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Debra Messing says she was asked to wear fake breasts when starting out in TV

The president of the TV network apparently told producers he wanted her to wear them.
Debra Messing spoke candidly about a sexist request she got at the start of her career.
LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 09: Actress Debra Messing arrives at NBC's \"Will & Grace\" FYC Event at the Harmony Gold Theatre on June 9, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)Kevin Winter / Getty Images
/ Source: TODAY

When Debra Messing first started out in the entertainment industry, she had to deal with a pretty uncomfortable request from a network executive.

“I had to wear fake boobs when I first started in Hollywood on my first sitcom,” the actress, 49, revealed in an interview with Sharon Stone for Variety’s “Actors on Actors” series.

Producers gave her silicone inserts, or "cutlets" as they're commonly referred to, and asked her to wear them to make her chest look bigger.

“They gave me the cutlets and I had just graduated with my masters from NYU in acting and I was like, ‘I’m an actress!’ and they’re like, ‘Here.’”

Messing protested, saying she thought the cutlets made her look “stupid,” but producers insisted. Someone even told her, “The president of the network called and said he wants you to wear those.”

“I was in shock,” Messing recalled. “I was new to the industry and I just thought, I can’t say no, you know?”

Messing, who became a household name after “Will & Grace," didn’t name the sitcom in question.

Messing also spoke with Stone about the general pressure for female characters on television to be pretty above all else. She revealed how she fought against that narrow gender stereotype in her own hit sitcom.

“When I did ‘Will & Grace,’ I said to them, I don’t want to be the pretty girl who stands in the corner,” she said. “That’s not going to make me happy.”

Still, it was an ongoing battle. She recalled one instance when “Will & Grace” producers cut a piece of great physical comedy she did because it was “too ugly for Grace. Grace has got to be pretty.”

“I was devastated,” Messing said.

Now, at least, the Emmy-winning actress says she does not get the same kinds of requests to change her body as she did when just starting out — and definitely no requests to wear breast enhancers.

“Now, no one comes at me with those things,” she said. “I’m like, ‘I’m flat-chested, I love it.’”