Roma Downey

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Roma Downey
Born(1960-05-06) 6 May 1960 (age 54)
Derry, County Londonderry, Northern Ireland
Alma materBrighton College of Art
Drama Studio London
University of Santa Monica
OccupationActress, producer
Years active1988–present
ReligionRoman Catholicism
Spouse(s)Mark Burnett (m. 2007)
David Anspaugh (1995-1998; divorced); 1 child
Leland Orser (1987-1989; divorced)
ChildrenReilly Marie Downey Anspaugh
James and Cameron Burnett (stepchildren)
Roma Downey on Facebook
Roma Downey on Twitter
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Roma Downey
Born(1960-05-06) 6 May 1960 (age 54)
Derry, County Londonderry, Northern Ireland
Alma materBrighton College of Art
Drama Studio London
University of Santa Monica
OccupationActress, producer
Years active1988–present
ReligionRoman Catholicism
Spouse(s)Mark Burnett (m. 2007)
David Anspaugh (1995-1998; divorced); 1 child
Leland Orser (1987-1989; divorced)
ChildrenReilly Marie Downey Anspaugh
James and Cameron Burnett (stepchildren)
Roma Downey on Facebook
Roma Downey on Twitter

Roma Downey (born 6 May 1960) is an Irish actress and Emmy nominated producer from Northern Ireland. She played kind-hearted angel Monica on the American TV series Touched by an Angel. Downey received two Emmy and Golden Globe nominations for her role on the show. Downey is an ambassador for Operation Smile. An author of three books for children and producer of the children's series, Little Angels. She is currently the executive producer of the television miniseries The Bible on the History channel. She also plays the role of Mother Mary in the series. The Bible shattered sales records in its first week of home video release, selling 525,000 units to become the top-selling TV miniseries of all time.[1] Downey and her husband Mark Burnett produced the movie version of the series, Son of God, which was released on February 28, 2014, and was distributed by 20th Century Fox.[2] 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 will air in 2015 [3] According to the Belfast Telegraph, in 2013 she had a net worth of £220 million, making her one of the richest people in the Republic and Northern Ireland.[4]

Early life[edit]

Downey was born and raised in Derry, Northern Ireland,[5] in the Bogside district.[5] She attended Thornhill College. Her mother, Maureen O'Reilly Downey, a homemaker and actress, died from a heart attack at the age of 48 when Downey was 10.[5] Her father, Patrick "Paddy" Downey, was a school teacher by training but worked as a mortgage broker.[5][6] Her father died when Downey was 20.[5] Originally she planned to be a painter and earned a Bachelor of Arts at Brighton College of Art.[5] She turned her attention to acting, however, and had a classical training attending Drama Studio London, where she performed in plays by Shakespeare, Shaw and Chekhov.[5]


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

Downey played the role of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis in the 1991 U.S. TV miniseries A Woman Named Jackie which won the Emmy award for Outstanding Miniseries in 1992.[7]

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 Della Reese, which ran from 1994 to 2003.

She earned one nomination and one win at the TV Guide awards for favorite actress and also garnered 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:

It was pilot season of ‘94 and I was reading through endless junk scripts that were being sent my way. Typically the roles were to play his wife or his girlfriend — leading roles for women were few and far between. Suddenly a very unusual script turned up. "Now this is curious," I remember thinking. Because I'm a person of faith, the spiritual aspects got my attention. Also, the actress in me was delighted to read a show that had not one but two strong female roles - female angels. I was to audition for Monica and I very much liked Della Reese, who of course ended up playing Tess.[8]

Downey also produced and starred in TV movies including Borrowed Hearts and Second Honeymoon. During the run of Touched By An Angel, she recorded the spoken-word album Healing Angel and wrote the children's book Love Is A Family. 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, was one of People magazine's most beautiful people and is a spokesperson for the volunteer group "Operation Smile". 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 show's cancellation.

In 2009, she starred in the movie Come Dance at My Wedding alongside John Schneider. On July 16, 2011, She appeared with actress Marion Ross in the made for TV movie Keeping up with the Randalls, broadcast on the Hallmark Channel.[9]

Downey is the executive producer of the animated video series, Little Angels, which was released on DVD with Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment on February 14, 2012.[10]

She released a YouTube video with Cee-Lo Green, “Mary Did You Know,” that went viral with almost 3 million views.[11]

The Bible[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.[12] They began planning it in 2009 and lined up their own financing.[13] The full production cost was $22 million USD.[14] 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.[15]

As of March 25, 2013, The Bible series has been watched by over 80 million viewers during its first three installments.[16] The show has been the number one downloaded TV show in iTunes and ranked number 2 on Amazon's best sellers in movies and TV.[16] An under 2½ hour re-cut of the series meant for a theatrical release was released on February 28, 2014 in the United States, under the title Son of God.[17] The Bible was nominated for the 2013 Primetime Emmy Award, Outstanding Miniseries or Movie.

It is Downey and Burnett's first such collaboration as producers. Downey is playing the role of Mother Mary, the mother of Jesus in the later stages of his life.[16] The Bible was filmed in 2012 in Morocco.[18][19]

In December, 2013 NBC ordered "A.D." the follow up series to "The Bible." The series will cover the spread of Christianity after the death of Jesus Christ.[20]

Downey will be the Executive Producer on the remake of Ben Hur.[21] The remake is helmed by MGM and Paramount Studios. Burnett will be a producer on the project. The film will be released Feb. 26, 2016.

