Debra Messing had a strong message for Ivanka Trump at the GLAAD Media Awards: “It’s time to do something.”
The 48-year-old actor – who played Grace Adler for eight years on Will & Grace – was presented with the Excellence in Media award at the ceremony, given to those who advocate for LGBT visibility. And, when she stepped up to accept the gong, Messing decided to take aim at the First Daughter in a powerful, and, at times, incredibly funny, speech.
Addressing the eldest daughter of President Donald Trump directly, Messing asked: “Ivanka, girlfriend, what are you doing? Come on, it's me, Deb, let's talk for a second, one Jewish mother to another.
“It is not enough to simply say that women's issues are important to you, it's time to do something.”
Messing – whose Jewish ancestors emigrated to the USA from Russia and Poland – continued: “Ivanka, you can change the lives of millions of women and children just by telling your dad stories about real people who are suffering.
“Don’t let him separate immigrant mothers from their American-born children. Don’t let him take health care away from women who need it. Don’t allow him to make trans kids like Gavin [Grimm] fight in court for their basic human dignity.”
“Ivanka, please, please stop blindly defending your father and start defending what you say,” implored Messing, pressing her hand to her heart. “You can’t just write ‘hashtag women who work’ and think you’re advancing feminism. You need to be a woman who does good work – hashtag say what you mean and mean what you say.”
Warming to her theme, the actor went on to joke: “Ivanka we know you love the guy who does your hair colour – it’s good by the way – so do right by your colourist and by all of us.”
As the audience descended into giggles, Messing decided to adopt a more sombre tone for her big finale.
“Imagine how you will feel sitting at Passover Seder if you can tell your children that you fought for justice and freedom. It will make you feel richer than owning all the skyscrapers and golf courses in the world.”
But, unable to resist one last joke, Messing added cheekily: “If you get Steve Bannon out of office, I bet we’ll put you back in Nordstrom.”
Nordstrom, of course, is one of four retailers who have nixed the Ivanka Trump fashion line from their shelves, following a global boycott.
Predictably, Messing’s speech did not go down well with online trolls, with many taking to Twitter to slam her for her choice of words.
The video of Messing’s speech – which has over 669,500 views at time of writing – has also received quadruple the number of dislikes to likes, which GLAAD attributes to a coordinated attack from online trolls.
Speaking to The Huffington Post, Kate Ellis, GLAAD President and CEO, said: “As the alt-right dogpiles on this video, Messing’s important message of unity is reaching the people who need it most.
“Plus the fair-minded Americans who are commenting on Messing’s GLAAD video are reminding the world that the resistance is louder.”
During her speech, Messing jokingly addressed Ivanka as the Secretary of State. This was a sly jibe at the fact that while Trump’s daughter has no official role in her father’s administration, her influence on him is well-known.
The president himself has referenced the powerful effect his supposedly favourite child has on his political decisions, tweeting that she is “always pushing me to do the right thing”.
A self-proclaimed feminist, Ivanka made regular appearances on her father’s behalf during the US election campaign – going as far as to defend his crude comments about women and insisting that his recorded boasts about sexual assault were not consistent with the man she knew.
And, since President Trump took office in January, Ivanka has been acting as an unofficial presidential counsellor (her husband, Jared Kushner, is a senior White House adviser). The couple have been frequently depicted as moderating forces in the Trump administration: voices of urbane tolerance and relative liberality in the face of the President’s brash impulsiveness and the far-right tendencies of many in his cabinet.
However, over the past few months, Ivanka has been hit by a backlash accusing her of “co-opting feminism” in a quest for personal gain and power, while others have labelled her an “accomplice” in the actions of Trump. Scarlett Johansson mocked the First Daughter in a spoof perfume ad for Saturday Night Live, which was pointedly titled ‘Complicit’.
Ivanka, of course, is not the main issue – a fact which Messing begrudgingly acknowledged in her GLAAD speech.
“That makes us all a target. There is a very bad and very orange man in the White House. At least a few times a month.”
Images: Rex Features