Debra Messing: Why I'm Going to the Women's March on Washington (Q&A)

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"All we have to do is to not be armchair activists," says the actress as she heads from a New York rally to D.C. by bus for the big Saturday protest.

Debra Messing wasn't watching any of the Trump inauguration pomp and circumstance on Friday. 

"I did not watch any of the coverage at all," she says. Instead, last night, she attended New York's Unity rally, an anti-Trump protest that included Mark Ruffalo and mayor Bill de Blasio outside the Trump International Hotel. 

The actress had been a staunch Hillary Clinton supporter, who spoke in Philadelphia at the Democratic Convention in support of the candidate last July. Now she's taking a bus down from New York to D.C. for the star-studded Women's March on Washington on Saturday.

As she heads to the capital, she spoke with The Hollywood Reporter by phone about some of her plans to stay politically engaged as the Trump administration arrives.

You're one of several Hollywood names headlining the Women's March in D.C. Can you share more about your plans?

I’m very honored to have been asked to be a member of the Artist Table. There are many, many very passionate, outspoken, articulate, proud women who are a part of the table and we all have agreed to use our voices and to speak out about the importance of an event like this, how historic it is, and that is a cause for celebration. We will all be there at the rally prior to the march.

What message do you hope that the march sends to the president?

I hope that it sends a message to the new administration, to the Senate, to the House that this is an organized movement. That we will be watching very closely and we are willing to fight and defend the civil rights that we hold so dear in this country. That our democracy is our greatest privilege. And that everything that we have spent decades fighting for, we will not stand quietly if the administration tries to reverse.

We believe that a woman’s right to make medical and reproductive decisions are her own. We believe in a person’s right to love and marry whomever they want. We stand behind Dreamers and their right to not be ripped apart from their families. We are celebrating and making very clear to the administration that we believe it’s time that there is an actual Equal Rights Amendment. That, 2017, it’s time for our government to finally assert that women and men are equal.

It’s going to be extraordinary because people from all races, all religious backgrounds, are coming together and are going to use what we have — which is our voices — to celebrate what we believe in.

Are you bringing or making any signs for the protest?

Yes, indeed. Everyone’s making signs, isn’t that part of the tradition of marches? I have boards here and markers and it’s going to be very old-school.

What are you going to write on the signs?

I haven’t decided yet. I have a couple of things in mind.

As Trump takes office, in what ways do you plan to stay politically engaged or encourage others to do so?

I’ve never been very politically active. I’ve always been incredibly interested in politics and policy making. And, obviously, civil rights. But now I am very, very motivated and committed to taking action as a civilian every day to make sure that my senators and representatives understand my concerns.

I’m working along with some other advocacy groups trying to make sure that people know when important votes are coming up. And trying to just galvanize enthusiasm and to instill in people the understanding that, as a group, change is possible.

All we have to do is to not be armchair activists. It’s just going to require more of us. And I think that people are seeing that and are committed.

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