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Debra Messing (born August 15, 1968) is an Amercian television actress and comedienne best known for her role on the hit NBC-TV series Will & Grace.
Messing was born in the New York City borough of Brooklyn, the daughter of Jewish American parents Sandra (née Simons), who has worked as a professional singer, banker, travel and real estate agent, and Brian Messing, a sales executive for a jewelry manufacturer. When Messing was three, she moved with her parents and her older brother, Brett, to East Greenwich, a small town outside Providence, Rhode Island.
During her high school years, she acted (and sang) in a number of high school productions, including the starring role in the musical "Annie" and Fiddler On the Roof. Messing 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 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, Messing 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 of the television series NYPD Blue during 1994 and 1995.
In 1995, Messing made her film debut with a relatively small but important role in Alfonso Arau's A Walk in the Clouds playing the unfaithful wife of Keanu Reeves. 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. 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 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 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. Messing was cast by director Woody Allen in a small role in his 1998 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 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. She also starred in the television mini-series The Starter Wife, which was nominated for 10 Emmy awards including one for Messing for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or Movie.
In October 2007, it was announced that Messing would reprise the role of Molly Kagan when The Starter Wife was renewed as a regular series for t second season on the USA Network.
Debra's next series was Smash, a behind-the-scenes story about the development of a Broadway musical, which debuted on NBC in early 2012.
Messing met her husband, Daniel Zelman (an actor and screenwriter), on their first day as graduate students at NYU in 1990. The two were married on September 3, 2000, and live in New York City. On April 7, 2004, Messing gave birth to their son, Roman Walker Zelman.
But in December 2011, a Messing representative acknowledged to Us that the couple "have been separated the better part of the year but continue to live together in New York for Roman." Two weeks later, the magazine reported that Messing was involved with Will Chase, a married co-star on Smash.
Debra Messing on the Web
“Smash:” Debra Messing's Townhouse & More Great Sets “Smash:” Debra Messing's Townhouse & More Great Sets. by hookedonhouses on February 13, 2012. After the relentless hype about the new TV show Smash on NBC, I tuned in expecting to see some singing and dancing (it's about the ...
'Smash' Star Debra Messing Surprised By High School Drama ... Debra Messing, the star of NBC's "Smash" (Mondays, 10 p.m. EST), got a big surprise when she stopped by "Live!