Messina was born in Greenwich Village, of Italian-American descent. He attended Xavier High School and then later, New York University.
Known for his deconstructive take on biographical subjects, Messina's most notable stage work as director includes the critically acclaimed Off-Broadway plays Cirque Jacqueline, about the life of Jackie Kennedy Onassis, and Mercury: The Afterlife and Times of a Rock God, a monodrama written by Messina about Queen's frontman Freddie Mercury, which starred Khalid Gonçalves and later, Amir Darvish. A film version of Mercury: The Afterlife and Times of a Rock God is currently in development.
In 1999, Actor Found Dead, a one-act play written and directed by Messina about actor James Hayden (who Messina, as a child, had seen in American Buffalo), debuted at the John Houseman Studio Theatre in New York City. The play starred Khalid Gonçalves as Hayden, with Andrew I. Mones and David B. Martin. A screenplay based on Hayden's life was optioned in late 2007.
In August 2007 Messina directed Two-Mur Humor, which was an official entry in the 2007 Fringe Festival in NYC.
In 2007 Messina also directed the big budget musical Be My Love: The Mario Lanza Story, written by Richard Vetere, about the life of singer Mario Lanza, which was produced by Sonny Grosso and Phil Ramone. It premiered at The Tilles Center for the Performing Arts in Greenvale, NY.
For the big screen, Messina has written They're Just My Friends, which was released in Fall 2006 and starred Lord Jamar, Malik Yoba, and Bruce Altman. He has also written the film Spy starring Vincent Pastore, Frank Vincent, and Ben Curtis.
Also in 2007, Messina's play Merging starring Jason Cerbone, Gina Ferranti and Ernest Mingione won BEST PLAY in The Players' Theater's Shortened Attention Span Theater Festival in Greenwich Village. Messina also directed the film version of Merging, which was released in 2009.
Messina has directed the off-Broadway shows Rockaway Boulevard by Richard Vetere, The Accidental Pervert by Andrew Goffman, and Art Metrano's Accidental Comedy. As well as a staged reading of his own script Younger, starring Joe Piscopo.
Messina's play, Homeland, which premiered in 2008, starred Sopranos actors Dan Grimaldi, Jason Cerbone, Joe Lisi, as well as Gina Ferranti and Amir Darvish.
Messina wrote the book My Father, My Don, about the life of Genovese Capo James "Jimmy Nap" Napoli and his son Tony Napoli, in collaboration with Tony Napoli. It was released by Beckham Publications Group in Fall 2008 and is currently available in Barnes & Noble and other major retail bookstores.
In 2009, Messina's play A Room of My Own, about an Italian-American family living in Greenwich Village in the late 1970s, was optioned and is currently being developed for stage and screen by executive producer Ted Kurdyla with actors Ralph Macchio and Mario Cantone attached in lead roles. On September 20, 2010, a staged reading of the script was performed at The Theatre at 45 Bleecker Street in Greenwich Village with Macchio, Cantone, Lynne Koplitz, Gina Ferranti, Johnny Tammaro, John Barbieri, and Kendra Jain.
In May 2010, Messina directed and co-wrote (along with Vincent Gogliormella) the script 'Twas The Night Before a Brooklyn Christmas, starring Mario Cantone, Michael Rispoli and Robert Cuccioli, also at 45 Bleecker Street.
Messina is currently collaborating with Dion DiMucci on a musical about the singer's life called The Wanderer, with Ted Kurdyla as Executive Producer. The first reading of the play was performed at the Triad Theater in New York City on October 13, 2011.
He is represented by Ron Gwiazda, Abrams Artists Agency (playwriting, screenwriting, directing) and Josselyne Herman & Associates (Management).