Allison Janney Returns to Washington
The Oscar-winning actress and newest Rosewood Curator on her enduring love affair with D.C.
The romanticized version of the nation’s capital portrayed in The West Wing may not be quite the same as reality. But the show’s idealized version of Washington D.C., the city, still very much exists. Just ask Allison Janney, who portrayed C.J. Cregg, the show’s beloved press secretary and later, chief of staff. Janney spent seven years visiting Washington four times a year to film the show. Since then she has appeared on Broadway and in hit films including The Help, The Girl on the Train and I, Tonya, for which she received an Academy Award for her portrayal of Tonya Harding’s mother, LaVona Golden.
Washington remains one of her favorite destinations for its splendid monuments and celebrated cultural offerings. “Working on a show like The West Wing, I felt like that was a passport to D.C.,” she explains. “We showed the Camelot version of what goes on in Washington, and people were really grateful for what we were doing. I always felt I had a sense of belonging.”
In her newest role as Rosewood Curator, Janney shares why she still loves D.C..
Soaking in its European Flair
“If I had to describe Washington in three words, I would say history, beauty and elegance,” says Janney. “It has a very European feel to it, so you can stay right here in the States and get a European flavor from the beauty of L’Enfant’s design for the city.”
Seeing the Monuments at Night
Visiting the National Mall at night is “one of the most iconic experiences you can have,” says Janney. “It’s spectacular, the way they’re lit, and the history. It’s a must.”
Touring the White House and Capitol
Janney also recommends visitors return to C.J.’s stomping grounds by visiting the White House and Capitol Building. The latter’s massive dome is once again visible after two years hidden under scaffolding for a multimillion dollar renovation.
Shopping on M Street
Georgetown’s main street, lined with 19th-century buildings that now house a mix of one-of-a-kind local boutiques and international designers, is where Janney goes for retail therapy. She makes a day of it by visiting the nearby campus of Georgetown University as well.
Strolling through Shaw
On the eastern end of U Street, Shaw is Janney’s favorite neighborhood to wander by foot. She recommends stopping by its restaurants and bars, which have a “warm, intimate feel.”
Along with being America’s political capital, Washington has of late become one of its leading food cities. Janney makes sure to eat at Rose’s Luxury—chef Aaron Silverman’s ode to New American cuisine with a cultish following— and Komi, a prix-fixe Mediterranean restaurant. “It’s my go to for special occasions.”
The city’s museums
Washington is home to more than 70 museums. Janney’s two favorites? The Phillips Collection, with its well curated exhibits of American and European modern art, and The National Portrait Gallery. “It’s home to great Americana and has an enclosed terrace that’s a perfect spot for lunch.”
The Kennedy Center
Janney received her Actors’ Equity card for her role opposite Richard Thomas in the play Citizen Tom Paine at The Kennedy Center. “It was an extraordinary time in my life,” she recalls. This year, Gianandrea Noseda has taken the helm as Music Director for the National Symphony Orchestra, which is based at Kennedy Center. The program includes centennial celebrations of Leonard Bernstein and Ingmar Bergman, and brings the likes of Leslie Odom Jr. and Cynthia Erivo to the stage for Pops performances. Also on this season: Broadway hits like An American in Paris and, of particular interest to Washingtonians, Hamilton.