Jane Lynch
Lynch at the 2016 Willfilm Awards
Jane Marie Lynch

(1960-07-14) July 14, 1960 (age 61)
EducationIllinois State University (BA)
Cornell University (MFA)
  • Actress
  • comedian
  • author
Years active1986–present
Lara Embry
(m. 2010; div. 2014)

Jane Marie Lynch (born July 14, 1960)[1] is an American actress, comedian, and author. Lynch is known for starring as Sue Sylvester in the Fox musical comedy series Glee (2009–2015), which earned her a Primetime Emmy Award. She also gained recognition for her roles in Christopher Guest's mockumentary films, such as Best in Show (2000), A Mighty Wind (2003), and For Your Consideration (2006).[2][3][4]

Lynch had a recurring role in the CBS sitcom Two and a Half Men (2004–2014), for which she received a nomination for a Primetime Emmy Award, as well as recurring roles in the Showtime drama series The L Word (2005–2009), the CBS police drama series Criminal Minds (2006–2020), the CBS All Access drama series The Good Fight (2017–present), and the Amazon Prime Video period comedy series The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (2017–present), for which she received a Primetime Emmy Award. Since 2013, she has hosted the NBC game show Hollywood Game Night, which has earned her two Primetime Emmy Awards.

Lynch has had roles in numerous mainstream comedy films, such as The 40-Year-Old Virgin (2005), Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (2006), Role Models (2008), Paul (2011), and The Three Stooges (2012). She has lent her voice to numerous animated films, including Space Chimps (2008), Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs (2009), Shrek Forever After (2010), Rio (2011), Wreck-It Ralph (2012), and Ralph Breaks the Internet (2018).

In 2013, Lynch received the 2,505th star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in the television category, located at 6640 Hollywood Blvd. Among her numerous accolades, Lynch has received five Primetime Emmy Awards, two Screen Actors Guild Awards, and a Golden Globe Award.

Early life

Lynch was born in Evergreen Park, Illinois,[5] and raised in Dolton, Illinois, the daughter of a banker father, Frank Joseph Lynch, and a homemaker-secretary mother, Eileen Lynch (née Carney).[6][7][8] Her father was of Irish descent, his parents having come from Sonnagh, near Charlestown and Culduff, Killasser, near Swinford both in County Mayo respectively,[9][10][11] and her mother was of Irish and Swedish ancestry.[12] She was raised in a Catholic family[13] and attended Thornridge High School.[6]


See also: List of Jane Lynch performances

Early work

Lynch spent 15 years in Chicago, acting in the Steppenwolf Theatre Company and, at the time of her audition, was one of only two women picked to join The Second City comedy troupe.[6][14] She then continued to hone her comical and improvisational skills at Annoyance Theater, playing Carol Brady in the theater's The Real Live Brady Bunch. Andy Richter played Mike Brady in the New York shows. He and Lynch became very good friends.[15]

Film work

Lynch got her start in films in 1988, playing a small role in the film Vice Versa. In 1993, she had a secondary role as a doctor alongside Harrison Ford in The Fugitive.[16] She also appeared, that same year, as a reporter in Fatal Instinct.

During the 1990s, she made numerous television commercials, including one for Frosted Flakes for an adult audience, directed by Christopher Guest. A few years later, Guest would remember Lynch, as he chose actors for his 2000 dog show mockumentary, Best in Show. Lynch played Christy Cummings, a butch lesbian personal dog handler to trophy wife Sheri Ann Cabot (Jennifer Coolidge). From there, she became a staple actress in Guest's casts, appearing in the director's A Mighty Wind (2003) as porn actress-turned-folk singer Laurie Bohner and in For Your Consideration (2006) as an entertainment reporter.

