Roma Downey

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Roma Downey
Roma Downey 2015.jpg
Roma Downey in 2015
Born (1960-05-06) 6 May 1960 (age 56)
Derry, Northern Ireland
Alma mater Brighton College of Art
Drama Studio London
University of Santa Monica
Occupation Actress, producer
Years active 1988–present
Religion Roman Catholicism
Spouse(s)
Children 1 daughter, 2 stepsons

Roma Downey (born 6 May 1960) is an Emmy nominated actress and producer from Northern Ireland. For nine seasons she played Monica, the tender-hearted angel and employee of Tess (played by Della Reese), on the CBS television series Touched by an Angel, for which she earned multiple Emmy Award and Golden Globe Award Best Actress nominations. Born in Derry, Northern Ireland and classically trained in London, she has performed on stage with the famed Abbey Theatre and has appeared both on and off Broadway. She played the leading role of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis in the miniseries for NBC, A Woman Named Jackie (1991). Downey starred in and was executive producer for a number of hit television movies for the CBS network. Downey is an ambassador for Operation Smile. On August 11, 2016, Downey received her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Della Reese, Rick Warren, and husband, Mark Burnett, spoke at the Ceremony on Downey's behalf. Her star is located next to the star of husband, Burnett.

As President of LightWorkers Media, a division of MGM, Downey together with her husband Mark Burnett produced the Emmy-nominated miniseries The Bible for History channel which was watched by over 100 million people in the United States alone. Downey and Burnett also produced the feature film version Son of God (2014). Variety recognized Downey and Burnett as "Trailblazers"[1] and listed Downey as one of Variety's "100 Most Powerful Women in Hollywood", The Hollywood Reporter included the couple in their "Most Influential People of 2013" and Downey as one of the "100 Women in Entertainment Power" in 2014.[2] She was honored on Variety's "Women of Impact in 2014".[3] Downey and Burnett also produced The Dovekeepers for CBS and A.D. The Bible Continues for NBC, Women of the Bible for Lifetime, and Answered Prayers for TLC.

Early life[edit]

Downey was born and raised in Derry, Northern Ireland,[4] in the Bogside district.[4] She attended Thornhill College, a Catholic girls school. Her mother, Maureen O'Reilly Downey, a homemaker and actress, died from a heart attack at age 48 when Downey was 10 years old. Her father, Patrick Downey, was a school teacher by training but worked as a mortgage broker.[4][5] Her father died when Downey was 20. Originally, she planned to be a painter and earned a Bachelor of Arts at Brighton College of Art. Roma studied BA(Hons) Expressive Arts at Brighton Polytechnic (which later became Brighton University). Based at the Falmer campus Downey combined Art and Drama for her degree. However, she turned her attention to acting and had a classical training attending Drama Studio London, where she performed in plays by Shakespeare, Shaw and Chekhov.[4]

Career[edit]

She joined the Abbey Players in Dublin and toured the United States in a production of The Playboy of the Western World.[6] The production led to a nomination during the Broadway run for the Helen Hayes Best Actress Award in 1991.[7] She also starred on Broadway in The Circle with Rex Harrison and also at the Roundabout Theater and The Public Theater in New York City.[8]

Downey played the role of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis in the American television miniseries A Woman Named Jackie (1991) which won the Emmy Award for Outstanding Miniseries in 1992.[9]

Touched by an Angel[edit]

Her role as Jacqueline Kennedy led to her most famous role, as the angel Monica, on the CBS series Touched by an Angel, opposite singer-actress, Della Reese, which ran from 1994 to 2003.

