Debra Messing is best known for her role on NBC’s Emmy Award-winning comedy series Will & Grace. Messing captivated television audiences worldwide for eight seasons with her comedic brilliance as Grace Adler, an interior designer whose best friend and soul mate is gay. For her work on the popular sitcom, Messing won the 2003 Emmy Award, has earned a total of seven Golden Globe nominations, seven Screen Actors Guild nominations, winning the ensemble award in 2001, five additional Emmy nominations, two American Comedy Award nominations and two People’s Choice Award nominations. She also collected TV Guide’s Actress of the Year in a Comedy Series honor in 2001.
Currently Debra stars on the new NBC series The Mysteries of Laura as the character Laura Diamond, opposite Josh Lucas and Laz Alonso. The series is an adaptation of the Spanish television series Los Misterios de Laura, and chronicles the life of Laura Diamond (Messing), a homicide detective in the New York Police Department who balances her day job with her off-duty hours as a single mother to twin sons. The series premiered on September 24, 2014 and was given a full-season order after averaging more than 10 million viewers. Debra’s performance on the series has earned her her People’s Choice Award nomination, in the category of Favorite Actress in a New TV Series.
Upcoming, Debra appears in the independent drama, Like Sunday, Like Rain, written and directed byFrank Whaley. The film, starring Leighton Meester and Billie Joe Armstrong, screened at select film festivals including the 2014 Bahamas International Film Festival on December 5, 2014, at which Messing was honored with the festival’s special Shining Star Tribute. The film will open in select theaters on Friday, March 13th followed by the film’s VOD and DVD release on Tuesday, April 21st.
In 2014, Messing made her Broadway debut in the Manhattan Theater Club’s winter production of Outside Mullingar opposite Brian F. O’Byrne. The play opened at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre on January 23, 2014 and had its final performance on March 16, 2014. Outside Mullingar was nominated for a 2014 Tony Award in the category of “Best Play,” a 2014 Outer Critics Circle Award in the category of “Outstanding New Broadway Play,” and a 2014 Drama Desk Award in the category of “Outstanding Play.”
In 2012 and 2013, Messing was seen for two seasons on NBC’s Smash which follows the process of putting on a Broadway musical about Marilyn Monroe, and the drama that ensues. Messing plays Julia Houston, a songwriter and lyricist developing her brainchild Marilyn: The Musical. The drama is executive produced by Steven Spielberg with Michael Mayer directing and co-starring Katharine McPhee and Anjelica Huston.
In 2008, Messing starred in Nothing Like the Holidays alongside John Leguizamo, Freddy Rodriguez, Alfred Molina and Elizabeth Peña. Nothing Like the Holidays was released by Overture Films on December 12, 2008 and is the story about a Latino family combatting their personal struggles in the one place that they have in common. Also this year, Messing was seen in The Women, a re-make of the classic film which centers on a group of gossipy high-society women whose personal lives collide. Messing commandeered the role of Edith Potter alongside Hollywood powerhouses Annette Bening, Meg Ryan, Jada Pinkett Smith, Eva Mendes, Cloris Leachman and Candice Bergen. The Women was released September 12, 2008.
Raised in a quiet community outside Providence, Rhode Island, Messing devoted much of her childhood to musical theatre, performing in numerous productions at both school and camp, which ignited her interest in the stage. She received her liberal arts education at Brandeis University, where she majored in Theatre Arts. Messing spent half of her junior year studying in London’s prestigious B.E.S.G.L. program, which featured dramatic arts teachers recruited from distinguished institutions such as the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, The London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, Cambridge University and Oxford University. Upon graduating Summa Cum Laude from Brandeis University, she was accepted into NYU’s elite Graduate Acting Program and received her M.F.A. three years later.
Messing garnered much excitement in New York over her portrayal of Harper Pitt in the pre-Broadway workshop of Tony Kushner’s Tony Award-winning play Angels in America: Perestroika. She then left New York for Seattle to star as Cecily in The Importance of Being Earnest at the Intiman Theatre. Upon her return, she was cast as both Mary-Louise Parker’s and Polly Draper’s understudy in the New York premiere of John Patrick Shanley’s critically acclaimed Off-Broadway play, Four Dogs and a Bone, at the Manhattan Theatre Club. She next went on to co-star in Paul Rudnick’s Off-Broadway play The Naked Truth.