Audiences and critics took notice of Lynch for her turn in Judd Apatow's The 40-Year-Old Virgin. She told Fresh Air's Terry Gross that the role was originally intended for a man but also that, at the urging of Steve Carell's wife Nancy Walls, was offered to Lynch instead.[17] From there, she took supporting roles in a series of films including Role Models, Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, Alvin and the Chipmunks, Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, Space Chimps, The Rocker, The Hammer, Another Cinderella Story, Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs, Wreck-It Ralph, and Spring Breakdown.[18]

In Adventures of Power, a comedy about air-drumming released in 2008, Lynch reunited with Michael McKean, her former co-star from For Your Consideration, in the role of Aunt Joanie and starring alongside Ari Gold, Adrian Grenier, Chiu Chi Ling, and Shoshannah Stern. In a role similar to that of her contributions as Sue Sylvester on the Fox musical comedy-drama series Glee, Lynch's role as the encouraging Aunt Joanie to Power, a young musician who plays the air drums because he never had access to musical instruments, promotes the initiative to support music education.[19]

In Julie and Julia, she portrayed Dorothy McWilliams, Julia Child's sister. Entertainment Weekly dedicated an article on its website to the possibility of her performance receiving an Academy Award nomination.[20][21] However, she was not nominated.

Television work

Lynch has appeared in many television series, including The X-Files, L.A. Law, Judging Amy, The West Wing, 7th Heaven, Glee, Desperate Housewives, Friends, NewsRadio, Married With Children, 3rd Rock From The Sun, Dawson's Creek, Felicity, Arrested Development, Lovespring International, Two and a Half Men, Veronica Mars, Weeds, Boston Legal, L Word, Criminal Minds, Help Me Help You, Gilmore Girls, New Adventures of Old Christine, Psych, Monk, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, The King of Queens and Frasier. She also starred with John Hannah and William Fichtner in 2002's MDs and has appeared in the crime drama Criminal Minds as Spencer Reid's schizophrenic mother.

In 2008 she narrated Out & Proud in Chicago, a documentary which tells about LGBT life in Chicago from the Civil War to 2008 through the stories of 20 everyday Chicagoans, from age 30 to age 80.[22]

Jane Lynch at the 69th Annual Peabody Awards for Glee
Jane Lynch at the 69th Annual Peabody Awards for Glee

Beginning in 2009, Lynch appeared as a regular cast member of the Fox series Glee. The role echoed previous guest appearances in The X-Files and Veronica Mars, being her third time cast as a harsh high school teacher. She won glowing reviews for her role as the aggressive cheerleading coach, Sue Sylvester. Mary McNamara of the Los Angeles Times wrote, "Lynch alone makes Glee worth watching."[23] Before her work with Glee, she was a series regular on the Starz comedy Party Down. Though the series was renewed for a second season, Lynch would not be returning, due to her work on Glee.[24]

Even in Glee's early days, Lynch continued to pursue other projects. Lynch hosted Saturday Night Live on October 9, 2010; the news of her hosting was accidentally broken to her by her Glee boss, Ryan Murphy, by text message.[25] Lynch had also guest-starred on the Nickelodeon comedy iCarly as Pam Puckett, Sam Puckett's mother, in the episode "iSam's Mom."

Beginning on July 11, 2013, Lynch hosted the NBC game show Hollywood Game Night. The show had two teams made up of members of the public (civilians) and celebrities competing in various party games, with a chance for the civilians to take home up to $25,000.[26]

Lynch was the co-host of the NBC special New Year's Eve with Carson Daly on December 31, 2013, alongside Carson Daly, host of The Voice.

In 2015, Lynch guest-starred in the television series Girl Meets World in the episode "Girl Meets Farkle's Choice".[27]

On February 21, 2017, Lynch appeared on The Price Is Right as a Celebrity Charity Week contestant.

