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 "West Wing, The" (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.
She won an Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play for "Present Laughter" in 1997. She shared the award with Deborah Findlay and Celia Weston.
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.
Lives across the street from her "The West Wing" (1999) co-star Janel Moloney.
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.