Beginning in 2000, Allison Janney took home an astounding four Emmys for her seven-season role as C.J. Cregg on The West Wing and scooped up two more in 2015 and 2016 for her role on Mom and a supporting role on Masters of Sex. But the elusive Oscar remained out of her reach. It had even gotten to the point where the actress didn’t dare dream about it because she didn’t want to be disappointed.
The actress admitted that she wasn’t being offered the right kind of roles in films, and she had given up thinking she could ever win such an award. Then, in 2017, Allison Janney portrayed Tonya Harding’s mother, LaVona Fay Golden, in I, Tonya, a role that proved to be Oscar-worthy as the 58-year-old actress took home the trophy for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role at the 2018 Academy Awards.
Screenwriter Steven Rogers, who is a friend of Janney, penned the script for I, Tonya, and the part of the verbally and physically abusive mother of Tonya Harding was written specifically for her. Even before Janney had read the script, or agreed to play the role, Rogers made her involvement a condition of the sale of the script. He’d written other roles for her before, but Janney had never gotten to play them. He knew this role was tailor-made for her as “no one plays a mess as well as Allison.” Beyond that, Janney had been a figure skater herself until her career was sidelined by an injury, but she continues to watch the sport.
When giving her acceptance speech, Janney said she would never be able to thank Rogers for this part. He gave her the opportunity to show a different side of herself and to show what she could do. She joked about giving him a Rolex as a gift. And even after collecting the trophy she didn’t allow herself to dream about, Janney is grateful for the role she plays on Mom, which helps her keep her focused.
“I have to be at a table read for Mom at 10 a.m. tomorrow morning. I am going right back to work and I am so happy to have a job to go to, because this could go to your head. To have this whole journey be over, it has been extraordinary. It’s going to be a big crash down. I’m happy to have the people at Mom to keep me going and keep me focused.”
The producers of Mom helped Janney continue the celebration the morning after the Oscars by presenting her with a bouquet of 90 roses in honor of the Oscar’s 90th anniversary. The cast and crew also toasted Janney, and she passed her Oscar around the table so everyone could take a picture with the dream that is no longer elusive.