Debra Messing became widely known as interior designer Grace Adler in the sitcom
Debra Messing was born in the New York City borough of Brooklyn to Jewish American parents Brian Messing (a sales executive for a jewelry manufacturer) and Sandra (who has worked as a professional singer, banker, travel and real estate agent). When Messing was three, she moved with her parents and her older brother, Brett, to a quiet town outside Providence, Rhode Island.
Debra Messing took lessons in dance, singing, and acting. While her parents encouraged her dream of becoming an actress, they also urged her to complete a liberal arts education before deciding on acting as a career. Following their advice, she attended Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. During her junior year, she studied theater at the prestigious London-based British European Studio Group program, an experience that fueled her desire to act.
In 1990, after graduating summa cum laude from Brandeis with a bachelor's degree in theater arts, Messing gained admission to the elite Graduate Acting Program (which accepts only about 15 new students annually) at New York University, where she earned a master's degree in fine arts after three years.
In 1993, Debra won praise for her acting in the pre-Broadway workshop production of Tony Kushner's much-lauded play Angels in America: Perestroika. Consequently, she appeared in several episodes (running from 1994 to 1995) of the award-winning television series NYPD Blue.
In 1995, Debra Messing made her film debut with a supporting role in A Walk in the Clouds, a love story directed by Alfonso Arau. This exposure led the Fox network to make her the co-star of the television sitcom, Ned and Stacey. The series lasted for two seasons, from 1995 to 1997. During her role on "Ned and Stacey", Messing appeared as Jerry Seinfeld's date in two episodes of the hit television show Seinfeld: "The Wait Out" in 1996 and "The Yada Yada" in 1997. Messing turned down a starring role in another television sitcom to appear in Donald Margulies's two-character play Collected Stories, which opened at the Off-Broadway Manhattan Theater Club in 1997.
In 1998, Messing had a lead role as the bio-anthropologist "Sloan Parker" on ABC's dramatic science-fiction television series Prey. Meanwhile, Messing's agent had approached her with the pilot script for the television show Will & Grace. Messing was inclined to take some time off, but the pilot for Will & Grace intrigued her, and she received the role, beating out actress Nicolette Sheridan, who also auditioned for it, and later guest starred on the show. "Will & Grace" became a big ratings success and Messing gained renown. In 2002, she was named one of the "50 Most Beautiful People in the World" by People Magazine. TV Guide picked her as its "Best Dressed Woman" in 2003.
Debra Messing was personally picked by director Woody Allen for a small role in his 1998 film Celebrity. Her big-screen roles since include a happily married but ill-fated wife in the supernatural thriller The Mothman Prophecies (2002) and a co-starring role in Along Came Polly (2004).
The Wedding Date (2005) was Messing's first leading role in a high-profile film. It received mixed reviews but performed fairly at the box office.
Debra was featured as a judge on the season finale of the second season of Bravo's hit reality show, Project Runway.
Debra Messing met her future husband, Daniel Zelman (an actor and screenwriter), on their first day as graduate students at NYU. The two were married on September 3, 2000 and live in Los Angeles, California. On April 7, 2004, Messing gave birth to their son, Roman Walker Zelman.
Selected filmography for Debra Messing
Emmy Awards for Debra Messing
This Debra Messing Biography Page is Copyright © 2004 - 2009 Chuck Ayoub