Name:
Allison Janney
Birth Date:
November 19, 1960
Birth Place:
Dayton, Ohio, USA
Height:
6'
Nationality:
American
Famous for:
Her role as C.J. Cregg on The West Wing (1999)
Profession:
Actress
Education:
The Miami Valley School in Dayton, Ohio
BIOGRAPHY
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The West Wing

Background:

''One out of forty American men wears women's clothing. We've had more than forty presidents. One of these guys has been dancing around the Oval Office in a prom dress.'' Allison Janney.

Emmy-winning actress Allison Janney garnered rave reviews for her performance as Claudia Jean 'C.J.' Cregg, the presidential press secretary turned chief of staff, in the popular and critically applauded NBC political drama series "The West Wing" (1999-2006).

Moviegoers could catch her in the feature films "Big Night" (1996; with Tony Shalhoub, Marc Anthony and Stanley Lucci), ''The Ice Storm'' (1997, starring Sigourney Weaver), "The Object of My Affection" (1998; with Jennifer Aniston), ''American Beauty'' (1999, starring Annette Bening), ''10 Things I Hate About You'' (1999, starring Julia Stiles and Heath Ledger), "The Hours" (2002; opposite Meryl Streep), "How to Deal" (2003; alongside Mandy Moore), "Hairspray" (2007; with John Travolta and Michelle Pfeiffer), and "Juno" (2007; starring Ellen Page).

An accomplished character actor, Janney has done voice work for TV's ''King of the Hill'' and the animated features ''Finding Nemo'' (2003, with Ellen Degeneres) and ''Over the Hedge'' (2006, with Thomas Haden Church). She will next be seen in the upcoming films "Margaret," with Oscar winner Anna Paquin, and "Pretty Ugly People," alongside Missi Pyle.

Janney, an NYC's Neighborhood Playhouse and London's RADA graduate, also displayed her versatility on stage. She was nominated for a 1998 Tony for her role in a Broadway revival of Arthur Miller's ''A View From the Bridge.''

On a more personal note, the lanky brunette actress formerly lived with Dennis Gagomiros (born in 1951), a computer programmer, in a Manhattan loft. The couple, who first met at the New York City Playhouse in 1982, is no longer together. She then began dating actor Richard Jenik (born November 21, 1967) in February 2003 and they became engaged in May 2004 during a weekend getaway to San Francisco.


Allison Brooks

Childhood and Family:

The daughter of Macy Janney, a former actress and homemaker, and Jervis Spencer Janney Jr., a real estate developer and jazz musician, Allison Brooks Janney was born on November 19, 1959, in Dayton, Ohio. Like her musician father, Allison's two brothers, Hal (born in 1961) and Jay (born in 1958), are also both musicians. Her grandfather, Stuart Janney, owned many racehorses, including the famous Ruffian, which is considered by many to be the greatest female racehorse of all time.

Allison attended The Miami Valley School in Dayton, Ohio, and the Hotchkiss School in Connecticut. She had dreams of becoming an Olympic skater before a freak accident during her senior year of high school derailed her plans. She was attending a dance in a strapless gown when someone stepped on her skirt and tore her dress. In an effort to preserve her dignity, Allison ran blindly through a glass door and was severely injured.

After recovering, Allison went to Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio. During her time there, Allison won a role in a play directed by Kenyon alumnus Paul Newman. Newman's wife, Joanne Woodward, encouraged the aspiring actress and suggested she study at NYC's Neighborhood Playhouse.

Graduating from Kenyon in 1982, Allison attended NYC's Neighborhood Playhouse from 1982 to 1984. She also honed in on her craft at the prestigious Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts (RADA), in London, England.

After splitting from longtime partner Dennis Gagomiros (a computer programmer; met at the New York City Playhouse in 1982; together 1994-2001), Allison began dating actor Richard Jenik (born November 21, 1967) in February 2003. They became engaged on May 17, 2004, during a weekend getaway in San Francisco. She now lives across the street from her ''The West Wing'' (1999) co-star, Janel Moloney.


Present Laughter

Career:

While studying at Kenyon, Allison Janney was discovered by Paul Newman, whose wife Joanne Woodward suggested Janney hone in on her craft at the NYC's Neighborhood Playhouse. She would later sharpen her skills at the well-known London's Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts (RADA). Despite her credentials, the young actress had difficulty getting an agent because of her height (reportedly she is 6’). 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.

