EXCLUSIVE: Will & Grace star Debra Messing and Mandana Dayani, co-founder of nonpartisan organization I Am A Voter, are launching a podcast to shine a spotlight on people who have challenged the status quo.
The pair are launching The Dissenters on May 21 and the first season of the show will feature 20 episodes.
Messing and Dayani spoke to Deadline about the move, how they chose the people that inspired them and why they wanted to get into the medium of podcasting.
The first season will include guests such as Glennon Doyle, founder of Together Rising, Adam Schiff, Jane Fonda and Patrisse Cullors.
It is produced by Dear Media, Messing, Dayani and Erica First.
Messing told Deadline, “We’re both nerds, we’re very much into activism and organizing and we realized all of these people that re inspiring us, we wanted to share with other people. we wanted to meet our heroes.”
Dayani, who previously worked with fashion guru Rachel Zoe and appeared on her Bravo series, added, “We have both worked as social justice advocates. There are so many people that want to get off the sidelines and give back, but they either feel like activism is something that other people do, they’re not qualified or they don’t have enough followers. But the more we learned was that most of these people had any prior experience.”
The show is named after Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s iconic “I dissent” slogan.
“We laugh and we cry, we’re vulnerable and we have no idea how each interview will unfold,” said Messing. “It’s very much dispelling the idea that these people are on pedestals. Most of these people had no intention of getting any notoriety, it came out of a need to do something. That something for them has turned out to be incredible, meaningful, life changing work. Everyone can do something.”
“What all of these people have done is fight the establishment, stand up for some version of injustice or challenge the status quo, they’ve seen a better way to do something and decided to create it or advocate for it,” added Dayani.
Guests feature come from a wide variety of areas and industries. “We wanted to show there were dissenters everywhere, it’s not just in the political or social justice lane, it’s in the fashion lane and it’s in sports,” said Messing.
The actor, whose NBC comedy Will & Grace recently ended, for a second time, highlighted that the podcasting medium gives them the opportunity to go into detail that social media can’t. “It’s very hard to dive deep in social media, we are really curious women, we have a million questions and it just seems like finally there’s a form where we can sit at the table and ask these questions and take the time and not put everything into a neat little quote.”
Messing was set to star in Noah Haidle’s play Birthday Candles before COVID-19 shutdown Broadway. She is still hopeful that the play, which is directed by Vivienne Benesch and co-stars Andre Braugher and Enrico Colantoni, will go ahead down the line.
“We were two weeks into four-week rehearsal process, it’s devastating. Luckily, the artistic director loves the play so much that he said we will do it when we can. He said the fall and I don’t know when it will be safe to go back to Broadway, but the fact that there’s a commitment to doing it, it’s a magnificent play.”
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