Messing also co-starred onstage with Maria Tucci in the two-woman, highly acclaimed Off-Broadway production of Donald Margulies’ Collected Stories, which premiered at The Manhattan Theatre Club and was chosen as a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.
After Will & Grace ended its lengthy run, Messing starred in USA Network’s six-hour television event, The Starter Wife, with Joe Mantegna, Miranda Otto and Judy Davis. The miniseries, directed by Jon Avnet and based on Gigi Levangie Grazer’s bestselling novel, drew 5.4 million viewers in its two-hour debut on May 31, 2007 to give the cable network its best launch for an original series in three years. It picked up 10 Emmy nominations, including Messing’s for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie. She also earned a Golden Globe nomination for Best Performance by an Actress in a Mini-Series or a Motion Picture Made for Television. Due to this highly successful run, Messing reprised her role as Molly Kagan in The Starter Wife regular series which completed airing in the Fall of 2008 on USA Network. Debra received a nomination for a Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy for her work on the series.
Messing starred in Ed Burns’ film Purple Violets, the first feature film released exclusively on iTunes. Written and directed by Burns, co-starring Selma Blair and Patrick Wilson, the film tells the story of four friends from college who unexpectedly run into one another more than a decade after parting ways. It was screened in the Spotlight category at the 6th Annual Tribeca Film Festival in April 2007.
Messing’s film work also includes two romantic comedies, The Wedding Date, opposite Dermot Mulroney, and the box office hit Along Came Polly, with Ben Stiller and Jennifer Aniston. In 2002, Messing co-starred in Woody Allen’s comedy, Hollywood Ending, opposite Allen and Tea Leoni, and The Mothman Prophecies, opposite Richard Gere and Laura Linney.
Messing portrayed Mary Magdalene in the four-hour CBS miniseries Jesus, directed by Roger Young and co-starring Gary Oldman, Armin Mueller-Stahl, Jeroen Krabbe and Jeremy Sisto. She starred as a young bio-anthropologist in the 1998 ABC thriller series Prey and displayed her comedic skills for two seasons as Stacey in the FOX comedy Ned and Stacey, which also starred Thomas Haden Church. Additional credits include recurring roles on the hit television series NYPD Blue and Seinfeld, appearing in the latter as Jerry’s ideal but elusive love, Beth Lookner.
During her free time, Messing supports charities such as PSI, The Gay Men’s Health Crisis, AmFAR, HRC (Human Rights Campaign), and GLAAD, for which she has been honored several times the social awareness and tolerance that her participation in “Will & Grace” helped to establish. In 2004, Messing was honored by The Trevor Project at its Annual “Cracked Xmas 7″ Charity Event. Messing along with Megan Mullally, were honored with The Trevor Life Award for their example of acceptance and support of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community. Most recently, Messing narrated the PSI TV & Online documentary special titled ViewChange: HIV Prevention – Looking Back and Moving Forward. In 2009, Messing traveled with PSI to Zimbabwe where she visited their programs in HIV/AIDS prevention and education, safe water and malaria. While there, she met with many high-ranking officials including the US Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Charles A. Ray; the Zimbabwe Minister of Health and Child Welfare, Dr. Henry Madzorera; and officials from several donor agencies including USAID, UNAIDS and DFID. In addition, Messing was the guest of honor and delivered a speech at the USAID annual Auxillia Chimuroso Awards celebrating community leadership and action on HIV/AIDS. She also launched a BBC and UKAID film on PSI’s Hair Salon network that promotes the correct and consistent use of care female condoms through a network of hair stylists and male barbers trained as peer educators. Messing’s trip shed a positive light on the area and highlighted the work being done by the Zimbabwean government and donor community. In March of 2010 Messing traveled to Washington DC to testify before the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health, where she highlighted successes from US investments in HIV/AIDS while urging members to consider more funding for HIV prevention and treatment in developing countries. Later that year in July of 2010, Messing taped the welcome speech for the XVIII International AIDS Conference which took place in Vienna.