You may think of Jane Lynch as the ultimate anti-theatre spokesperson Sue Sylvester from Glee, but the three-time Emmy winner and now nine-time nominee is not only a theatre lover, she’s a playwright.
Lynch graduated with a degree in theatre from Illinois State University and earned her MFA in theatre from Cornell University. True, she started out acting professionally on television, but in 1998 Lynch wrote and starred in Oh Sister, My Sister, which won the Best Comedy Ensemble of the Year Award from LA Weekly. The play later kicked off the Lesbians in Theater initiative at the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center in 2004, when Lynch again starred in the production helmed by now-famous Transparent creator Jill Soloway. Lynch also spent much of her early career in the Chicago theatre scene, as part of Steppenwolf Theatre Company and Second City.
As Sue Sylvester, Lynch was a part of bringing musical theatre to mainstream audiences with Glee. Though she played the cheerleading coach hell-bent on destroying the titular glee club, there’s no denying the show changed the game in earning audiences for theatre and in pushing television to embrace musical storytelling. She won an Emmy for the series in 2010.
In 2012 she appeared alongside Martin Sheen, Jamie Lee Curtis, Chris Colfer, and Brad Pitt in a production of 8, about the federal trial that overturned California’s Prop 8 ban on same-sex marriage. The production at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre was also broadcast on YouTube to raise funds for the American Foundation for Equal Rights.
Later that year, Lynch made her Broadway debut in the revival of Annie, replacing Tony winner Katie Finneran as the alcohol-swigging orphan matron Miss Hannigan.
While she began hosting Hollywood Game Night, a gig that won her two Emmys, she also debuted her solo cabaret show See Jane Sing in 2015 and a Christmas album A Swingin’ Little Christmas in 2016.
This year, Lynch has been recognized with a nomination for Amazon’s Dropping the Soap, a web series about the cast of a new soap opera in an entertainment environment that no longer needs their genre of television.
Tune in to the 69th Annual Emmy Awards September 17 on CBS.