She received one nomination and one win at the TV Guide awards for favorite actress and also won two Emmy Award nominations and two Golden Globe nominations. Downey has said the character Monica interested her because it was a strong female role, which were "few and far between" and for its spiritual aspects:

Downey also produced and starred in television movies including Borrowed Hearts and Second Honeymoon.[8] During the run of Touched by an Angel, she recorded the spoken-word album Healing Angel.[11] and wrote the children's book Love Is A Family.[12] She hosted It's a Miracle (TV series), on the Pax Network and appeared on stage in A Picasso at the Geffen Theatre in Los Angeles. She has hosted Saturday Night Live,[13] was one of People magazine's most beautiful people and is a spokesperson for the volunteer group "Operation Smile".[14] During her nine seasons on-air, she developed a chemistry with Reese and the two struck up a friendship that continued in the aftermath of the series' cancellation.[15] In 2009, she starred in the movie Come Dance at My Wedding alongside John Schneider. On 16 July 2011, She appeared with actress Marion Ross in the made-for-TV movie Keeping up with the Randalls, broadcast on the Hallmark Channel.[16]

The Bible and beyond[edit]

On May 24, 2011, Downey and husband Mark Burnett announced they were producing a 10-hour docudrama for the History channel, The Bible, based on stories from the Bible scheduled to air in 2013.[17] They began planning it in 2009 and lined up their own financing.[18] The full production cost was $22 million USD.[19] Downey and Burnett wanted to stay as true to the content in the Bible as possible so they put together a wide variety of pastors and academics to review the script and filming. For example, they worked with Pastors Joel Osteen and Rick Warren and academics such as Craig A. Evans and Mark Goodacre.[20]

The Bible has been watched by over 100 million viewers in the United States alone [21][22] The series has been the number one downloaded series in iTunes and ranked number 2 on Amazon's best sellers in movies and television.[22] An under 2½ hour re-cut of the series meant for a theatrical release was released on 28 February 2014 in the United States, under the title Son of God.[23] The Bible was nominated for the 2013 Primetime Emmy Award, Outstanding Miniseries or Movie.' It was Downey and Burnett's first collaboration as producers. Downey played the role of Mary, the mother of Jesus in the later stages of his life.[22] The Bible was filmed in 2012 in Morocco.[24][25]

In July 2013, it was announced that Downey and Burnett would produce A.D., the sequel to The Bible.[26] In December 2013, NBC ordered A.D.. The series will cover the spread of Christianity after the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.[27]

Downey is the executive producer of the animated video series, Little Angels, which was released on DVD with 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment on February 14, 2012.[28] She released a YouTube video with Cee-Lo Green, "Mary Did You Know", that went viral with almost 3 million views.[29]

In December 2013, CBS announced a new miniseries with Downey and her husband, Mark Burnett, The Dovekeepers based on the New York Times Bestseller by Alice Hoffman. The miniseries aired in 2015.[30] In September 2014, MGM acquired a 55% interest in One Three Media and Lightworkers Media. The two companies consolidated into a new film and television company, United Artists Media Group. Burnett became UA's CEO and Downey became president of LightWorkers Media.[31][32]

Downey has been producing content for the big screen as well. Along with Burnett, she has produced Little Boy,[26] which was released in February 2015. In July 2015, Downey released Answered Prayers for TLC, a series about modern day miracles and divine intervention.[33] In December 2015, MGM acquired the remaining 45% of Hearst’s, Burnett’s and Downey‘s interests in United Artists Media Group (UAMG), which was absorbed under the MGM Television Group umbrella. Downey remains President of LightWorkers Media, which became the Faith & Family division of MGM.[citation needed]

In February 2016, Downey and Burnett were the keynote speakers at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, DC. They were the first husband and wife to keynote the National Prayer Breakfast, speaking in front of President Barack Obama and First Lady, Michelle Obama. Downey executive produced a re-telling of Ben-Hur,[34] starring Jack Huston, which was released in August 2016.[35]

Personal life[edit]

She is married to television producer/entrepreneur Mark Burnett. She has three children, two step-sons James Burnett and Cameron Burnett and her daughter Reilly Marie Downey Anspaugh (born 3 June 1996) from her previous marriage to director David Anspaugh. Reilly is named after her grandmother, Maureen O'Reilly Downey.[4] On Thanksgiving Day 2006, Burnett proposed to Downey during a family vacation in Zihuatanejo, Mexico.[36] They wed on 28 April 2007 in their Malibu home.[37] Her Touched by an Angel co-star, Della Reese, officiated at the wedding.

