Dot-Marie Jones is an athlete and actress who has had multiple roles in television. She attended California State University, Fresno, where she set records for shot put. Jones is also a 15-time world arm wrestling champion. She currently has a recurring role on the musical, Glee, as Shannon Beiste, for which she was nominated for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series at the 2011 Primetime Emmy Awards.
Dorothy-Marie Jones was born in 1964 in Turlock, California and was raised in Hilmar. She first got involved in strength competitions at a fairly young age. She started track in middle school, then experienced a huge growth spurt over nine months. The sudden addition of seven inches to her height weakened her back, so she started lifting weights to strengthen it. While she attended Hilmar High School, she was a champion weight lifter and named female athlete of the year. She started arm wrestling on a whim, and won her first arm wrestling world championship at 19 years old and went on to win 14 more.
After high school, Jones attended Modesto Junior College and Fresno State, where she continued her involvement with sports. She earned a scholarship in track which paid her way through junior college and university. She played softball and competed in shot put and powerlifting. She won All-America honors in shot put both at junior college and university, was state champion in 1983 and 1984 and set the national record at the junior college level from 1983 to 1990. Jones qualified for the U.S. Olympic Trials in 1988 for shot put with a 56 ft 6 1⁄4 in (17.23 m) throw, surpassing the qualifying mark of 55 ft (17 m). She finished sixth. During her sporting career, she suffered 11 knee injuries, bringing her height of 6 ft 4 in (1.93 m) down to 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m). A knee replacement surgery gave her lost inch back. After college, Jones worked as a youth counselor at the Fresno County Juvenile Probation center while continuing her involvement with sports.
Jones, who had no intentions of acting, was discovered at a bodybuilding competition by Shirley Eson of American Gladiators fame. Eson urged Jones to audition for the Gladiators-like Knights and Warriors, and Jones got the part, becoming one of the few female warriors. Jones was also offered a position in professional wrestling, but turned it down because, she said, it was "too fakey".
Knights and Warriors only lasted one season, but Jones' acting career was just starting. She became a bit actor, playing small roles in several television series throughout the 1990s and 2000s and breaking into feature films in the late 1990s. While acting, she kept up her involvement with arm wrestling. In 1995, her biceps measured 171⁄2 in (44.45 cm).
Her first recurring role after Knights was as a character named "Dot" on the popular show Married... with Children in the mid-90s. She appeared in five episodes over two seasons. Jones' next break was on the kids show Lizzie McGuire as Coach Kelly. Since then, she has appeared in popular shows Nip/Tuck, Desperate Housewives, and Prison Break, among others.
Jones, being a fan of Glee and having worked with series co-creator Ryan Murphy on Nip/Tuck and Pretty/Handsome, asked co-executive producer Brad Falchuk during an encounter at a supermarket if she could be on the show. Soon after, the character of Coach Shannon Beiste was created for her.
Dot Jones appeared recently on Logo TV's RuPaul's Drag U as a visiting professor during the second season of the show.