Has Sue Sylvester met her match?
Possibly. Actress Dot-Marie Jones makes her debut on tonight's season premiere of Glee as the gruff, but sensitive Coach Shannon Beiste, who takes over McKinley High's football team after Coach Ken Tanaka suffers a nervous breakdown.
We are absolutely smitten with Jones, her work and her unconventional background. Who is she, you ask? Here are five things you need to know about our new favorite—ready for this?—former professional arm wrestling champion. We kid you not…
1. She's Armed: Before breaking into acting, Jones, 46, won 15 world arm wrestling championships. "I'm retired now because my shoulder is shot, but I won my first world title when I was 19," says Jones, who grew up in Hilmar, California. She's also competed in the shot put and power lifting.
2. She's Towering: Jones used to be 6-foot-4-inches tall, but is an inch shorter these days because of sports-related injuries. "I've had 11 knee injuries," she explains. "On my left leg, they cut out a pie wedge about three inches above my knee. When I get my knee replacements, I'll be back up to 6-4."
3. She's a Battleaxe: Jones had no intention of going into show business until she was discovered about 20 years ago at a bodybuilding tournament by Shirley Eson, otherwise known as Sky on American Gladiators. She convinced Jones, who was working at Juvenile Probation Services in Fresno, CA, at the time, to audition for a new medieval-themed fighting competition show, Knights and Warriors. Jones landed the role of Lady Battleaxe.
4. She's a Working Girl: Since then, Jones has appeared on countless television shows, including Full House, Prison Break, My Name Is Earl and Desperate Housewives as well as more recent hits like HawthoRNe and Cougar Town, among many others.
5. She Propositions Producers In Whole Foods: Jones first met Glee cocreator Ryan Murphy when he cast her in Nip/Tuck and Pretty/Handsome, an F/X series about transsexuals that didn't get picked up. Coach Beiste was born after she ran into Glee coexecutive producer Brad Falchuk at a Whole Foods about four months ago. "I said to him, 'I want to be on Glee. I love it,'" Jones remembers. "Brad goes, 'Can you sing?' And I said, 'Well, I'm not Mariah Carey, but I can carry a tune.' And I'll be damned if they didn't call my agent and asked my availability starting the middle of July because they were creating a character for me."