Messing at NBCUniversal's 2014 Summer TCA Tour in July 2014
|Born||Debra Lynn Messing
August 15, 1968
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
|Alma mater||Brandeis University (B.A.)
New York University (M.F.A.)
|Spouse(s)||Daniel Zelman (2000–12)|
Following her graduation from New York University's Tisch School of the Arts, Messing had short-lived tenures on the Fox sitcom Ned & Stacey and the ABC sci-fi Prey. She rose to prominence in her role as interior designer Grace Adler on the NBC sitcom Will & Grace, earning both commercial and critical success throughout the series' eight season run. She also received critical acclaim for her work as Molly Kagan in the USA Network series The Starter Wife. She also played the lead role of Julia Houston in the musical-drama series Smash, before it was cancelled by NBC after two seasons.
Her film roles have included an unfaithful bride in Along Came Polly, followed by a more sympathetic role in The Wedding Date, and then Nothing like the Holidays. She has also voiced roles in several animated films such as Garfield and Open Season.
Messing was born in the Brooklyn borough of New York City, the daughter of Sandra (née Simons; died 2014), who has worked as a professional singer, banker, travel and real estate agent, and Brian Messing, a sales executive for a costume jewelry packaging manufacturer. Messing is Jewish, and had a Bat Mitzvah ceremony; her ancestors emigrated from Poland and Russia. When Messing was three, she moved with her parents and her older brother, Brett, to East Greenwich, Rhode Island.
During her high school years, she acted and sang in a number of high school productions at East Greenwich High School, including the starring roles in the musicals Annie and Grease. She took lessons in dance, singing, and acting. In 1986, she was Rhode Island's Junior Miss and competed in Mobile, Alabama, in the America's Junior Miss scholarship program. 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, where at her parents' request three-quarters of her courses were not theater-related. During her junior year, she studied theater at the prestigious London-based British European Studio Group program, an experience that consolidated her desire to act.
In 1990, after graduating summa cum laude from Brandeis with a Bachelor of Arts in Theater Arts, Messing gained admission to the elite Graduate Acting Program at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts which accepts approximately fifteen new students annually. She earned a Master of Fine Arts after three years.
In 1993, Messing won acclaim for her acting in the pre-Broadway workshop production of Tony Kushner's play Angels in America: Perestroika. Subsequently, she appeared in several episodes of the television series NYPD Blue during 1994 and 1995.
In 1995, Messing made her film debut in Alfonso Arau's A Walk in the Clouds playing the unfaithful wife of main character Paul Sutton (Keanu Reeves). This exposure led the Fox network to make her the co-star of the television sitcom, Ned & Stacey. The series lasted for two seasons, from 1995 to 1997. Messing appeared as Jerry Seinfeld's date in two episodes of the series 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. She also co-starred in the Tom Arnold vehicle McHale's Navy in 1997.
In 1998, Messing played a lead role as the bio-anthropologist Sloan Parker on ABC's dramatic science fiction television series Prey. During this time her agent approached her with the pilot script for the television show Will & Grace. Messing was inclined to take some time off, but the script intrigued her, and she auditioned for the role of Grace Adler, beating out Nicollette Sheridan, who later guest-starred on the show as a romantic rival of Grace's. Will & Grace became a ratings success, and Messing became a star.
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. And Messing's trademark curls on Will & Grace won her five Crown Awards from voters at the celebrity hair site Super-Hair.Net between 2000 and 2008.
Messing was cast by director Woody Allen in a small role in his 2002 film Hollywood Ending. Her film roles since include a happily married but ill-fated wife in the supernatural thriller The Mothman Prophecies (2002) and a supporting role as the unfaithful bride 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 well at the box office. Messing was featured as a judge on the season finale of the second season of Bravo's reality show, Project Runway. Also in 2005, along with Megan Mullally, she was awarded the Women in Film Lucy Award in recognition of her excellence and innovation in her creative works that have enhanced the perception of women through the medium of television
She also starred in the 2007 television mini-series The Starter Wife, which was nominated for ten Emmy awards including one for Messing for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or Movie. In 2008, Messing reprised her role as Molly Kagan in the television series The Starter Wife, consisting of 10 episodes. In early 2010, Messing starred in the ABC comedy pilot Wright vs. Wrong for the 2010-2011 primetime season but the pilot was not picked up by ABC.
