You’ve got to give Allison Janney props — she knows how to bring attention to a nationwide crisis.
Janney, perhaps best known for her role as presidential press secretary C.J. Cregg on The West Wing, channelled her former Emmy-winning role on Friday in the White House press briefing, much to the delight of the press assembled to hear real press secretary Josh Earnest speak about the recent goings on.
Ok, this has basically made my day – CJ Cregg/Alison Janney takes over White House press briefing ❤️ https://t.co/uB3wa8TDXW
— elliemarney (@elliemarney) April 30, 2016
Janney also joked that she would be performing “The Jackal” in her office after five, according to Nerdist, in a reference to her alter ego’s lip sync performance of Ronny Jordan’s song of the same name on The West Wing. The real reason for Janney’s podium hijacking, though, was to honor those who were active in supporting those fighting against substance abuse disorder.
Janney won four Emmy Awards for her role as C.J. Cregg and one for her role as Bonnie Plunkett, a recovering alcoholic and drug addict on the series Mom. According to Janney, substance abuse is an issue which she believes in continuing to address.
“All of us can help reduce drug abuse through evidence-based treatment, prevention, and recovery,” she said, according to People.
As for Earnest, Janney told the delighted reporters that he was out for a root canal, a clear reference to when The West Wing character Josh Lyman took over the White House briefing when Janney’s character, CJ herself, was out for a root canal. Earnest showed up at the briefing, though, grinning and clearly in on the joke. According to Fortune, Earnest pointed out that Janney was actually there for a purpose — to honor 10 individuals who have been staunch advocates in the fight against substance abuse.
Her podium time done, Janney was readying herself to step down when a reporter stopped and asked who President Bartlet — the president from The West Wing — was supporting in the current presidential race. Janney was not going to let the reporter down as she turned and dryly said, “I think you know the answer to that question,” as she stepped away from the dais, according to People.
The West Wing’s Alison Janney, aka CJ Cregg, briefed the press at the White House today https://t.co/fEXLdA0p7d
— Vox (@voxdotcom) April 29, 2016
Janney’s appearance was part of the White House’s Champions of Change, according to Business Insider, and the honor this year goes to those who are helping against prescription drug and heroin abuse, which has reached epidemic proportions in the United States. She appeared at the White House press briefing with Mom executive producer Chuck Lorre, whom she acknowledged in her address to the reporters.
Janney is by no means the only alumnus from The West Wing to recall her character with fondness. In 2012, Janney, Richard Schiff, Bradley Whitford, Mary McCormack, Janel Moloney, and others from the show banded together to film a PSA so reminiscent of The West Wing that, according to BuddyTV, it could have generated chills. Designed to pump up viewer support for voting, it was as much a love letter to the political series as it was a means of trying to inspire people to get out and vote, particularly for Mary McCormack’s sister, Bridget Mary McCormack, who was running for Supreme Court Justice in Michigan at the time.
Now, though, Janney is trying to inspire people to recognize those who are fighting against substance abuse disorder, a terribly serious condition that affects some 20.2 million adults, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website’s 2014 survey. Of that 20.2 million, 7.9 million had both a substance abuse disorder and a mental health disorder.
Although Janney’s purpose in visiting the White House Briefing Room was serious, it was clearly a visit to remember for some time as fans of The West Wing wonder when C.J. Cregg might be joined once again by her colleagues from the Bartlet administration.
[Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images]