Award-winning actress Allison Brooks Janney '77 received the 2016 Alumni Award in an All-School assembly on Oct. 11. Janney is the first woman to receive the prestigious award, which was established in 1931 to recognize distinguished careers and personal achievements of Hotchkiss alumni.
Janney came to Hotchkiss as an upper mid in 1975, the year after the School admitted its first coed class. She was a proctor in Buehler, a left fullback on the varsity field hockey team, and a regular in School theater productions. In a Q&A with fellow alumnus Ray McGuire '75 during the award ceremony, Janney spoke about her journey to becoming an actress — from her first Hotchkiss play to studying theater with Paul Newman at Kenyon College to landing her first major Broadway role in a 1996 revival of Noel Coward's Present Laughter. Since then, she's amassed more than 115 credits in plays, films, and TV shows, as well as seven Emmy awards and six Screen Actors Guild awards.
Currently, Janney stars in the CBS sitcom Mom, for which she won two of her seven Emmys; in 2014, she earned Emmy awards for her roles in both Mom and the Showtime series Masters of Sex, a rare accomplishment. Prior to Mom, Janney is perhaps best known for her role in The West Wing as CJ Cregg, press secretary and, later, chief of staff to President Josiah Bartlet. Her recent film work includes roles in Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children and The Girl on the Train; previously, she starred in Minions (produced by classmate Christopher Meledandri '77); Spy; Juno; The Way, Way Back; The Hours, and American Beauty, among many others.
During the Alumni Award ceremony, Head of School Craig Bradley presented Janney with one more honor: the 1977 Edwards Drama Prize, which she earned in her senior year at Hotchkiss, but never collected. Following the ceremony, Janney met with theatre, film, and photography students, sharing her insights into building an acting career.
"There were many, many tearful subway rides," she said. "But every time I thought I was done, a door would open for me somewhere else, and I just kept on going."
A video of the event will be available shortly.