Debra was born in Brooklyn in the United States. She attended Brandeis University where she majored in theater arts. She spent half of her junior year studying in a London program which featured dramatic arts teachers recruited from various distinguished institutions such as the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts, Cambridge University and Oxford University. Upon graduating summa cum laude from Brandeis, she was accepted into New York University's elite Graduate Acting Program and received her master of fine arts degree.
On television Debra starred in the comedy Ned & Stacey, while also appearing on NYPD Blue, Seinfeld, and Prey, before landing the role of Grace Adler in the successful eight-year run of Will & Grace, for which she won an Emmy in 2003 for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series.
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