Though Debra Messing's family dynamic has changed in the last year — she's now a single parent — the bond she shares with her son, Roman, has not been altered. The actress, best known for her role as Grace Adler on "Will & Grace," has been enjoying a fun-filled summer in Manhattan with the 8-year-old, who is also a frequent visitor on the set of his mom's latest project, the musical TV series "Smash."
The 44-year-old actress, who is in the process of divorcing TV producer Daniel Zelman, was born in Brooklyn but moved with her family to Rhode Island as a young girl. When it later came time for grad school, Messing returned to the Big Apple. Now her son is getting to experience life as a city kid while she shoots the NBC series, which is about the behind-the-scenes drama on the set of a Broadway musical, in Manhattan. "We see Broadway plays often," Messing tells omg!. "He loved 'Newsies,' that was the most recent one. He also loved 'The Little Mermaid' and 'Mary Poppins.'" Their other favorite things to do together in the city? "We spend a lot of time in Central Park, just playing outside and walking. He also likes ice cream, so we'll make little trips to the ice cream store." No doubt, some of those ice cream dates involve Mariska Hargitay's 6-year-old son August. "Her son and my son are like brothers. They're very close," reveals Messing, who calls the "Law & Order: SVU" star "my best girl."
Earlier this week, Messing's new "Smash" co-star Jennifer Hudson was seen on the set with her young son, and Messing notes Roman is often a visitor as well. "Especially now because school hasn't begun yet and he just finished day camp, he is able to come. He's been on a set since he was 4 months old, so it's like a second home to him. Now we're in our second year, so Christian Borle is like Uncle Christian to him and [he's close with] Jack Davenport," says Messing, who is dating her "Smash" co-star Will Chase. "He also got to hug Jennifer Hudson. I have a picture of him with her. It's fun having him there."
Also fun is the special parenting practice she uses with her child: note writing. "I have been doing it for my son for years," shares the actress. "I leave notes on the mirror of his bathroom, on the refrigerator. I have them in his books and his book bag. I don't know if it sort of tickles me more than it tickles him, but I feel like they are kind of love notes. They encourage him and make him feel supported and loved throughout the day when he finds them." Roman has taken to writing his own, which she says she saves in a special box. "He leaves me notes that typically just say, 'I love you mama,' which is the only note that makes me cry," she says.
Because she is such a big fan of notes, Messing jumped at the chance to work with Post-it Brand on a new program they launched called Post-it Your Words Stick With Them, which highlights the power of a handwritten message. On Wednesday, Messing made an appearance at PS 15 Roberto Clemente Elementary School on the Lower East Side to help kick off the campaign and also announce a partnership with AdoptAClassroom.org in which Post-it Brand adopted all of the classrooms in PS 15, helping the teachers get the much-needed supplies they need for the school year.
"It's exciting to be here for this," says Messing, who later met with students and teachers during her visit. "Now the teachers are going to be able to go online and request specific school supplies that they need and they are going to be provided free. So it's wonderful to know that our local school is going to be helped in that way."
While Messing usually spends a few weeks on Cape Cod each summer, Roman had to visit his grandparents without his mother this year because she was busy doing work for another cause close to her heart. "Unfortunately, I was not able to [accompany Roman on vacation], but I was able to travel to Zambia, which was wonderful," she says of her trip to southern Africa. "I am Global Ambassador for PSI, a global health organization, so it was a different kind of vacation, but it was very meaningful."
As for "Smash," well, it won't be returning to the airwaves until January, but fans of the show will get to see their faves on Emmy night next month. Messing, who won an Emmy for "Will & Grace" in 2003, was kind of enough to share the tried-and-true fashion tip she uses on every red carpet. "I just always keep my mother's words in mind, which are: 'Shoulders back!' It makes a huge difference. And find a gown that you are really comfortable in because you're going to be in it for like 14 hours," she laughs.
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