Celebrity Then And Now
Publication: Albany Daily News. Posted by Lexi Schwartz
Celebrity Then And Now
Posted by Lexi Schwartz
Mad Men, The Last Man on Earth
Currently Known For:
Actress and Model
2000s - Present
January 5, 1978
Mad Men, The Last Man on Earth
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“I have that thing in my stomach where I just need to keep striving for things. In my mind, I want the fairytale.” January Jones might have launched her acting career in the late 1990s, but she didn’t truly become a household name until 2007 when she made her debut as Betty Draper in Mad Men (2007-2015). Earning two Golden Globe Award nominations for Best Actress for her performance, Jones refused to slow down after the series wrapped. She joined Fox’s comedy television series The Last Man on Earth (2015-2018) and, most recently, joined the casts of The Politician (2019) and Spinning Out (2019). Also a single mother determined not to settle for anything less than extraordinary, the 41-year-old Jones does things her own way in Hollywood and it’s obviously working!
1970s to Stardom
One of three daughters born to a store manager and a gym teacher from Sioux Falls, South Dakota, January Jones came into this world on January 5, 1978. She enjoyed a pleasant childhood in South Dakota and graduated high school at the top of her class. Shortly after graduation, she was spotted by a modeling scout who invited her to New York for a few screen tests. “My mum made sure it wasn’t a prostitution ring,” Jones said of her mother’s concern prior to letting her venture to New York for the first time.
Once in New York, Jones modeled for Abercrombie & Fitch and Versace in addition to appearing in campaigns for products like Clearasil. She appeared in dozens of international fashion magazines and graced the covers of publications like Rolling Stone, Marie Claire, Harper’s Bazaar, Glamour, Red, Town & Country, and The Hollywood Reporter. Abroad, she appeared on the covers of Cosmopolitan Germany, Grazia in Iran, and GQ Italy.
Jones was 21 when she made her film debut in It’s the Rage (1999). She turned her attention to television and appeared in an episode of Get Real (1999) before filming the pilot for Sorority (1999). This pattern repeated itself for the next several years as Jones looked for her next big break but kept coming up short with credits in In My Life (2002), Love’s Enduring Promise (2004), and Huff (2005). In film, her luck seemed marginally better with credits in The Glass House (2001), Bandits (2001), Taboo (2002), Full Frontal (2002), Anger Management (2003), American Wedding (2003), Love Actually (2003), and Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights (2004).
Finally, Jones caught a huge break in 2007 when she was cast as Betty Draper, a young suburban housewife and mother, opposite Jon Hamm in Mad Men on AMC. Coincidentally, Betty Draper wasn’t meant to be a prominent figure in the series, but Jones made a lasting impression during her audition that earned her an even bigger role. “Her audition was spectacular,” the show’s creator, Matthew Weiner, said. “I made sure that, starting with the second episode, she would be placed front and center.”
Weiner kept his promise and made Jones a star as she earned two Golden Globe Award nominations and an Emmy Award nomination for her performance on the series from 2007 to 2015. Because of the show’s critical success, Jones didn’t have any trouble finding other projects to keep her busy and was named one of the hottest women in the world by both Maxim and GQ magazines. She hosted Saturday Night Live and starred in thrillers like Unknown (2011) with Liam Neeson and Seeking Justice (2011) with Nicolas Cage. She was also cast as Emma Frost in X-Men: First Class (2011).
Life After Mad Men
After wrapping up Mad Men in 2015, Jones refused to worry about being typecast. “If it happens, I’d rather get to play that because there’s nothing fun about being sweet,” she said of being typecast as a horrible person. “Sweet can be so boring, so I’d be happy staying away from that.” Fortunately, she didn’t have to worry when she landed her next starring role as Melissa Chartres on the Fox television comedy The Last Man on Earth (2015-2018).
“I’ve done so much more than I ever would have hoped for,” she said of landing another starring role. “I don’t have a 40 by 40 list. I have no New Year’s resolutions. Everything I’ve done is everything I would have dreamed of. I have had the most wonderful, unexpected, joyous life. Bizarre to me. Maybe because I never asked for it.”
Part of Jones’ contentment with her life and career came to fruition on September 13, 2011, when she welcomed her son, Xander Dane Jones, into the world. She has never revealed the father’s identity and has no plans to do so since she’s content being a single mom. “My younger sisters and my mum and my doula were in the room,” she said of her son’s birth. “I was embarrassed—your body does all these crazy things. It was a 30-hour process, but it was awesome.”
As far as jumping into a new relationship, the 41-year-old Jones isn’t looking for her happily ever after since she’s already built one for herself. “Something else would suffer if a relationship came along,” she says. “Yes, I’m willing to make that sacrifice for the right relationship—I just don’t feel I need a partner. Do I want one? Maybe. But I don’t feel unhappy or lonely. It would have to be someone so amazing that I would want to make room. Someone who would contribute to my happiness and not take away from it. I realize I have very high expectations and will probably have to compromise, but my life is so full.”
Too busy focusing on her son and surrounding him with strong energy, Jones made her last film appearance in Unity (2015) but has stayed busy on television with her most recent credits coming in The Politician (2019) and Spinning Out (2019). In her spare time, she cooks on the weekend, watches football with friends, and indulges in reality television after she puts her son to bed. Beyond that, her fears have more to do with motherhood than Hollywood. “It’s mostly about being a mum,” she says of her worries. “Am I failing at life? Am I failing at him?” As far as Hollywood, she says, “I’ve been lucky with my choices. I’m very strong-willed so I’ve been able to stick with it. I know I’m lucky there.”