Debra Messing on Why She Doesn’t Recommend Being on Twitter All the Time

The actress caught up with W to chat all about the political return of Will & Grace, the effects of being on social media all the time, and her tips for a winning selfie.

SAG-AFTRA Foundation Conversations Screening of "Will & Grace"
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Debra Messing has become increasingly vocal about politics in recent years.

The actress openly supported Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election, a decision that launched her highly publicized social media “feud” with the Bernie Sanders supporter Susan Sarandon, and she continues to use her platform to speak out against social injustices on social media.

Meanwhile, Grace Adler, the well-meaning interior designer Messing plays on the recently revived sitcom Will & Grace, has undergone a similar evolution. After the cast of Will & Grace reunited for a short sketch encouraging NBC viewers to vote in 2016, the network green-lit a revival that made its way back on the air the following year. In its tenth official season, Will & Grace continues to politicize the relationships depicted between the four main characters onscreen, as liberal Grace runs for president of the New York Society of Design, while the politically incorrect, albeit somewhat affable, Karen (played by Megan Mullally) continues to vocalize her support for Donald Trump.

Messing caught up with W to chat all about the political return of Will & Grace, the effects of being online all the time, and her tips for a winning selfie.

You often share a morning mantra from your mug of tea on Snapchat and Instagram. What’s your mantra for this week?

Breathe deeply and believe.

Where does that come from?

With the Kavanaugh confirmation, obviously there’s a lot of chaos and very strong emotions that have come out from this confirmation hearing. Because of that, that’s my mantra for getting through the week.

How did you decide to use your social media platform to support social justice and reform?

I feel like, being a public person, it is a privilege to have a platform that is larger than most. I think that there’s a responsibility associated with that privilege. I wanted to start using my platform to support initiatives that were specifically marked toward social justice and reform. There are so many new policies, since this administration has taken over, that have eroded rights, and it is very concerning to me. I follow people who are much, much smarter than I am, and I learn from them, and if I read something that I feel is particularly illuminating, in my opinion, I’ll share it with the hope that it might be interesting to the people who are following me.

How do you deal with the overwhelming aspect of being on social media constantly, especially when you’re so actively political on Twitter?

It does take a toll. There definitely is a drain on me, emotionally, physically, spiritually, being on social media. It’s something that I’m trying to negotiate and find balance. I’ve had a hard time, I have to admit, because it seems like so many important things and scary things happen so quickly, several times in one day.

Moving away from your political tweets for a second, and into the more jovial side of social media, you also post a lot of selfies on Instagram. What’s your secret for taking the best selfie?

Well, if you want to take a great selfie, the first thing is finding good light. If that means looking up into the light and holding the camera above that, that usually helps. A good selfie usually includes a great smile, and I use Colgate Optic White, and have for years. It really works. Every morning, I have a blueberry smoothie, and it takes a toll on the brightness of your teeth, but you don’t realize your teeth are getting dull until you look in pictures. I’ve been using this toothpaste for so long, and I looked back in pictures from 20 years ago, and my teeth are the same color! It really works for selfie game.

How do you unplug?

I feel like I can’t keep quiet, but I try to unwind and to unplug, especially during mealtime. My time with my son is limited, so when I’m with him, I prioritize that. Right now, it’s a very dense time. I’m hoping we’ll find repose soon.

You have over 500,000 followers on Twitter; how do you deal with people who respond or clap back to what you post?

If they’re just haters, and they’re not interested in a thoughtful dialogue, I just ignore it. If I feel like there’s a genuine attempt to discuss both sides of an issue, then I’ll engage, because obviously I don’t know everything, but when it comes to things as basic as equal rights, that’s where I feel like it’s a no-brainer. When someone says that the Equal Rights Amendment should not past, or the protections against violence against women should not be reinstalled, then I have questions of, Why not? Why would you not want protection put in place and assert that women have equal rights in our country in 2018?

What are some of your favorite accounts to follow?

I follow The Washington Post. That’s where I get a lot of my information about the world. I feel like Steve Schmidt is one of the smartest people I’ve ever heard speak. He was a lifelong Republican and has just become a Democrat. I don’t agree with everything that he believes, but I respect him very much. If there is someone to follow and know who I feel could challenge me in my thinking, in a respectful way, he’s one of them. Representative Ted Lieu is someone who is very outspoken, and, I feel, respectful and smart. When it comes to the rules about confirmation and process, that is so outside my realm of knowledge, and I know they’ll explain it to me in a way that I can understand.

Do you think Grace Adler, your character on Will & Grace, would be as politically active on social media as you are if she were a real person?

I definitely think she’d be active. This season, actually, she runs for office, so we see her in her own way, in a funny way, becoming involved and becoming very passionate about having a voice. I imagine if she were a real person that she would speak her mind. I don’t imagine that she would be on social media as much as I am, because I don’t recommend that for anybody. [Laughs.]

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