Downey is a "Smile Ambassador" for the non-profit organization Operation Smile which provides surgeries for children around the world who were born with severe cleft lip and palate.[38] She supported the unsuccessful candidacy of Martin McGuinness for President of Ireland in 2011.[39] Downey received the Sally Award by the Salvation Army for her contribution to entertainment and helping those in need on 1 October 2015.[40]

Downey was raised a Roman Catholic.[41] On 18 April 2009, Downey and Burnett delivered the keynote address and accepted an honorary doctorate of law at Pepperdine University's Graziadio School of Business and Management commencement ceremony. In 2010, Downey graduated from the University of Santa Monica with a master's degree in spiritual psychology.[42] Downey also has two honorary degrees; a Doctor of Fine Art (DFA) from the University of Ulster for her outstanding contribution to acting and philanthropy and a Doctor of Letters from Nyack College.

Filmography[edit]

Television[edit]

TV roles
Year Title Role Notes
1988 One Life to Live Lady Johanna Leighton Unknown episodes
1991 100 Lives of Black Jack Savage, TheThe 100 Lives of Black Jack Savage Danielle St. Clair Movie
1991 Disney Presents The 100 Lives of Black Jack Savage Danielle St. Clair 7 episodes
1991 Woman Named Jackie, AA Woman Named Jackie Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Episode: "The Bouvier Years"
1992 Getting Up and Going Home Kimberly Stevens Movie
1992 Devlin Eileen Movie
1993 New Year Suzanne Hartman Movie
1994 Hercules and the Amazon Women Hippolyta Movie
1994 Diagnosis: Murder Heather Winslow Episode: "Reunion with Murder"
1994–2003 Touched by an Angel Monica 211 episodes
1995 Child Is Missing, AA Child Is Missing Samantha Hallihan Movie
1996–1998 Promised Land Monica 3 episodes
1997 Borrowed Hearts Kathleen Russell Movie
1998 Monday After the Miracle Annie Sullivan Movie
1999 Secret Life, AA Secret Life Cassie Whitman Movie
1999 Test of Love, TheThe Test of Love Cassie Whitman Movie
2001 Second Honeymoon Maggie Weston Movie
2001 The Sons of Mistletoe Helen Radke Movie
2004 Survivors Club, TheThe Survivors Club Jillian Hayes Movie
2004 Division, TheThe Division Reagan Gilancy 3 episodes
2009 Come Dance at My Wedding Laura Williams Movie
2011 Keeping Up with the Randalls Barb Movie
2013 The Bible Mary, mother of Jesus Miniseries; 3 episodes

Film[edit]

Feature film roles
Year Title Role Notes
1995 Last Word, TheThe Last Word Roxy
1998 Monday After the Miracle Annie Sullivan Movie
2004 Funky Monkey Megan
2008 At Jesus' Side Petra Voice role
2014 Son of God Mother Mary

Producer[edit]

Year Title Notes
1997 Borrowed Hearts TV movie
1998 Monday After the Miracle TV movie
1999 Test of Love, TheThe Test of Love TV movie
2001 Second Honeymoon TV movie
2001 The Sons of Mistletoe TV movie
2004 Survivors Club, TheThe Survivors Club TV movie
2004 Funky Monkey
2013 The Bible Miniseries
2014 Son of God
2015 The Dovekeepers Miniseries
2015 A.D. The Bible Continues Limited series
2015 Answered Prayers TLC series
2015 Woodlawn
2016 Ben-Hur

Discography[edit]

In 1999, Downey signed with RCA Victor Records and recorded a CD called Healing Angel, released on 14 September 1999.[11]

