Janel Moloney

Janel Moloney Headshot

Actress

Birth Date: October 3, 1969

Age: 54 years old

Birth Place: Woodland Hills, California

A classic California blond, Janel Moloney grew up in the Los Angeles suburb of Woodland Hills and knew from a young age she wanted to be an actress. The youngest in a tight-knit family of four children, Moloney has a fraternal twin. She studied dance from the age of five to fifteen but has always said she knew she wanted to be an actress and a serious, professional one at that. As a child, Moloney would often put on performances for her family, mostly from the musical "Annie," her favorite musical at the time. She admits her gracious family put up with the fact that Moloney's strong suit was not her singing voice.

When she was a little older, Moloney would often watch the performances being put on at the local junior high. But she didn't get her own taste of the stage until high school, where her first part was Bianca in Shakespeare's "Taming of the Shrew." Moloney continued to act throughout high school and applied to go to college at the world-famous Julliard School in New York City. She didn't get accepted and instead went to the State University of New York at Purchase, a school also known for its arts programs.

Moloney spent one very unhappy year at Purchase and at one point penned a sorrowful letter to famed acting coach Roy London. London replied to her letter and told her to come back to Los Angeles and study with him. Moloney promptly took his advice and, in 1989, flew back to her native coast. She studied intensely with London and cites his teachings as having a profound influence on her career.

Success did not come quickly or easily to Moloney. She went on auditions constantly and managed to land a few bit parts here and there. She waitressed during this time to support herself and relied on the support of her family to keep her going. It was not until 1998, when Moloney got a guest appearance on ABC's "Sports Night," that Moloney would find fortune on her side. Writer/creator Aaron Sorkin and executive producer Tommy Schlamme took a shine to Moloney and gave her a bit part in their upcoming pilot for NBC, "The West Wing." She was cast in a small role as a White House staffer in the pilot.

Sorkin and Schlamme felt she did such a good job that she needed a larger part. Her role was changed to Donatella Moss, assistant to Deputy Chief of Staff Josh Lyman. By the end of the first season, she was made a regular cast member. The romantic tension between Moloney's character and her boss, Josh Lyman (played by Brad Whitford), became a constant focal point in the show and a huge topic of speculation for "West Wing" fans.

Moloney has appeared in several features, such as "'Till There Was You" (1997) and the critically acclaimed independent "The Souler Opposite" (1998). She also appears in the Showtime movie "Bang, Bang, You're Dead," inspired by the one-act play of the same title by award-winning writer William Mastrosimone, about the social challenges and physical violence in high schools today.

Credits

Law & Order: Organized CrimeStream

Guest Star
Deputy Inspector Lillian Goldfarb
Series
2021

A West Wing Special to Benefit When We All Vote

Actor
Donna Moss
Show
2020

FBIStream

Guest Star
Hannah Thompson
Series
2018

The Leisure Seeker

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Jane
Movie
2017

BullStream

Guest Star
ADA Sutherland
Series
2016

American CrimeStream

Guest Star
Raelyn
Series
2015
96%

The LeftoversStream

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Mary Jamison
Series
2014
91%

The LeftoversStream

Guest Star
Mary Jamison
Series
2014
91%

Stay Then Go

Actor
Marion Baird
Movie
2014

The BlacklistStream

Guest Star
Kat Goodson
Series
2013
91%

Concussion

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Pru
Movie
2013

Armless

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Anna
Movie
2010

The Good WifeStream

Guest Star
Kathy Eisenstadt
Series
2009
93%

Life on MarsStream

Guest Star
Series
2008

BrotherhoodStream

Guest Star
Dana Chase
Series
2006
79%

Amber Frey: Witness for the Prosecution

Actor
Amber Frey
Movie
2005

HouseStream

Guest Star
Maggie
Series
2004
90%

Bang Bang You're Dead

Actor
Ellie Milford
Movie
2002

Law & Order: Criminal IntentStream

Guest Star
Allison Wyler
Series
2001

The West WingStream

Actor
Donna Moss
Series
1999
81%

Law & Order: Special Victims UnitStream

Guest Star
Dr. Franchella
Series
1999
78%

Desperate Measures

Actor
Sarah Davis
Movie
1997

The Souler Opposite

Actor
Thea Douglas
Movie
1997

High Incident

Guest Star
Show
1996

Safe

Actor
Hairdresser
Movie
1995

To Save a Child

Actor
Janelle Lowry
Movie
1991

... And Then She Was Gone

Actor
Mary
Movie
1991

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