Allison Janney For President

Toronto International Film Festival 2011

Ok. Not literally, people. Come on, the woman doesn’t even like politics. She doesn’t trust it (neither do I. Except Obama, of course). When I say ‘Allison Janney For President’ I mean it symbolically. As a compliment paid to a distinguished artist who is making the world a little better through her art and her life.

Truth be told, I stole that line from my sister. I did not stop laughing for hours after hearing her say ‘Anita For President’, in response to my friend Michelle’s portrayal of Anita in 1st Broadway National Tour of West Side Story. My sister was so taken with that performance that she just believed Anita was real was going to conquer the world one Jet at a time. It also helped that, as a person, Michelle is the coolest girl around.

That’s how I feel about Allison Janney. Forget the fact that she played one of the most powerful and memorable characters on television (CJ Cregg). Or the fact that she transforms herself for every role (think Drop Dead Gorgeous or Juno). Or even the fact that she stands out even while sharing screen time with some of hollywood’s greatest, like Meryl Streep. The really outstanding thing is the honesty and humanity she brings to everything she does. That’s the part that makes people think they know her, love her and want to be like her.

I think Allison Janney snuck up on me like I think she did for most people of my generation. I was aware of The West Wing but didn’t really watch it while it was on the air. I thought it would depress me like politics tends to do. I definitely had seen most movies that she’d done, but somehow took them all for granted. It wasn’t until 2009 that I really started to pay attention. I went to go see 9 to 5 on Broadway and was blown away by this Film and Television actress stealing every scene on that stage. Thanks to my Playbill (and later at home, IMDB), I discovered I knew more about Allison Janney than I had thought. I started to realize that I had been a fan without realizing it.

The cast of 9 to 5: The Musical. Megan Hilty, Allison Janney and Stephanie J. Block

Then, after the mega success of Juno and then last year’s The Help, I think it was pretty safe to say that I and most of my generation were on the Janney campaign bus. It’s also worth mentioning that her numerous appearances on The Ellen Degeneres Show always kept her on our radar AND showed us what a hilarious, warm and kind person she was. After all, if Ellen loves you, you must be doing something right.

So, I was not surprised that when my roommates and I started watching all the seasons of The West Wing, Allison Janney quickly became one of our favorites. I know she’s an incredibly trained actress having studied in London and at The Neighbourhood Playhouse in NYC, but still, the facility with which she delivers those massive Sorkin monologues or the way that she can emote incredible love for her friends and castmates is just crazy! How can she be THAT good? Well, on The West Wing it definitely helped that she had an incredible group of actors to play with. One of the best ensembles EVER on television. It also helped that they really got along. I especially have a soft spot for CJ and Toby…and also Allison and Richard Schiff. It is the type of ensemble and relationships that actors strive for.

Toby Ziegler and CJ Cregg….I mean….Richard Schiff and Allison Janney 

CJ Cregg is the career woman and friend I want to be, and Allison Janney the actress, humanitarian and role model I admire. Although there are many, this is one interview that I think embodies the essence of this wonderful artist. It was filmed during the 2009 Drama Desk Awards in NYC after she won for her performance in 9 to 5.


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