Year Album details Peak Sales
US New Age
1999 Healing Angel
  • Released: 14 September
  • Label: RCA
5 US sales: 42,901[43]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Association Category Work Result Ref.
1991 Helen Hayes Awards Best Actress The Playboy of the Western World Nominated [7]
1997 Emmy Awards Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series Touched by an Angel Nominated [44]
1998 Touched by an Angel Nominated [44]
1998 Gemini Awards Best TV Movie or Mini-Series Borrowed Hearts (shared w/co-stars) Nominated
1998 Golden Globe Awards Best Performance by an Actress in a TV-Series – Drama Touched By an Angel Nominated [45]
1999 Touched by an Angel Nominated [45]
1999 TV Guide Awards Favorite Actress in a Drama Touched by an Angel Won [46]
2013 Emmy Awards Outstanding Miniseries or Movie The Bible (as producer) Nominated [47][48]
2016 IFTA Irish Diaspora Award Won

Publications[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Variety's Most Influential People of 2013". variety.com. Retrieved 21 September 2015. 
  2. ^ "The Hollywood Reporter's 2014 Women in Entertainment Power 100". hollywoodreporter.com. 4 December 2014. Retrieved 21 September 2015. 
  3. ^ "Variety's Women's Impact List 2013". Variety. Retrieved 21 September 2015. 
  4. ^ a b c d e Tracey, Olivia. An angel with her feet firmly on the ground, Irish Independent, 7 January 2001.
  5. ^ "Roma Downey profile". Filmreference.com. Retrieved 11 August 2016. 
  6. ^ "Abbey Theater, at the Kennedy, does 'Playboy' as it should be done". Baltimore Sun. 19 September 1990. Retrieved 20 September 2015. 
  7. ^ a b "HHA Nominees & Recipients". theatrewashington.org. Retrieved 20 September 2015. 
  8. ^ a b "Roma Downey". hallmarkmoviesandmysteries.com. Retrieved 20 September 2015. 
  9. ^ "Awards for "A Woman Named Jackie" (1991)]". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 11 August 2016. 
  10. ^ "Ability Magazine: Interview with Roma Downey - by Chet Cooper". Retrieved 11 August 2016. 
  11. ^ a b "Roma Downey: No voice of an angel". cnn. 15 October 1999. Retrieved 20 September 2015. 
  12. ^ "Love Is a Family". Amazon. Retrieved 20 September 2015. 
  13. ^ "Roma Downey Monologue". Saturday Night. Yahoo.com. Retrieved 21 September 2015. 
  14. ^ "Roma Downey works miracles with Operation Smile". USA Today. 4 November 2003. Retrieved 20 September 2015. 
  15. ^ "Producer, author, actor Roma Downey's life has been more than touched by an angel". beliefnet.com. Retrieved 20 September 2015. 
  16. ^ [1] Archived 26 April 2011 at the Wayback Machine.
  17. ^ "Reality TV producer Mark Burnett tackles the Bible," New York Times, 24 May 2011.
  18. ^ "Producers had big plans for 'The Bible' at its genesis", USA Today, 27 March 2013.
  19. ^ Ellerton, Julie & Knowles Adkisson. Roma Downey reflects on ‘The Bible’, The Malibu Times, 27 March 2013.
  20. ^ "About The Bible". Outreach.com. Retrieved 11 August 2016. 
  21. ^ Somers, Meredith (27 May 2014). "What would Jesus think? Smash-hit scripture-based quiz show doles out cash prizes". Washington Times. Retrieved 11 August 2016. 
  22. ^ a b c Press Release. Roma Downey And Mark Burnett's #1 New Cable Series THE BIBLE Is Also A New York Times Best Seller, Dominating Amazon And Is #1 On iTunes And #1 On Twitter, 25 March 2013.