In March 2013, Lynch was announced as executive producer of comedy web series Dropping the Soap.[28] Lynch starred in the series and was nominated for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Actress in a Short Form Comedy or Drama Series.[29] The series premiered on Dekkoo and was made available on digital platforms including Amazon Video.[30]

In 2017, Lynch portrayed Janet Reno for the Discovery Channel television series, Manhunt: Unabomber.[31]

Also in 2017, Lynch guest-starred in Episode 7 of Marvelous Mrs Maisel as popular but dislikeable comic Sophie Lennon. Lynch returned in the role for two episodes at the end of the second season.[32][33]

In 2019, Lynch joined the main cast of Final Space as A.V.A., the A.I. of the Crimson Light.[34]

In May 2020, it was reported that Lynch will appear in a recurring role on the Netflix comedy series, Space Force.[35]

On July 8, 2020, it was reported by Vulture, that Lynch would host a revival of The Weakest Link on NBC.[36] The show debuted on September 29, 2020.[37]

Other work

Lynch wrote and starred in the award-winning play Oh Sister, My Sister. Originally produced in 1998, the play kicked off the Lesbians in Theater program at the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center in 2004.[38]

She starred in Comcast's XFinity ads, mainly with two different laptops and two different colored Persian cats. She also stars in LG Corp.'s Text Ed campaign to educate drivers about the dangers of texting while driving.[39]

Lynch's first experience hosting an awards show was in 2010 when she hosted the 2010 VH1 DoSomething Awards.[40] It was announced that she will be hosting the 2011 VH1 DoSomething Awards, airing on VH1 on August 18.[41] Lynch hosted the 63rd Primetime Emmy Awards on September 18, 2011, only the third woman in Emmy history to host the awards show solo.[42] According to the edition of September 19 of The Hollywood Reporter, Lynch hosting the Emmys did not help ratings, as viewing was down 8% year over year and eight million fewer people watched the Emmys than watched Michael Vick's return to Atlanta on Sunday Night Football on NBC (21.5 million for Eagles-Falcons, 13.5 million for the Emmys).[43]

(l-r) Governor appointee Don Norte, Dr. Lara Embry, Jane Lynch, and Norte's husband, gay activist Kevin Norte, at Autum P-FLAG 2010's Charitable Event at The London Hotel, West Hollywood
(l-r) Governor appointee Don Norte, Dr. Lara Embry, Jane Lynch, and Norte's husband, gay activist Kevin Norte, at Autum P-FLAG 2010's Charitable Event at The London Hotel, West Hollywood

An autobiography written by Lynch, titled Happy Accidents, was published in the fall of 2011 by Hyperion Voice. Lynch was inspired to write the book after reflecting upon the successes of her past year and wishing she could have told her more anxious, younger self to not worry as much.[44] The memoir also includes detail about her years as an alcoholic and her success in battling this addiction.[45] Lynch is openly lesbian and married Lara Embry in 2010.[46] A self-proclaimed animal lover, Lynch has four rescue dogs.[47] She has recorded a PSA for PETA encouraging the adoption of shelter animals, and she sponsors an annual adoption event at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena.[48][49] She was the commencement speaker for Smith College's class of 2012 where she received an honorary Doctorate in Fine Arts.

In March 2012, Lynch was featured with Martin Sheen, Jamie Lee Curtis, Chris Colfer and Brad Pitt in a performance of Dustin Lance Black's play, '8' – a staged re-enactment of the federal trial that overturned California's Prop 8 ban on same-sex marriage – as Maggie Gallagher.[50] The production was held at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre and broadcast on YouTube to raise money for the American Foundation for Equal Rights.[51][52]

Lynch made her Broadway debut as Miss Hannigan in Annie for a limited engagement lasting from May 15 to July 14, 2013. She took the place of Katie Finneran.[53]

In 2014, Lynch joined the Ban Bossy campaign as a spokesperson advocating leadership roles for girls.[54]

In 2015, Lynch debuted See Jane Sing, a cabaret show in which she sings along with Kate Flannery from The Office and Tim Davis from ABC's Boy Band, accompanied by the Tony Guerrero Quintet. The show continues to tour around the country. In 2016, Lynch released A Swingin' Little Christmas, a nostalgic Christmas album featuring the See Jane Sing ensemble and released on Lynch's own KitschTone Records label. The album received substantial airplay around the country and landed on the Billboard AC Chart's Top 10. In 2017, Lynch recorded a Christmas single with actor Dick Van Dyke. The song was composed and produced by Tony Guerrero and was released by KitschTone Records.

