Debra Messing has never been shy about protesting President Trump and his policies.
At the GLAAD Media Awards on Saturday, though, the “Will & Grace” star momentarily focused her grievances on someone else: Ivanka Trump.
“There is someone I would like to make a direct appeal to this evening,” Messing said, before jokingly referring to the first daughter as the secretary of state. “Ivanka … girlfriend … what are you doing? C’mon, it’s me, Deb. Let’s talk for a second, one Jewish mother to another.”
Since January, Ivanka Trump has been a highly visible member of her father’s presidency, participating in roundtable discussions, meeting with world leaders, moving into her own office in the West Wing and, after ethics concerns were raised, formally becoming an unpaid federal employee.
She even has high-level security clearance.
However, the first daughter has demurred when asked about ways in which she has opposed President Trump, instead casting a general impression that she is a “moderating” force on her father.
Critics have blasted Ivanka Trump for trying to “have it both ways.”
And Messing was not buying it either, imploring the first daughter to take more public action.
“It is not enough to simply say that women’s issues are important to you. It’s time to do something,” she said at the GLAAD event. “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 fight in court for their basic human dignity.”
The pleas were a reference to President Trump’s efforts to ramp up deportation of undocumented immigrants, his yet-unfilled promise to replace the Affordable Care Act with “insurance for everybody,” and his rollback of Obama-era federal protections for transgender students.
Ivanka Trump has continued generally championing women’s empowerment in the workforce and is reportedly in talks with the World Bank about setting up a fund for female entrepreneurs.
It’s a familiar platform for her: When she was still the head of her clothing and accessories brand, she once launched an initiative called Women Who Work, a hashtag she continues to promote. It’s also the title of her new book published earlier this month.
“Ivanka, please, please stop blindly defending your father and start defending what you say you believe in,” Messing urged Saturday, to applause. “You can’t just write ‘#womenwhowork’ and think you’re advancing feminism. You need to be a woman who does good work #saywhatyoumeanandmeanwhatyousay.”
She added: “Ivanka, we know you love the guy who does your hair color. It’s good, by the way. So do right by your colorist. And by all of us.
“Imagine how you’ll 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.”
Messing ended her pleas to Ivanka Trump with a “bonus” promise that if the first daughter could get controversial White House chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon removed from the administration, her clothing line might even be put back in Nordstrom.
The department store announced in February it would drop Ivanka Trump-branded clothing, shoes and accessories after a boycott campaign by the anti-Trump group Grab Your Wallet.
Messing was accepting the GLAAD Excellence in Media Award, given to “media professionals who, through their work, have increased the visibility and understanding of the LGBTQ community.”
The actress has said that, since starring in “Will & Grace,” advocating for the LGBT community became “part of my life mission.” The popular sitcom last ran a decade ago, and a new season is set to air in the fall.
Throughout the 2016 presidential race, Messing campaigned for Hillary Clinton. She also spoke at the Democratic National Convention in the summer. She has been unapologetic about her disdain for President Trump, whom she didn’t name in her speech Saturday except to call him “a very bad and orange man in our White House — at least a few days a month.”
“We are fighting for the soul of our country,” Messing said. “Things are getting dire. To paraphrase Charles Dickens, this year has sucked. Our democracy and humanity have been under attack. But unless you are an unenlightened, straight, cisgender, white male, you are a target. That means that makes us all a target.”