Well known as a premiere theater actress and an advocate for gay rights, Cherry Jones has also appeared in a number of high-profile films. Born and raised in Tennessee, Jones headed north to study drama at Carnegie Mellon University. A founding member of the American Repertory Theatre in Cambridge, MA, Jones spent the early years of her professional career performing in a wide range of plays. After she relocated to New York, Jones acted in numerous Broadway productions, including Angels in America, The Night of the Iguana, Our Country's Good, and A Moon for the Misbegotten. Her performance as the lonely heroine in the 1995 production of The Heiress earned Jones several awards, including the Tony.
Even as she became a theater star, Jones added TV and films to her repertoire in the 1980s, with supporting roles in the TV docudrama [[Feature~V123589~Alex: The Life of a Child~alex:thelifeofachild]] (1986) and [[Performer~P110362~Paul Schrader~paulschrader]]'s [[Feature~V29320~Light of Day~lightofday]] (1987). Though drama was her primary forte, Jones also appeared in the hit comedies [[Feature~V23400~Housesitter~housesitter]] (1992) and [[Feature~V28669~A League of Their Own~aleagueoftheirown]] (1992). After several years of stage work, Jones returned to films in the independent black comedy [[Feature~V158735~Julian Po~julianpo]] (1997), and [[Performer~P107758~Robert Redford~robertredford]]'s [[Feature~V158883~The Horse Whisperer~thehorsewhisperer]] (1998). Jones brought an air of forceful integrity to her roles as the embattled head of the Federal Theater Project in [[Performer~P108437~Tim Robbins~timrobbins]]' 1930s tapestry [[Feature~V180004~Cradle Will Rock~cradlewillrock]] (1999) and as one of the chemical contamination victims in [[Performer~P112040~Steven Soderbergh~stevensoderbergh]]'s [[Feature~V184310~Erin Brockovich~erinbrockovich]] (2000).
Unabashedly out since her professional debut at age 21, Jones made theater history of sorts when she thanked her same-sex domestic partner from the podium when she won her Tony for The Heiress. Jones added her voice to [[Feature~V160485~Out of the Past~outofthepast]] (1998), a documentary about the struggles of the gay rights movement throughout U.S. history, and co-starred in the TV movie about lesbian parents, [[Feature~V270803~What Makes a Family~whatmakesafamily]] (2001).
Continuing to take smaller roles in big movies between her stage work, Jones followed [[Feature~V184310~Erin Brockovich~erinbrockovich]] with a turn as one of the residents on land forced to come to grips with the tragic effects of [[Feature~V186759~The Perfect Storm~theperfectstorm]] (2000). Back on summer movie screens two years later in two heavily hyped releases, Jones was one of the many oddly monikered women populating the eccentric female universe in [[Feature~V260292~Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood~divinesecretsoftheyayasisterhood]] (2002). In [[Performer~P231814~M. Night Shyamalan~mnightshyamalan]]'s spiritual science fiction hit [[Feature~V263250~Signs~signs]] (2002), Jones quietly shined with her gentle yet no-nonsense performance as the local cop who gets involved in teasing out the meaning of the crop circles in anguished father [[Performer~P91479~Mel Gibson~melgibson]]'s corn field. Both [[Performer~P112040~Soderbergh~stevensoderbergh]] and [[Performer~P231814~Shyamalan~mnightshyamalan]] would continue to feature her such films as [[Feature~V289385~Ocean's Twelve~oceanstwelve]] and [[Feature~V286743~The Village~thevillage]], as Jones continued to rack up acclaim for her stage work, including a Best Actress Tony in 2005 for [[Performer~P110969~John Patrick Shanley~johnpatrickshanley]]'s Doubt. In 2007 Fox announced that Jones would be portraying the first female president on the seventh season of 24.
In 2009 she would play a first lady embodying Eleanor Roosevelt in the biopic Amelia, and had a busy 2011 appearing in Jodie Foster's The Beaver as well as Garry Marshall's ensemble romantic comedy New Year's Eve. She returned to TV in 2012 with a role in the series Awake. ~ Lucia Bozzola, Rovi