About her height that affected her acting career, Janney once recalled, "Years ago, one casting agent told me that the only roles I could play were lesbians and aliens.''

In the late 1980s, Janney landed her film debut in director Robert Brooks' coming-of-age independent film set in Brooklyn during the late '50s, "Who Shot Patakango?" (1989), starring Sandra Bullock. In the early 1990s, she began receiving recurring roles in the CBS short-lived "Morton & Hayes," NBC's legal drama "Law & Order," and the CBS Emmy-winning, longest-running soap opera "The Guiding Light," in which she played a wisecracking maid named Ginger from 1993 to 1995.

Meanwhile, Janney also played bit parts in several films, including a NYPD computer operator in the action/comedy starring Woody Harrelson and Kiefer Sutherland, "The Cowboy Way," and a party guest in the werewolf horror film directed by Mike Nichols and starring Jack Nicholson and Michelle Pfeiffer, "Wolf" (both in 1994). She was also featured in her first prominent stage role in the Off-Broadway play by Nicky Silver, "Fat Men in Skirts," which also marked her first collaboration with Stanley Tucci.

In 1995, Janney starred as Mrs. Pascal in Wendy MacLeod's "The House of Yes" at the SoHo Repertory Theater in New York City and made a well-received Broadway debut the following year opposite Frank Langella in a revival of Noel Coward's 1939 play, "Present Laughter." Playing the sophisticated ex-wife of a neurotic matinee idol (Langella) in her first Broadway presentation, Janney received rave reviews and won an Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play for "Present Laughter" in 1997, an award she shared with Deborah Findlay and Celia Weston.

Janney scored her breakthrough screen role as Ann, the shy floral shop owner who became the love interest of Tony Shalhoub's character, in "Big Night" (1996), a period comedic drama film co-written, co-directed and co-starred in by Tucci. The film, which also starred Marc Anthony, received critical acclaim in the United States and internationally and was nominated for the "Grand Jury Prize" at the Sundance Film Festival and the "Grand Special Prize" at the Deauville Film Festival. She also had featured roles in the 1997 films "Private Parts," the Betty Thomas-directed biopic of shock jock Howard Stern, "The Ice Storm," Ang Lee's film adaptation of Rick Moody's 1994 novel, and "Julian Po," Alan Wade's big screen version of Branimir Scepanovic's book.

Janney returned to Broadway, opposite Anthony LaPaglia, in Arthur Miller's "A View From the Bridge" (1998), for which she received a Tony nomination for Best Actress (Play) for her turn as the wife of a longshoreman. LaPaglia was eventually replaced by Tony Danza. That same year, Janney was also seen as Jennifer Aniston's stepsister and Alan Alda's wife in Nicholas Hytner's take on Stephen McCauley's novel, "The Object of My Affection," and as a con artist aboard a luxury liner in writer/director/co-star Stanley Tucci's slapstick comedy "The Impostors."

By this time, Janney has done remarkable work in such made-for-television movies as "...First Do No Harm" (ABC, 1997), "Path to Paradise: The Untold Story of the World Trade Center Bombing" (HBO, 1997) and "David and Lisa" (ABC, 1998).

Rounding up the decade, Janney delivered a scene-stealing role as the trashy best friend of a Midwestern stage mother in Michael Patrick Jann's comedy starring Kirstie Alley, Ellen Barkin, Denise Richards and Kirsten Dunst, "Drop Dead Gorgeous," and had similar memorable turns in the romantic comedy starring Julia Stiles and Heath Ledger, "10 Things I Hate About You.” She was also seen in Sam Mendes' Oscar-winning comedy/drama "American Beauty," as a catatonic, middle-aged wife of a tyrannical husband (played by Chris Cooper). Her brilliant turn in the latter film won her an Online Film Critics Society Award for Best Ensemble Cast Performance and a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Theatrical Motion Picture.

Meanwhile, on stage, Janney nabbed her first major Shakespearean role as Kate in "The Taming of the Shrew," opposite Jay O Sanders in NYC's Central Park.

1999 also marked Janney's primetime series debut as Claudia Jean 'C.J.' Cregg, the presidential press secretary turned Chief of Staff, in the popular and critically applauded NBC political drama series "The West Wing." She was a cast member of the show from 1999 to 2006 and her outstanding performance won a handful of awards, most notably Emmy's Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series (2002; 2004), Emmy's Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series (2000; 2001), Screen Actors Guild's Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series (2001; 2002), Screen Actors Guild's Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series (2001; 2002), and Satellite Awards' Best Performance by an Actress in a Series – Drama (2001).

