MAKERS Profile

Debra Messing

Actor & Activist

In this video

The Will & Grace star reveals why she almost said no to her iconic role and why activism matters. "If I can use my voice to help push things forward, then it's my privilege to use it."

Debra Messing is best known for her iconic role as Grace Adler on NBC's Will & Grace, which is getting a much-anticipated reboot this week. Since its debut in 1998, the show became a cultural touchstone for America, breaking down the biases surrounding the gay community and inspiring millions to spontaneously exclaim "Just Jack!"

As a result, Messing won an Emmy in 2003 and earned five nominations for Will & Grace. She also racked up six Golden Globe Award nominations for the series.

But “as much as I was loved and respected, I never really felt heard,” Messing says. “I felt like I had more to contribute.”

So Messing took on one of her most fulfilling roles yet: She became the Global Health Ambassador for Population Services International (PSI), which focuses on HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment. She has traveled throughout Africa in this role and in 2010 testified before the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health.

Messing also supports the Human Rights Campaign, Everytown for Gun Safety, and the Joyful Heart Foundation. In 2014, the Trevor Project awarded Messing the Trevor Life Award for her contributions to the LGBTQ community.

"If I can use my voice to help push things forward," Messing says, "then it's my privilege to use it."

More From Debra