|Throwback profile of Jones for Abercrombie & Fitch... | Photography, Bruce Weber|
Of the aspirational archetype of small town youth fated, dream-driven, to meet the greater world, January was born - named after actor Jacqueline Susann's character, January Wayne, from Once is Not Enough - on January 7, 1978, in the minute, rural town of Hecla, South Dakota, near the North Dokotan border. With her mother and father having relocated the family to the state's capital, Sioux Falls, she grew up there with more exposure than her birthplace: a modeling scout approached her in her teens over the young girl's potential in the industry. Told by mom she could only do so after finishing with school, "So I hurried up and finished high school almost a year early. Three days after I turned 18 [in 1996], I went to New York," she recalled to Interview.
Initially, she ventured into modeling, but she ultimately found it unfulfilling and gave acting a consideration for career. At that time, by the turn of the decade, she had met Ashton Kutcher, who had modeled for Abercrombie & Fitch in 1998, and the two would eventually date for about three years. He completely disagreed with the idea: "If anything, I should thank him, because the minute you tell me I can't do something, that's when I'm most motivated," she told People. The career choice brought her spots on 2003's Anger Management, American Wedding, and classic Love Actually, to name the most notable, which starred already long-established, respected actors and also rising talent.
Come 2005, January was selected to appear in the Bruce Weber photoshoot for the greater Abercrombie & Fitch Summer 2005 campaign: she, chosen to appear profiled in the fourth and final installment of the highlighting-rising-young-stars publication, A&F Magazine. Subtitled "Summer Love", and featuring Josh Pence on the cover, it was an integral part of the campaign and sold instores mationwide. This was during the golden "Casual Luxury"-themed mid-2000s of Mike Jeffries' Abercrombie & Fitch...
Two years later, January, after having won the spot, became part of, what unbeknownst to everyone at the time, would become one of the most critically-acclaimed television series of all-time, Mad Men. Her role, introduced at the end of the pilot, set in 1960, as the wife of iconic character Don Draper, Betty. Sweet and polished, though unstable underneath the surface, Betty is a volatile character struggling with the social constructs and expectations surrounding (and stifling) an individual of her circumstance, a mid-20th century well-to-do American middle class woman as conformist, submissive housewife - to a philandering husband (with quite his own demons and skeletons in the closet) - and mother emotionally and psychologically consternated by echoes of her upbringing and current internal predicaments.
|A scene alone at home from season 1, episode 7, "Red in the Face".|
Throughout the series' run, January has received praise for her portrayal of Betty and has been honored with multiple honorable nominations and accolades in recognition of her outstanding performance in the role. BuzzFeed even released an amusing article, in 2013, highlighting some favorited incidences from the most strong side of the character's nature, "13 Moments When Betty Draper Didn't Give A F%$k".
Interestingly, January's prior experience as a model even tied in with her character's own: In season 1, episode 9, "Shoot", while on a night out with Don at a Broadway theater in the city, she mentions in polite conversation, during intermission, with the head of a major ad agency courting her husband to switch from Sterling Cooper, "I did do some modeling...a lifetime ago."
Now a mother of son Xander (b.2011), and with further key film appearances - such as Unknown (alongside Liam Neeson and Diane Kruger) and X-Men: First Class (with James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, and fellow A&F Models Alumna Jennifer Lawrence) - under her belt, transition into life and career post-Mad Men has been well in the making. The final episode of Mad Men airs May 17, 2015!