When asked where she keeps all that Emmy Awards, Janney revealed, "Very recently, I had a shelf built above my new TV set so they're actually above the TV. They look wonderful. Anyone who comes over my house to watch anything is reminded of them!"

During her hefty stint in "The West Wing," Janney had a memorable supporting role in Neil LaBute's comedy, crime, drama film "Nurse Betty" (2000; starring Renée Zellweger, Morgan Freeman, Chris Rock and Greg Kinnear), as acerbic soap opera writer-producer Lyla Branch. She also joined Rebecca DeMornay and Glenne Headley in the "The Three Sisters" segment of the Showtime anthology special "A Girl Thing" (2001) and appeared in a print ad for Reflect.com.

Allison played Sally Lester, the lesbian lover of Meryl Streep's Clarissa Vaughn, in Stephen Daldry's Oscar-winning film version of Michael Cunningham's award-winning novel, "The Hours" (2002), Mandy Moore's divorced, embittered mother in the feature adaptation of Sarah Dessen's two novels, "How To Deal" (2003), and voiced Peach the starfish in the Pixar Oscar-winning computer animated feature "Finding Nemo" (2003).

Additionally, Janney co-starred as Anthony LaPaglia's neighbor in the well-reviewed ensemble drama ''Winter Solstice'' (2004) and was seen in Arie Posin's "The Chumscrubber" (2005) and "Our Very Own" (2005), which earned her an Independent Spirit Award Nomination for Best Supporting Female. The next year, she provided the voice of Gladys, the president of the local homeowners' association, in the computer animated comedy film based on the United Media comic strip, "Over the Hedge."

Following the demise of "The West Wing," Janney was spotted as a guest in a February 2007 episode of CBS’ sitcom starring Charlie Sheen, "Two and a Half Men." She was also cast as Prudy Pingleton, the conservative mother of Penny (played by Amanda Bynes), in Adam Shankman's big screen version of the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical, "Hairspray.”

Also that year, Janney co-starred as Brenda ''Bren'' McGuff, the stepmother of a pregnant teen (played by Ellen Page), in Jason Reitman's box office hit and Oscar nominated quirky comedy movie, "Juno."

Janney has wrapped up an upcoming drama film by writer/director Kenneth Lonergan, which stars Oscar winner Anna Paquin, "Margaret," and is currently working on writer/director Tate Taylor's upcoming comedy movie called "Pretty Ugly People," in which she will co-star with Missi Pyle.

As for her stage work, Janney is set to begin rehearsals for her starring role in the Los Angeles stage musical, "9 to 5," portraying Violet, the character portrayed by comedian Lily Tomlin in the 1980 film which was later made into a short-lived TV show without the movie's original stars. The new production of "9 to 5" is slated to begin in Los Angeles in September and will possibly move to Broadway.

Janney revealed, "Lily [Tomlin] is thrilled that I'm doing it. I'm doing my singing and dancing lessons and getting myself in shape."


Awards:

  • Hollywood Film Festival: Ensemble of the Year, "Hairspray," 2007

  • Prism: Performance in a TV-Movie, "Our Very Own," 2007

  • Emmy: Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series, ''The West Wing,'' 2004

  • Emmy: Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series, ''The West Wing,'' 2002

  • Screen Actors Guild: Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series, ''The West Wing,'' 2002

  • Screen Actors Guild: Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series, ''The West Wing,'' 2002

  • Emmy: Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series, ''The West Wing,'' 2001

  • Screen Actors Guild: Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series, ''The West Wing,'' 2001

  • Screen Actors Guild: Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series, ''The West Wing,'' 2001

  • Satellite Awards: Best Performance by an Actress in a Series - Drama, ''The West Wing,'' 2001

  • Emmy: Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series, ''The West Wing,'' 2000

  • Online Film Critics Society Awards: Best Ensemble Cast Performance, ''American Beauty,'' 2000

  • Screen Actors Guild: Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Theatrical Motion Picture, ''American Beauty,'' 2000

  • Outer Critics Circle: Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play, "Present Laughter," 1997 (shared with Deborah Findlay and Celia Weston)

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