‘The Will & Grace’ actress says ‘being a woman over 40 is difficult’ in the workplace
Debra Messing had to fight for her own work-life balance.
The 49-year-old actress and single mom once told her boss she couldn’t work longer than 12 hours a day before accepting a job offer and when the agreement went off script, she walked off set.
“I said the only way I can take this job is if I know I can be there with my son when he wakes up and when he goes to bed and if you can’t accommodate that, totally respect it, but those are my terms and they agreed,” Messing tells Moneyish.
“And then I was on the set and it was clear that 12 hours was approaching and nobody was going to facilitate me leaving and I had to go up and say ‘I’m leaving.’ Having to go through that and having someone be like ‘you can’t, you’re not done yet’ was very frustrating. To have to fight for something that was already pre-negotiated felt like I was being disrespected.”
Messing, an avid women’s rights activist, was also vocal about wanting her Emmy-award winning character Grace Adler to be a feminist on the reboot of NBC’s 90’s mega hit “Will & Grace.”
“I really wanted to make sure that Grace had grown and evolved. It was important to me that they show a woman who feels like her life is fulfilled without having a child and without having a partner, with having amazing friends and to be autonomous,” she said at Allergan’s CoolSculpting event in New York City.
The hit sitcom also starring Megan Mullally, Eric McCormack and Sean Hayes attracted 10.2 million viewers upon its return to the small screen after an 11-year hiatus. Messing is thrilled to have her old gig back, but recognizes how hard it can be for women of a certain age to grow their careers in Hollywood and at the corporate office.
— Moneyish (@Moneyish) October 26, 2017
“Being a woman over 40 is difficult,” Messing tells Moneyish. “There are so many industries, including my own, where youth is valued higher than experience or in some cases, ability and I think that it’s true in every industry.”
More recently, Messing has been using her voice and celebrity to shed light on controversial workplace issues like sexual harassment in wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal. She’s supported the “#MeToo” movement on social media encouraging women to come forward with sexual assault experiences in an effort to empower victims.
The “Wedding Date” star still doesn’t have an answer on how to combat sexual misconduct, but she hopes more men will speak up when they witness it happening.
“We know that too often women are not believed or they are stigmatized or rejected because they might be a trouble maker. I don’t know what the answer is other than having women in more positions of power being able to demand a reasonable and respectful workplace. I hope that our male allies will now speak up and take some steps to say ‘I will not stand by while this happens anymore.’ That’s my hope.”
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