taylor's comedy-drama
Breaking News in Yuba County and J. J. Abrams's thriller Lou''.


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 Noel Coward's Present Laughter. She played Liz Essendine, the estranged wife of the lead character. 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.
In 1998, Janney starred in the revival of Arthur Miller's A View from the Bridge. Set in 1950s America, in an Italian-American neighborhood near the Brooklyn Bridge in New York, Janney portrayed Beatrice Carbone, a suspicious homemaker who suspects her husband's romantic feelings towards her niece. Although again a smaller role, Janney's work garnered rave reviews with John Heilpern from The Observer calling her performance "tremendous" and making a brilliant working-class heroine even more of a revelation. 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.
In 2009, Janney starred in the musical 9 to 5 along with Stephanie J. Block and Megan Hilty. Based on the film of the same name, Janney starred as Violet Newstead, the super-efficient office manager, played by Lily Tomlin in the film version. Her performance garnered rave reviews with Variety calling her the "show-stealer" and Ben Brantley from The New York Times saying; 9 to 5 is blessed with the presence of Janney and cited her performance as the show's "biggest asset". For her performance, 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 2017, following an eight-year absence, Janney returned to Broadway with the revival of John Guare's Six Degrees of Separation. Janney plays Ouisa Kittredge, a status obsessed, Upper East Side socialite whose obsession with fame and fortune rears its head when she and her husband receive an unexpected visitor one evening. Although received less favourably than the original, Janney's performance garnered rave reviews with David Rooney from The Hollywood Reporter calling her performance "spectacular" and saying; she nails both the initial poise and the despairing need that creeps up and takes Ouisa by surprise as she realizes her connection with this impostor was something real, lasting and all too rare. Ben Brantley from The New York Times said; "Janney makes a highly credible Ouisa. Brisk, breezy and enameled in Clint Ramos’s expensively tasteful costumes, she is probably closer to Ouisa's real-life counterparts than Ms. Channing was. For her performance, 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.

Personal life

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. The couple got engaged in 2004 but broke up two years later in 2006. In 2012, Janney met production manager Philip Joncas, 20 years her junior. The two met on the sets of The Way, Way Back and began dating soon after. The couple dated for five years before ending their relationship in 2017.
In interviews related to her role on Mom, Janney discussed her brother, Hal, who fought drug addiction for years before committing suicide. On March 4, 2018, Janney dedicated her Academy Award win to him 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 Same-sex marriage, gay rights, women's rights, mental health, and addiction recovery. 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 2016, Janney was honored at the White House at the event "Champions of Change", which honored 10 accomplished individuals from across the country who were being recognized for advancing addiction prevention, treatment, and recovery. She also participated in a panel discussion with Surgeon General Vivek Murthy to talk about the portrayal of addiction and recovery in the media. In 2017, Janney donated $250,000 to the Planned Parenthood, a nonprofit organization that provides reproductive health care in the United States and globally. In 2020 with the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic, Janney donated $10,000 to the Dayton Foodbank, an organisation providing the food supply to the homeless. She frequently promotes her charitable causes through her social media accounts.





Music video

Awards and nominations