Oscar Actors: Janney, Allison–Background, Career, Awards, Cumulative Advantage (Emmy, Tony)

Allison Janney Career Summary:

Occup, Inheritance: Yes, mother former actress; father, electrician, jazz musician

Social class: Middle

Formal Education:

Training: RADA scholarship; Pasadena Playhouse

Spotted by Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward

Stage Debut:

Broadway Debut: Present Laughter, 1996, age 37

Breakthrough Role: TV’s The West Wing, 1999-2006; age 40-46

Oscar Awards: 1, Supp, Actress, I, Tonya, 2017; age 58

Other Awards: 7 Emmy Awards; Tony

Pattern: TV more important; first recognition came for TV work; then Oscar

Marriage: No



Allison Brooks Janney born November 19, 1959 is the recipient of numerous accolades, including an Oscar Award and 7 Primetime Emmy Awards.

Grammy Awards

After years of minor and uncredited film and TV appearances, Janney’s breakthrough came with the role of C. J. Cregg in the NBC political drama, “The West Wing,” 1999–2006, for which she received 4 Primetime Emmy Awards.

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 5 consecutive Primetime Emmy Award nominations and won her two Primetime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series.

Broadway Debut: Tony Award

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,” at age 37. 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 (1997), Primary Colors (1998), 10 Things I Hate About You (1999), Drop Dead Gorgeous (1999), American Beauty (1999), Nurse Betty (2000), The Hours (2002), Finding Nemo (2003), Over the Hedge (2006), Hairspray (2007), Juno (2007), The Help (2011), The Way, Way Back (2013), Tammy (2014), Minions (2015), Spy (2015), Tallulah (2016), The Girl on the Train (2016), Bad Education (2019), The Addams Family (2019), and Bombshell (2019).

Supporting Actress Oscar

In 2017, for her portrayal of LaVona Golden in the black comedy film I, Tonya, Janney won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar.

Allison Brooks Janney was born on November 19, 1959 in Boston, MA, 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 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. She then attended Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio. Janney won a scholarship to study at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in the summer of 1984, after graduation from Kenyon.

Actors Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward met Janney at a play as the inaugural event of the school’s newly dedicated Bolton Theater, during her freshmen year at Kenyon which Newman was directing, they encouraged her to continue acting.

She then went on to train at the Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre in New York and did summer programs at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London.

She attended The Neighborhood Playhouse for two years.

Bit Roles on TV

Janney’s first role on TV 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, playing Vi Kaminski for a short time on As the World Turns, and 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 during the fictitious Democratic administration of Josiah Bartlet, Janney plays C. J. Cregg, the efficient, whip-smart White House Press Secretary who masterfully navigates the egos and pathos of the politicians.  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.

Janney’s breakout role earnedng her four Primetime Emmy Awards, four Screen Actors Guild Award, a Satellite Award and four Golden Globe nominations, making her the series’ most awarded cast member.