It started in Chicago, where Debra wrote and sang original musicals for her stuffed animals when she was very young. She began an illustrious theatrical career starring as Toto in a summer camp production of Wizard of Oz. Barely surviving head-to-toe fur in sweltering July heat, she already knew how to suffer for her art.
Debra studied acting at the nationally-acclaimed Piven Theatre Workshop with such talents as John Cusack, Joan Cusack, and Jeremy Piven. Her vocal training began at the Northwestern University vocal department while still attending high school. She declined an opera scholarship to Oberlin Conservatory in order to study musical theatre at University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM.)
She took a quarter off to work for a few months in live theatre. Fifteen productions later, she returned to school and graduated magna cum laude from Tufts University and received a Masters of Fine Arts in musical theatre from San Diego State University, where she graduated Phi Kappa Phi as a Marion Ross Scholar.
Debra has performed in regional theatres and cabaret clubs across the country, most frequently in Los Angeles, San Diego, Boston, and South Florida. In Professionally Speaking at the Off-Broadway, The Miami Herald hailed her “a comic sparkplug.” Her role in Triumph of Love won a KPBS-TV Patté award. Her one-woman show My Nights With George, Kurt & Cole, (co-written and directed by comic genius, Phil Johnson) was featured at various venues throughout Southern California and won Best New Play and Best Actress at the 2003 San Diego Actors Festival, and the San Diego Playbill Billie Award for Best Actress in a musical.