In TV demographic terms, 54-year-old Allison Janney is almost an “outlier.” That’s the buzzword describing two polar opposite groups: The under 25s and over 55s, whose TV habits seems to baffle today’s eyeball counters.
But wherever she falls on the demo chart, Janney ranks as one midlife actress who’s having a pretty good year. She accomplished the rare feat of winning two Emmys in the same year — something Cloris Leachman did in 1975 and Stockard Channing in 2002. Janney won guest actress at the Creatives last week for Masters Of Sex and now a Best Supporting Actress nod for her CBS comedy Mom.
These are Janney’s first Emmy wins since 2004, then for her role as The West Wing’s White House Press Secretary C.J. Cregg (four wins, five noms for that role). At last week’s awards, she admitted that when West Wing ended it left a “huge hole” in her life. She said she filled the gap by trying a Broadway musical, something “I never thought I would do” (9 to 5: The Musical, 2009).
Backstage after her Emmy win, Janney joked that she has been keeping her previous four Emmys on a shelf above her TV and even before last week’s win she’d rearranged the trophies because “I’d better psychically make room for some more.”
Asked about the radically different roles that gave her Emmys in 2014, Janney said that she never draws a hard line between comedy and drama. Her training at Kenyon College made her flexible. “Often we would do three different plays at the same time, in all different styles of acting,” she said.
Speaking of demographics, Janney was asked backstage whether network audiences ever object to her freewheeling, outspoken, recovering alcoholic Bonnie character on Mom. Although Bonnie does some questionable things “she’s got a big heart, she loves her family, so you forgive her for a lot.” Added Janney with a laugh, “I don’t really troll my Twitter feed for negative comments.”