In 2011, Messing was ranked No. 22 on the TV Guide Network special, Funniest Women on TV. In early 2011, it was announced that Messing would star in a new NBC musical pilot called Smash for the 2011–2012 primetime season. In May 2011, it was reported that NBC picked up the show as a series for the 2011-2012 season. The show premiered on February 6, 2012. The show was later renewed for a second season. After two seasons, it was cancelled.
She made her Broadway debut in John Patrick Shanley's play Outside Mullingar alongside Tony winner Brían F. O'Byrne, which began previews at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre on January 3, 2014. Outside Mullingar was nominated for Best Play for the 2014 (68th Annual) Tony Awards.
Messing currently stars in The Mysteries of Laura, a police procedural television show that premiered in September 2014.
Messing met her now former husband, Daniel Zelman, an actor and screenwriter, on their first day as graduate students at NYU in 1990. They were married on September 3, 2000, and lived in New York City. On April 7, 2004, Messing gave birth to their son, Roman Walker Zelman. In December 2011 she and her husband separated after eleven years of marriage. Messing filed for divorce on June 5, 2012.
|1995||Walk in the Clouds, AA Walk in the Clouds||Betty Sutton|
|1997||McHale's Navy||Lt. Penelope Carpenter|
|2002||Mothman Prophecies, TheThe Mothman Prophecies||Mary Klein|
|2004||Along Came Polly||Lisa Kramer|
|2005||Wedding Date, TheThe Wedding Date||Kat Ellis|
|2006||Open Season||Beth||Voice only|
|2007||Purple Violets||Kate Scott|
|2007||Lucky You||Suzanne Offer|
|2008||Women, TheThe Women||Edie Cohen|
|2008||Nothing like the Holidays||Sarah Rodriguez|
|2014||Like Sunday, Like Rain||Barbara|
|1994–95||NYPD Blue||Dana Abandando||3 episodes|
|1995–97||Ned & Stacey||Stacey Colbert||47 episodes|
|1996–97||Seinfeld||Beth Lookner||2 episodes|
|1998||Prey||Dr. Sloan Parker||13 episodes|
|1998–2006||Will & Grace||Grace Adler||189 episodes|
|2002||King of the Hill||Mrs. Hilgren-Bronson||1 episode|
|2007–08||The Starter Wife||Molly Kagan||10 episodes|
|2011||Law & Order: Special Victims Unit||Alicia Harding||1 episode|
|2012–13||Smash||Julia Houston||32 episodes|
|2012||Project Runway||Herself/Guest judge||Season 10, Episode: "I Get a Kick Out of Fashion"|
|2014–present||The Mysteries of Laura||Detective Laura Diamond||Lead role|
Awards and nominations
|2000||American Comedy Award||Best Female Performer in a TV Series||Will & Grace||Nominated|
|2000||Emmy Award||Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series||Will & Grace||Nominated|
|2000||Golden Globe Award||Best Actress in a TV Series – Comedy or Musical||Will & Grace||Nominated|
|2000||Viewers for Quality Television Award||Best Actress in a Comedy Series||Will & Grace||Nominated|
|2001||American Comedy Award||Best Female Performer in a TV Series||Will & Grace||Nominated|
|2001||Emmy Award||Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series||Will & Grace||Nominated|
|2001||Golden Globe Award||Best Actress in a TV Series – Comedy or Musical||Will & Grace||Nominated|
|2001||Screen Actors Guild Award||Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series||Will & Grace||Won|
|2001||Screen Actors Guild Award||Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series||Will & Grace||Nominated|
|2001||Teen Choice Award||Choice TV Actress||Will & Grace||Nominated|
|2001||TV Guide Award||Actress of the Year in a Comedy Series||Will & Grace||Won|
|2002||Emmy Award||Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series||Will & Grace||Nominated|
|2002||Golden Globe Award||Best Actress in a TV Series – Comedy or Musical||Will & Grace||Nominated|
|2002||Satellite Award||Best Actress in a TV Series – Comedy or Musical||Will & Grace||Won|
|2002||Screen Actors Guild Award||Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series||Will & Grace||Nominated|
