Debra Lynn Messing is an American actress. After graduating from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, Messing received short-lived roles on television series such as Ned and Stacey on Fox and Prey on ABC. She achieved her breakthrough role as Grace Adler, an interior designer, on the NBC sitcom Will & Grace, for which she was critically acclaimed. Take a look below for 25 more awesome and interesting facts about Debra Messing.
1. Messing was born in the Brooklyn borough of New York City, the daughter of Sandra, who worked as a professional singer, banker, and travel and real estate agent, and Brian Messing, a sales executive for a costume jewelry packaging manufacturer.
2. Messing is Jewish, and had a Bat Mitzvah ceremony; her Jewish ancestors emigrated from Poland and Russia.
3. When Messing was three, she moved with her parents and her older brother, Brett, to East Greenwich, Rhode Island.
4. 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.
5. She took lessons in dance, singing and acting.
6. In 1986, she was Rhode Island’s Junior Miss and competed in Mobile, Alabama, in the America’s Junior Miss scholarship program.
7. 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.
8. Following their advice, she attended Brandeis University, where at her parents’ request, three quarters of her courses were not theater related.
9. During her junior year, she studied theater at the prestigious British European Studies Group of London program, an experience that solidified her desire to act.
10. In 1990, after graduating summa cum laude from Brandeis with a Bachelor of Arts in Theater Arts, Messing gained admission to the elite Grad Acting Program at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, which accepts 16 new students annually. She earned a Master of Fine Arts after three years.
11. In 1993, Messing won acclaim for her performance as Harper in the pre-Broadway workshop production of Tony Kushner’s play Angels in America: Perestroika.
12. Subsequently, she appeared in several episodes of the television series NYPD Blue during 1994 and 1995.
13. 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).
14. Messing appeared as Jerry Seinfeld’s romantic interest in two episodes of the series Seinfeld: “The Wait Out” in 1996 and “The Yada Yada” in 1997.
15. 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.
16. In 1998, Messing played a lead role as the bioanthropologist Sloan Parker on ABC’s dramatic science fiction television series Prey.
17. 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 Grace’s romantic rival. Will & Grace became a ratings success, and Messing became a star.
18. In 2002, she was named one of the “50 Most Beautiful People in the World” by People.
19. Messing met Daniel Zelman, an actor and screenwriter, on their first day as graduate students at New York University in 1990.
20. They were married on September 3, 2000, and lived in Manhattan. In April 2004, Messing gave birth to their son.
21. In December 2011, she and her husband separated after 11 years of marriage.
22. Messing filed for divorce on June 5, 2012.
23. Messing dated her Smash co-star Will Chase from the end of 2011 to October 2014.
24. Messing currently resides in New York City, but travels back and forth to Los Angeles to film Will & Grace.
25. Messing portrayed Marjorie Houseman in the television remake of the film, Dirty Dancing (1987). It aired on ABC in May 2017.