Tim Boxer: Outstanding Mother Awards

As her mother is her role model, Debra Messing brought her to share the moment at the 35th annual Outstanding Mother Awards last week. “In honoring me you are really celebrating her,” Debra said.

The 2003 Emmy winner for NBC’s Will & Grace, and current star of Smash on the same network, said her mother, Sandra Ellen Messing, grew up with very little “but always had hope and chutzpah.” As a teenager in the 1950s, Sandy recorded albums with an all-girl quartet, The Brookstones. She married at age 16 and became the mother of two very energetic children.

Brooklyn-born Debra, who grew up in East Greenwich, Rhode Island, would dream aloud about someday becoming an actress. Mom would say, “It has to be someone, why not you?”

Her brother Brett wanted to be president.

Her mother, Debra continued, was driven to give back to the community, “working tirelessly for the Jewish Federation. She believed the greatest gift you could give a child was education. And so this woman, who never got to go, proudly watched both of her kids graduate from college, and go on to earn master’s degrees.”

One day as an exhausted, overwhelmed new mother, working actress and HIV advocate, Debra called her mom in tears. “I was feeling paralyzed and inept, despairing over the impossibility of doing it all.”

Mom was calm and steady and told her, “You can’t have it all. But I do believe you can have it all at different times. Prioritize. And be kind to yourself.”

Applause thundered from the 500 guests at the 35th anniversary Outstanding Mother Awards sponsored by the National Mother’s Day Committee at the Pierre Hotel in Manhattan.

The committee also honored Margarita Arriagada, chief merchant of Sephora USA; Dottie Mattison, senior managing director of Guggenheim Partners; and Arianna Huffington, president of the Huffington Post Media Group, who was represented by daughter Christina while her mother was in Japan to launch Huffington Post there.

About the Author
Tim Boxer is a former New York Post columnist, and is longtime columnist for the New York Jewish Week. He is also editor of 15MinutesMagazine.com, is the author of Jewish Celebrity Hall of Fame, interviews of Hollywood stars about their Jewish roots.