Janis Faye Kearney was born on September 29, 1953, in Gould, Lincoln County, Arkansas.
She earned a B.A. in journalism from the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville.
She started her career at the Arkansas State Press, which she bought from Daisy Bates. In 1993 she joined the Clinton administration and then became the first presidential diarist in 1995. Kearney completed a two-year fellowship at the W. E. B. Du Bois Institute of African and African American Studies.
She has authored numerous books, including Cotton Field of Dreams and Conversations: William Jefferson Clinton-From Hope to Harlem.