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Q&A With Debra Messing

Marion Curtis, StarPics

We caught up with Debra Messing, star of the hit tv show Smash, at the unveiling of the Post-it Your Words Stick With Them program to talk a little bit about motherhood, show biz, and son Roman’s love of musical theater. 

How are you handling the chaos of back to school?
As of right now, I think I’m doing pretty well. I’m on top of clothing, and, the thing I love most is, the school supplies, and we have yet to do that. But that is a half-day adventure.

Should be fun!

You once mentioned that your love of Broadway musicals motivated you to get involved in Smash. Does your son also love Broadway musicals?
He does, he does, he has seen so many musicals now that we’re living here. It is an incredible privilege and thrill to be able to go to a matinee on the weekend and see, you know, see Mary Poppins flying through the air. It’s a gift, I think, that is pretty powerful to give to my son.

Do you have a favorite that you both love?
You know what? - it keeps changing. We both loved The Little Mermaid, we both loved Mary Poppins, we just saw Bring It On, and that was fantastic. You know, I think he just…loves it all. Actually I think Newsies is the one he’s most excited about right now.

How do you balance motherhood and your career?
An hour at a time. It’s very hard, most women are working women and most mothers are working mothers, so, we’re being pulled in a lot of directions all the time. Multitasking is something that I was never good at and now I think I’ve become a professional multitasker. Some days I’m better at being a mom, and other days, you know, I’ve fallen short. But I try and not beat myself up because I know my heart is in the right place and my priorities are in the right place and we can only do what we can do.

What are some of your son’s favorite subjects in school? Are they the same as yours?
He loves reading, and I unfortunately was not a big reader when I was very young - I discovered it much later. And he likes history, and I liked history as well.

You also mentioned you write post-it notes for him. What are some of your favorite notes, and do you try to write something new every day?
Well I’ve been doing it for so long now, there are definite repetitions. I think I’ve left him a post-it note that said “I love you” more times than I can count. But especially when it comes to school or something that might be a challenge for him, I like to leave notes and surprise him with notes in his backpack or on the refrigerator or, I left one on his pillow that just said, you know, “I believe in you” or “have fun today” or, “laugh too hard” or, you know, just positive, positive reinforcement, letting him know that he’s special and that I believe in him and that, hopefully, that will translate into him believing in himself.

On Smash, your character Julia is also a working mother in the entertainment industry. Is that a part of why you were drawn to her, and what experiences as a mother have you brought to the rule?
I definitely responded, and was attracted to the role because she was a working mom. I liked the fact that the script addressed the difficulty of balancing it, and I think that I bring an authenticity to the character because I am a mom. I think nothing can change you more than becoming a mother.

How would you describe your parenting style?
Um, consistent? [Laughter.]

What has your son has said or done recently that made you laugh?
We were at a Jets game, and it was past his bedtime, and he was yawning. I turned to him and I said, “You're tired, huh?”  And he looked at me and said, “Go figure.”

What is the best thing about being a mom?
Watching him discover himself.