Allison Janney

Boston native Allison Janney -- born Nov. 19, 1960 -- grew up dreaming of becoming an Olympic skater until an accident derailed her plans and steered her to acting.

Janney's first career break came after landing a part in a play helmed by Paul Newman and receiving encouragement from Joanne Woodward. But Janney hit her stride in the 1990s with a breakout role in the 1996 film Big Night, followed by quirky parts in The Ice Storm (1997) and American Beauty (1999) -- all the while continuing to stretch herself on stage.

But it was her turn as press secretary C.J. Gregg on the hit political drama "The West Wing" that made Janney a household name and earned her multiple Emmys, along with other industry honors. Her later big-screen efforts of note include Nurse Betty (2000), The Hours (2002) and Finding Nemo (2003). She received an Independent Spirit Award nod in 2010 for her supporting performance in Life During Wartime.