Emmy-winning actress Debra Messing became famous with her portrayal of neurotic interior designer Grace Adler in the NBC hit sitcom "Will & Grace"(1998, opposite Eric McCormack). During her period in the series, Messing’s brilliant acting handed her several awards, including an Emmy, a Screen Actors Guild, a TV Guide award and two Golden Satellite awards. She also nabbed three Emmy nominations, and a Golden Globe and Screen Actor Guild nomination. On the big screen, the American actress dotted her resume with such films as Woody Allen's Celebrity (1998) and Hollywood Ending (2002), the supernatural thriller The Mothman Prophecies (2002), the star-filled film Along Came Polly (2004), was heard in the animated film Garfield: The Movie (2004) and starred in The Wedding Date (2005). Fans will soon catch her in the upcoming drama Lucky You (2006) and the animated Open Season (2006).
Off screen, Debra Messing was listed as one of People Magazine’s 50 Most Beautiful People in 2002 and was named TV Guide's Best-Dressed Woman in 2003. An avid humanitarian, Messing has spent much of her leisure time supporting charities like Gay Men's Health Crisis, Best Friend's Pet Sanctuary and AmFAR. As for her private life, the redheaded beauty, who is harshly allergic to flowers and perfumes, married her college sweetheart, actor and writer Daniel Zelman, on September 3, 2000, after their eight-year courtship. The couple has one son named Roman Walker Zelman (born in 2004). Messing’s 17-month-old son recently headlined the media for kissing Angelina Jolie on the cover of a magazine and calling her ‘Mama.’ Commenting about the event Debra said, “He’s really into kissing now. And he’s indiscriminate. He kisses the ottoman, he kisses the chair, he kisses Angelina Jolie on the cover of a magazine and then he says, ‘Mama.’ I’m like, ‘Kid, if you say Mama to Angelina Jolie, you could have anything you want,’ because she’s so gorgeous!”
Rhode Island's Junior Miss
Childhood and Family:
The daughter of Jewish parents, Debra Messing was born on August 15, 1968, in Brooklyn, New York. Debra’s father is Brian Missing, a sales executive for a jewelry company, while her mother is Sandy Messing, a housewife with various kinds of jobs, including professional singer, banker, travel agent and real estate agent. When Debra was three, her family took her and her older brother, Brett Messing, and relocated to a quiet town outside Providence, Rhode Island, where she was crowned the 1986 Rhode Island's Junior Miss.
Young Debra trained in dancing, singing and acting, and regularly attended performing arts camps. Before deciding to pursue acting professionally, she followed her parent’s advice and received a liberal arts education by attending Brandeis University, in Waltham, Massachusetts. In her junior year, Debra flew to England to study theater with the prominent British European Studio Group. Debra earned her B.A from Brandeis in 1990 with summa cum laude distinction and was one of 15 students to study at New York University's Graduate Acting Program. She completed her M.F.A degree in three years.
"He's the best human being I know. He makes me a better person every day. I'm never happier than when I'm with him," Debra Messing said about her husband.
Debra met actor/director Daniel Zelman on their first day at NYU as graduate students. The couple began dating in 1992 and became engaged six years later. After a long-term relationship, they eventually married on September 3, 2000. Debra gave birth to a baby son named Roman Walker Zelman on April 7, 2004. With son and husband, the actress currently lives in Los Angeles.
Debra Messing dreamed of becoming an actress since childhood. She began her acting on stage and her skills were soon noticed when she won praise for her portrayal of Harper Pitt in the pre-Broadway workshop production of Tony Kushner's award-winning play "Angels in America: Perestroika." In the 1990s, Messing made her professional stage debut as Cecily in a Seattle production of Oscar Wilde’s play "The Importance of Being Earnest." She also appeared in the off-Broadway production of "Four Dogs and a Bone" (1993) and costarred in Paul Rudnick’s play “The Naked Truth (1994)." In 1994, Messing broke into television with her recurring role of Dana Abandando, the scheming sister of Gail O'Grady, in the award-winning series NYPD Blue (1994-1995).
