Debra Lynn Messing was born on August 15, 1968 in Brooklyn, New York. She is an Emmy Award-winning actor best known for her TV role as Grace Adler on the hit NBC sitcom Will & Grace. Theatre fans also remember her fondly as Julia Houston on NBC’s Broadway-centric musical series Smash.
After moving to Rhode Island, Messing attended East Greenwich High School and would later go on to study at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts, graduating in 1990 with a bachelor's degree in theatre arts. She would further her training with the grad acting program at New York University’s prestigious Tisch School of the Arts, earning a master of fine arts after the completion of the three-year course.
Her early stage credits include several Off-Broadway appearances in the 1990s. She served as an understudy for the 1993 Manhattan Theatre Club production of Four Dogs and a Bone and went on to appear in WPA Theatre’s The Naked Truth in 1994 and Donald Margulies’ Collected Stories (again for Manhattan Theatre Club) in 1997. Messing would finally make her Broadway debut (courtesy of MTC) as Rosemary Muldoon in Outside Mullingar at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre in January 2014.
Messing made her professional television debut as Dana Abandando in ABC’s NYPD Blue in 1994 and her feature film debut as Betty Sutton opposite Keanu Reeves in 1995’s A Walk in the Clouds. From 1995 to 1997, she would star as Stacey Colbert in Fox’s sitcom Ned & Stacey and in 1998, she would appear as Dr. Sloan Parker on ABC’s sci-fi series Prey.
She shot to global superstardom later in 1998 after landing the role of Grace Adler in NBC’s smash hit sitcom Will & Grace. During the first eight seasons (1998-2006), she earned six Golden Globe and five Emmy Award nominations for the role, winning an Emmy in 2003 for her efforts. She would reprise the beloved role for the return of Will & Grace in 2017. When the show’s 11th and final season began in October 2019, she received her seventh Golden Globe nomination for the role.
Aside from Will & Grace, Messing’s most notable screen credits include her Emmy and two-time Golden Globe-nominated role as Molly Kagan in USA Network’s The Starter Wife (2007-8), the role of playwright/lyricist Julia Houston in NBC’s Smash (2012-13), and the role of homicide detective Laura Diamond on the NBC comedy The Mysteries of Laura (2014-16). Other screen credits include Jesus (1999), The Mothman Prophecies (2002), Hollywood Ending (2002), Along Came Polly (2004), Garfield (2004), The Wedding Date (2005), Open Season (2006), Lucky You (2007), The Women (2008), Nothing Like the Holidays (2008), and Searching (2018).