Allison Janney is so believable as White House press secretary C.J. Cregg on the television show The West Wing. How did she get into acting?
—Annette K., Indiana
Allison Janney's mother urged her daughter to chase her dream. "My mother had studied acting at the Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City (she roomed with Eileen Brennan and Rue McClanahan), but decided against an acting career when she got married," Janney says. Janney, raised in Dayton, Ohio, also got words of encouragement from screen legends Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward, who came to her college—Newman's alma mater—to dedicate its new theater. Janney, whose screen credits include the movies Primary Colors and Six Days, Seven Nights, sees her character on The West Wing as a good fit for her. "The script was really great, and I immediately responded to the character," she says. Indeed, she plays the character so well that she won an Emmy Award during the show's first season.