She soon moved on to the silver screen when she landed the small part of Betty Sutton in Alfonso Arau love story, A Walk in the Clouds (1995). In the film, Messing was featured as the wife of a WW II veteran played by Keanu Reeves. After her film debut, she went back to TV to star in the Fox sitcom "Ned and Stacey" (1995), a series about a young woman and a young man who enter into a marriage for reasons rather than love. When the shows ended in 1997, Messing was cast in the lead role of young bioanthropologist Dr. Sloan Parker in the made-for-television movie Prey (1997). She also guest starred in "Seinfeld," "The Wait Out" and "The Yada Yada."
Rejecting the idea of another television sitcom, Messing went back to the theatre in 1997 to play Maria Tucci, the protégé and literary rebel of a famed short-story writer, in the Off-Broadway production of Donald Margulies's two-character play "Collected Stories.” Additionally, 1997 also marked Messing’s return to film when she costarred opposite Tom Arnold and Dean Stockwell in the insignificant remake of the military comedy McHale's Navy (1997, director Bryan Spicer). The following year, Messing appeared as a TV reporter in Woody Allen's Celebrity (1998). The comedy starred Melanie Griffith, Francisco Quidjada, Douglas McGrath and Kenneth Branagh.
"I can't imagine it being more sweet. You just hope that you will get the opportunity to do what you love and pay your bills, and that is being a success as an actor. The accolades - this is otherworldly. I have never allowed myself the ability to dream this far." Debra Messing speaks about winning her first Emmy.
Messing’s big breakthrough arrived when she was cast in the lead role of Grace Adler, opposite Eric McCormack, in the NBC popular sitcom "Will & Grace" (1998-present). Directed by James Burrows, Messing gave an impressive turn as a gorgeous, clumsy and spirited interior decorator. The role won her several awards, including a Screen Actors Guild for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series in 2001, a TV Guide for Actress of the Year in a Comedy Series in 2001 and two Golden Satellites for Best Performance by an Actress in a Series, Comedy or Musical in 2002 and 2003. Moreover, Messing finally took home an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series in 2003 after receiving the Emmy nomination for three consecutive years (2000-2002). She also earned nominations for Best Actress at the Golden Globes (2002) and at the Screen Actor Guild Awards (2004).
While working on Will & Grace, the actress reprised the role of young Dr. Sloan Parker in the short-lived sci-fi series "Prey" (1998), but the show was quickly axed after only one season. At the end of decade, Messing played the starring role of Mary Magdalene in CBS’s biblical television film Jesus (1999).
After four years away from movies, Debra Messing made her return in 2002 by portraying the role of joyfully married, but ill-fated, Mary Klein in the supernatural thriller The Mothman Prophecies (2002), starring Richard Gere and David Eigenberg. She then worked again with Woody Allen in his comedy film Hollywood Ending (2002), joined the star-studded cast of Ben Stiller, Jennifer Aniston and Alec Baldwin, for writer-director John Hamburg’s comedy Along Came Polly (2004) and provided her voice for Arlene in the animated film Garfield: The Movie (2004).
Recently, 37-year-old Messing starred as single-girl Kat Ellis in the romance film The Wedding Date (2005), opposite Dermot Mulroney, Amy Adams and Jack Davenport. She also has two more films in productions. She will costar in the drama Lucky You (2006, alongside Eric Bana, Drew Barrymore and Robert Duvall) and will provide her voice to Roger Allers’ animated film Open Season (2006).
- Golden Satellite: Best Performance by an Actress in a Series, Comedy or Musical, Will & Grace, 2003
Emmy: Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series, Will & Grace, 2003
Golden Satellite: Best Performance by an Actress in a Series, Comedy or Musical, Will & Grace, 2002
TV Guide: Actress of the Year in a Comedy Series, Will & Grace, 2001
Screen Actors Guild: Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series, Will & Grace, 2001