In 2020, Lynch directed her first two TV commercials for the production company STORY,[55] and joined its roster of commercial directors.

Personal life

Lynch was named one of Power Up's "10 Amazing Lesbian Women in Showbiz" in 2005. She married clinical psychologist Lara Embry, whom she met a year earlier at a fundraiser in San Francisco, on May 31, 2010 in Sunderland, Massachusetts.[56][57] In June 2013, Lynch announced that they were divorcing.[58] Their divorce was finalized in January 2014.[59]

Lynch is deaf in her right ear. She speculated to Craig Ferguson on a July 19, 2013 broadcast of The Late Late Show that the deafness was most likely caused by having had a high fever as an infant.[60]

Awards and nominations

For playing Sue Sylvester in Glee, she won a Primetime Emmy Award,[61] Golden Globe Award,[62] Screen Actors Guild Award, TCA Award,[63] Satellite Award,[64] and People's Choice Award.[65] Lynch has received five Primetime Emmy Awards from twelve nominations, two Screen Actors Guild Awards from six nominations, and a Golden Globe Award from two nominations.

Year Award Category Work Result Ref.
2003 Florida Film Critics Circle Awards Best Cast A Mighty Wind Won
Phoenix Film Critics Society Awards Best Cast Nominated
2006 16th Gotham Independent Film Awards Best Ensemble Cast For Your Consideration Nominated [66]
2007 Ft. Lauderdale International Film Festival Awards Best Actress Comedy I Do & I Don't Won
2009 14th Satellite Awards Best Supporting Actress – Series, Miniseries or Television Film Glee Won [67]
1st Dorian Awards TV Comedy Performance of the Year: Musical or Comedy Won [68]
2010 62nd Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series Two and a Half Men Nominated [69]
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series Glee Won
67th Golden Globe Awards Best Supporting Actress – Series, Miniseries, or Television Film Nominated [70]
16th Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series Won [71]
15th Satellite Awards Best Supporting Actress – Series, Miniseries or Television Film Nominated [72]
26th TCA Awards Individual Achievement in Comedy Won [73]
12th Teen Choice Awards Choice TV Villain Nominated [74]
2nd Dorian Awards TV Comedy Performance of the Year Won [75]
2011 37th People's Choice Awards Favorite TV Comedy Actress Won [76]
1st Critics' Choice Television Awards Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series Nominated [77]
63rd Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series Nominated [69]
68th Golden Globe Awards Best Supporting Actress – Series, Miniseries, or Television Film Won [70]
17th Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series Nominated [71]
Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series Nominated
13th Teen Choice Awards Choice TV Villain Nominated [78]
2012 38th People's Choice Awards Favorite TV Comedy Actress Nominated [79]
18th Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series Nominated [71]
2013 Hollywood Walk of Fame Television – 6640 Hollywood Blvd. Herself Won [80]
39th People's Choice Awards Favorite TV Comedy Actress Glee Nominated [81]
65th Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series Nominated [69]
19th Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series Nominated [71]
2014 40th People's Choice Awards Favorite TV Comedy Actress Nominated [82]
16th Teen Choice Awards Choice TV Villain Nominated [83]
66th Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Narrator Wildlife Specials: The Spy Collection Nominated [69]
Outstanding Host for a Reality or Reality-Competition Program Hollywood Game Night Won
2015 67th Primetime Emmy Awards Won
2016 68th Primetime Emmy Awards Nominated
6th Critics' Choice Television Awards Best Reality Show Host Hollywood Game Night Nominated [84]
2017 69th Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Actress in a Short Form Comedy or Drama Series Dropping the Soap Won [69]
2018 70th Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Host for a Reality or Reality-Competition Program Hollywood Game Night Nominated
Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Nominated
2019 71st Primetime Emmy Awards Won
2020 26th Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series Won [71]
47th Daytime Emmy Awards Outstanding Interactive Media for a Daytime Program Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade Nominated [85]


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Media offices Preceded byGeorge Gray Host of the American game The Weakest Link 2020–present Incumbent