Personal life[edit]

She is married to television producer/entrepreneur Mark Burnett. Her only child, Reilly Marie Downey Anspaugh, is from her previous marriage to director David Anspaugh. Reilly is named after her grandmother, Maureen O'Reilly Downey.[5] On Thanksgiving Day 2006, Burnett proposed to Downey during a family vacation in Zihuatanejo, Mexico.[22] They wed on 28 April 2007 in their Malibu home.[23] 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.[24]

She supported the unsuccessful candidacy of Martin McGuinness for President of Ireland in 2011.[25]

Downey was raised as, and remains, a Roman Catholic.[26]

On April 18, 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.

Downey graduated from the University of Santa Monica with a master's degree in spiritual psychology.[27]

Music career[edit]

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


YearAlbum DetailsPeakCertifications
(sales threshold)
US New Age
1999Healing Angel
  • Released: September 14, 1999
  • Label: RCA
  • US sales: 42,901


1995Last Word, TheThe Last WordRoxy
2004Funky MonkeyMegan
2014Son of GodVirgin Mary
1988One Life to LiveLady Johanna LeightonTV series
1991100 Lives of Black Jack Savage, TheThe 100 Lives of Black Jack SavageTV movie
1991Disney Presents The 100 Lives of Black Jack SavageDanielle St. Clair7 episodes
1991Woman Named Jackie, AA Woman Named JackieJacqueline Kennedy OnassisTV miniseries
1992Getting Up and Going HomeKimberly StevensTV movie
1992DevlinEileenTV movie
1993New YearSuzanne HartmanTV movie
1994Diagnosis: MurderHeather WinslowEpisode: "Reunion with Murder"
1994Hercules and the Amazon WomenHippolytaTV movie
1994–2003Touched by an AngelMonica212 episodes
1995Child Is Missing, AA Child Is MissingSamantha HallihanTV movie
1996Promised LandMonicaEpisode: "Homecoming"
1997Borrowed HeartsKathleen RussellTV movie
1998Promised LandMonicaEpisode: "Vengeance Is Mine: Part 2"
1998Monday After the MiracleAnnie SullivanTV movie
1999Secret Life, AA Secret LifeCassie WhitmanTV movie
1999Test of Love, TheThe Test of LoveCassie WhitmanTV movie
2001Second HoneymoonMaggie WestonTV movie
2001The Sons of MistletoeHelen RadkeTV movie
2004Survivors Club, TheThe Survivors ClubJillian HayesTV movie
2004Division, TheThe DivisionReagan Gilancy3 episodes
2008At Jesus' SidePetra (voice)Video
2009Come Dance at My WeddingLaura WilliamsTV movie
2011Keeping Up With The RandallsBarbTV movie
2013The BibleMother Mary, as well as co-creator and producer10 Episodes

Awards and nominations[edit]

Helen Hayes Award

Emmy Award

Gemini Award

Golden Globe Award

TV Guide Award

"'Emmy Award"'

"'Movieguide Award"'

See also[edit]


  1. ^ THR Staff (2013-04-08). "Mark Burnett's 'The Bible' Becomes Top-Selling Miniseries on Blu-Ray and DVD". Hollywood Reporter. 
  2. ^ Variety |url= missing title (help). 
  3. ^ Goldberg, Lesley. "CBS Orders Mark Burnett Mini 'The Dovekeepers' for 2015". The Hollywood Reporter. 
  4. ^ Lindsay Fergus (2013-03-12). "Northern Ireland's richest people". Belfast Telegraph. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h Tracey, Olivia. An angel with her feet firmly on the ground, Irish Independent, January 7, 2001.
  6. ^
  7. ^ Awards for "A Woman Named Jackie" (1991), Internet Movie Database
  8. ^ "Ability Magazine: Interview with Roma Downey - by Chet Cooper’’". Retrieved 2012-04-06. 
  9. ^ Hallmark website
  10. ^ USA Today Little Angels Story
  11. ^ Mary, Did You Know w/ Cee-Lo Green
  12. ^ "Reality TV producer Mark Burnett tackles the Bible," New York Times, 24 May 2011.
  13. ^ "Producers had big plans for 'The Bible' at its genesis" USA Today, 27 March 2013.
  14. ^ Ellerton, Julie & Knowles Adkisson. Roma Downey reflects on ‘The Bible’, The Malibu Times, March 27, 2013.
  15. ^ About the Bible - Retrieved on 2013-03-04.
  16. ^ 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, March 25, 2013.
  17. ^ NY Post The Bible Theatrical release story
  18. ^ Elber, Lynn (May 24, 2011). "'The Bible': History Channel, Mark Burnett Creating CGI 10-Hour Miniseries". The Huffington Post. Retrieved August 28, 2011. 
  19. ^ Lloyd, Matt. The Bible Series History Channel Reaches Nearly 70 Million in 3 Weeks, BREATHEcast News, March 21, 2013.
  20. ^ [1]
  21. ^ [2]
  22. ^ Mark Burnett and Roma Downey Engaged - Mark Burnett, Roma Downey :
  23. ^ Mark Burnett, Roma Downey Marry in Malibu - Weddings, Mark Burnett, Roma Downey :
  24. ^ "Roma Downey". Operation Smile. Retrieved June 8, 2011. 
  25. ^ "Hollywood Stars line up to support McGuinness". candidancy. Retrieved January 12, 2012. 
  26. ^ "Actress Roma Downey on religion, faith (2:19) - The Washington Post". The Washington Post. 
  27. ^ [3][dead link]

External links[edit]