After making a splash with her breakthrough role in “American Wedding” (2003), actress January Jones quickly rose up the ranks to become a prominent screen presence in film and on television. Prior to her emergence, Jones started her career as a model, which naturally segued into acting. She made the rounds of independent film and guest spots on television, landing a small role in “All the Rage” (1999) while appearing in the pilot episode of “Get Real” (Fox, 1999-2000). After supporting roles in the features “Anger Management” (2001) and “Love Actually,” she continued her rise with more notable features and bigger parts in such fare as “Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights” (2004) and “The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada” (2005). But it was her regular series role on the critically acclaimed “Mad Men” (AMC, 2007- ) that earned Jones serious consideration as an actress.
Born on Jan. 5, 1978 in Sioux Falls, SD, Jones was named by her parents after the character January Wayne from Jacqueline Susann’s novel, Once is Not Enough. While attending Roosevelt High School, Jones spent her pre-modeling, pre-Hollywood time toiling away at a local Dairy Queen. At 18, she moved to New York City and made her first mark as a stunning model for hip suburban clothier Abercrombie & Fitch. After moving to Los Angeles to become an actress, Jones made her debut with a small role in the independent film “All the Rage” (1999), starring Jeff Daniels and Anna Paquin. She followed with a guest appearance in the Fox pilot, “Get Real,” an irreverent family drama told from the perspective of three teenagers. Two years later, she had her biggest break to date when she landed a role in her first major motion picture, the teen-oriented thriller “The Glass House” (2001), starring Leelee Sobieski.
Like all young and beautiful starlets on the cusp of fame, Jones quickly became a fixture on the young Hollywood scene. Her blonde beauty attracted a variety of male admirers, including then-relatively unknown pre-Demi Moore paramour Ashton Kutcher. The couple, who reportedly met in 1998 at an Abercrombie & Fitch shoot, dated for three years until Kutcher became enchanted with Moore. Jones moved on to funnyman extraordinaire Jim Carrey and “American Wedding” co-star Seann William Scott before meeting and falling for pop-classical singer and favorite “Oprah” guest, Josh Groban, in 2003. Meanwhile, Jones continued to hone her acting chops, landing roles in a variety of high-profile projects, playing a bank robber in the Bruce Willis-Billy Bob Thornton crime comedy “Bandits” (2001), a memorable lesbian sexpot with temperament issues in the Adam Sandler-Jack Nicholson hit comedy, “Anger Management” (2003), and a British tourist in the hit romantic comedy, "Love Actually" (2003). At the time her career began to heat up, Jones was featured as #82 in Maxim magazine's "Hot 100 of 2002" supplement. Next up was the star-making role of Cadence Flaherty, the beautiful sister and maid of honor to the not-so-blushing bride (Alyson Hannigan), as well as the love interest of an obnoxious hound (Seann William Scott) in “American Wedding” (2003).
Though the film tanked, Jones received her first major coverage for a role that she had won from literally thousands of on-the-brink ingénues. Looking for further challenges, Jones learned how to swing dance for her role in “Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights” (2004), the critically maligned sequel to the 1987 dance classic. In a journey back to the small screen, she appeared in the recurring role of Marissa Wells on "Huff" (Showtime, 2004-06), a drama about a psychologist (Hank Azaria) who attempts to salvage the lives of his patients, while his own spirals down the drain. The actress continued to expand her range as a dramatic actress by portraying Barry Pepper’s repressed wife in Oscar-winning actor Tommy Lee Jones’ directorial debut, “The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada” (2005). After a small supporting part in the earnest, but ultimately humdrum “We Are Marshall” (2006), Jones landed her most significant role to date on the wildly acclaimed series, “Mad Men” (AMC, 2007- ), a subtle and darkly textured drama that depicts society and culture in the early 1960s as seen through the eyes of Madison Avenue advertising executives. Jones played Elizabeth “Betty” Draper, the wife of Sterling Cooper’s junior partner, Don Draper (Jon Hamm), whose crushing dissatisfaction with life as a suburban housewife and mother causes deep psychological and emotional distress, which becomes heightened by her growing knowledge of her husband’s infidelities. The series earned 16 Emmy Award nominations, including one for Outstanding Drama Series, though Jones was surprisingly left out of the actress categories. She did, however, earn a Golden Globe nomination in 2008 for Best Actress in the television drama category.