  23. ^ Daly, Sean (23 April 2013). "From TV to silver screen: 'Bible' movie in the works". nypost.com. Retrieved 11 August 2016. 
  24. ^ Elber, Lynn (24 May 2011). "'The Bible': History Channel, Mark Burnett Creating CGI 10-Hour Miniseries". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 28 August 2011. 
  25. ^ Lloyd, Matt. "The Bible Series History Channel Reaches Nearly 70 Million in 3 Weeks", BREATHEcast News, 21 March 2013.
  26. ^ a b "'The Bible' Sequel From Mark Burnett Bought By NBC". Deadline.com. 1 July 2013. Retrieved 11 August 2016. 
  27. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (17 December 2013). "NBC Sets 'The Bible' Sequel 'A.D.' For Spring 2015 Premiere". Deadline.com. Retrieved 11 August 2016. 
  28. ^ "Roma Downey has lofty goals with 'Little Angels'". Usatoday.com. 15 February 2012. Retrieved 11 August 2016. 
  29. ^ "CeeLo Green - Mary Did You Know (The Bible)". YouTube. 11 December 2012. Retrieved 11 August 2016. 
  30. ^ Goldberg, Lesley. "CBS Orders Mark Burnett Mini 'The Dovekeepers' for 2015". The Hollywood Reporter. 
  31. ^ "MGM Buys 55% Of Roma Downey And Mark Burnett's Empire; Relaunches United Artists". Deadline.com. Retrieved 21 September 2015. 
  32. ^ "MGM buys 55% stake in production firms of Roma Downey and Mark Burnett". Los Angeles Times. 23 September 2014. 
  33. ^ Friedlander, Whitney (11 June 2015). "Roma Downey's 'Answered Prayers' Premieres in July on TLC". Variety. 
  34. ^ McNary, Dave (25 April 2014). "Mark Burnett, Roma Downey Board 'Ben-Hur' Remake". Variety. Retrieved 11 August 2016. 
  35. ^ "'Ben-Hur' Remake: 'Boardwalk Empire's Jack Huston Lands Title Role". deadline.com. Retrieved 21 September 2015. 
  36. ^ Cotliar, Sharon (27 November 2006). "Mark Burnett and Roma Downey Engaged - Mark Burnett, Roma Downey". People.com. Retrieved 11 August 2016. 
  37. ^ Wang, Cynthia (29 April 2007). "Mark Burnett, Roma Downey Marry in Malibu - Weddings, Mark Burnett, Roma Downey". People.com. Retrieved 11 August 2016. 
  38. ^ "Roma Downey". Operation Smile. Retrieved 8 June 2011. 
  39. ^ "Hollywood Stars line up to support McGuinness". candidancy. Retrieved 12 January 2012. 
  40. ^ "Roma Downey to Receive The Salvation Army's Sally Award on 1 October at L.A. Live". businesswire.com. 2 September 2015. Retrieved 21 September 2015. 
  41. ^ "Actress Roma Downey on religion, faith (2:19) - The Washington Post". The Washington Post. 
  42. ^ "Class of 2010 - Roma Downey". University of Santa Monica. 6 January 2016. Retrieved 6 January 2016. 
  43. ^ Billboard Oct 2, 1999. p. 26. 
  44. ^ a b "Roma Downey". Emmys.com. Retrieved 21 September 2015. 
  45. ^ a b "Golden Globes: 2 Nominations, Wins: 0". .goldenglobes.com. Retrieved 21 September 2015. 
  46. ^ "Roma Downey". uptv.com. Retrieved 21 September 2015. 
  47. ^ "Roma Downey at Emmy Awards Show: 'The Bible' Success Was 'Sweet, Pleasant Surprise'". Christianpost.com. September 24, 2013. Retrieved 21 September 2015. 
  48. ^ "The Bible' Miniseries Earns Emmy Nomination; Roma Downey Calls It a 'Blessing'". christianpost.com. Retrieved 21 September 2015. 

External links[edit]