|2002||Teen Choice Award||Choice TV Actress||Will & Grace||Nominated|
|2003||Emmy Award||Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series||Will & Grace||Won|
|2003||Golden Globe Award||Best Actress in a TV Series – Comedy or Musical||Will & Grace||Nominated|
|2003||Satellite Award||Best Actress in a TV Series – Comedy or Musical||Will & Grace||Won|
|2003||Screen Actors Guild Award||Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series||Will & Grace||Nominated|
|2004||Golden Globe Award||Best Actress in a TV Series – Comedy or Musical||Will & Grace||Nominated|
|2004||Satellite Award||Best Actress in a TV Series – Comedy or Musical||Will & Grace||Nominated|
|2004||Screen Actors Guild Award||Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series||Will & Grace||Nominated|
|2004||Screen Actors Guild Award||Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series||Will & Grace||Nominated|
|2005||Golden Globe Award||Best Actress in a TV Series – Comedy or Musical||Will & Grace||Nominated|
|2005||People's Choice Award||Best Female TV Star||Will & Grace||Nominated|
|2005||People's Choice Award||Best Female Comedic Star||Will & Grace||Nominated|
|2005||Screen Actors Guild Award||Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series||Will & Grace||Nominated|
|2006||Emmy Award||Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series||Will & Grace||Nominated|
|2006||Teen Choice Award||Choice TV Actress||Will & Grace||Nominated|
|2007||Emmy Award||Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or Movie||The Starter Wife||Nominated|
|2007||Satellite Award||Best Actress in a Mini Series or TV Movie||The Starter Wife||Nominated|
|2008||Golden Globe Award||Best Actress in a Mini Series or TV Movie||The Starter Wife||Nominated|
|2008||Gracie Allen Award||Outstanding Female Lead in a Mini Series||The Starter Wife||Won|
|2008||Satellite Award||Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical||Nothing like the Holidays||Nominated|
|2008||Screen Actors Guild Award||Outstanding Female Actor in a Mini Series or TV Movie||The Starter Wife||Nominated|
|2009||Golden Globe Award||Best Actress in a TV Series – Comedy or Musical||The Starter Wife||Nominated|
|2009||Golden Raspberry Award||Worst Actress||The Women||Nominated|
- Stated in interview on Inside the Actors Studio
- Ouzounian, Richard (2012-03-09). "Debra Messing in Smash". The Toronto Star. Retrieved 9 March 2012.
- "Debra Messing Biography (1968-)". Filmreference.com. Retrieved 2010-04-07.
- "American Jewish Life Magazine". Atlantajewish.com. Retrieved 2010-04-07.
- Pfefferman, Naomi (2002-05-02). "JewishJournal.com". JewishJournal.com. Retrieved 2010-04-07.
- "Debra Messing: Actress - Most Beautiful, Debra Messing". People.com. 2002-05-13. Retrieved 2010-04-07.
- Williams, Jeannie (2002-05-03). "Debra Messing yells 'Hooray!' for 'Hollywood'". USA Today. Retrieved 2007-12-09.
- "NYU Graduate Acting Alumni". 2011. Retrieved 2011-12-01.
- "Past Recipients". Wif.org. Retrieved 2013-02-20.
-  Archived October 23, 2007 at the Wayback Machine
- "Wright vs. Wrong". 2009-04-20. Retrieved 2009-05-24. Wright vs. Wrong
- "Funniest Women on TV". July 3, 2011. TV Guide Network. Missing or empty
- "Debra Messing to Headline NBC's Musical Pilot - Today's News: Our Take". TVGuide.com. 2011-02-07. Retrieved 2013-02-20.
- Andreeva, Nellie. "May 11, 2011: "NBC Picks Up Whitney Cummings & Emily Spivey Pilots, 'Smash' & 'Prime Suspect'"". Deadline.com. Retrieved 2013-02-20.
- "It's Curtains: NBC Officially Cancels Smash". TVline. May 10, 2013. Retrieved September 8, 2013.
- Voss, Brandon. "Gracing Broadway — Debra Messing Returns to the Stage in MTC's 'Outside Mullingar'" playbill.com, January 4, 2014
- "The Debra Messing Picture Pages". Superiorpics.com. Retrieved 2010-04-07.
- "The Finished Wife: Debra Messing and Husband Separate".
- Dahvi Shira (2012-06-05). "Debra Messing Files for Divorce". People Magazine.
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