Roma Downey (Actress) - Touched By An Angel
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Updated: 6/22/22

Name: Roma Downey

Birth Name: Roma Downey

Born: May 6, 1960 in Derry, County Londonderry, Northern Ireland, UK

Claim To Fame: Roma Downey is an actress, producer, and author best known for playing Monica, a tender-hearted angel supervised by Tess (played by Della Reese), on the CBS television series Touched by an Angel, for which she earned multiple Emmy and Golden Globe Best Actress nominations.

Family Life: In 1987, Downey married actor Leland Orser, in a Roman Catholic ceremony in Rome, Italy. They later divorced in 1989. In 1995, she married director David Anspaugh. Their daughter Reilly Anspaugh was born in 1996. The couple divorced in 1998. In 2007, Downey married television producer Mark Burnett.

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Info: Roma is named after her two grandmothers, Ro from Rose and Ma from Mary, joined to make Roma.

Her mother, Maureen O'Reilly Downey, a housewife with an interest in the performing arts; died from a heart attack at age 48. Her father, Patrick Downey, was a school teacher by training but worked as a mortgage broker.

Downey was raised a Roman Catholic.

She attended Thornhill College, a Catholic girls school.

Planned to be a painter and earned a Bachelor of Arts at Brighton College of Art.

Studied BA (Hons) Expressive Arts at Brighton Polytechnic (which later became Brighton University).

She took a job as a coat checker at an Upper West Side restaurant before getting cast in Broadway shows.

Mark Burnett proposed to Roma during a trip to Mexico on December 2, 2006.

Married Mark Burnett on April 28, 2007 at their home in Malibu. The ceremony was officiated by Della Reese.

Spokesperson for the volunteer group "Operation Smile".

In 2009, Downey and Burnett delivered the keynote address and accepted honorary doctorate degrees 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.

She received the Sally Award by The Salvation Army for her contribution to entertainment and helping those in need.

In 2021, Downey received the Lifetime Achievement Award for the International Christian Film & Music Festival and was named an Officer of the Order of the British Empire for services to the Arts, Drama and to the Community in Northern Ireland.

Downey also has a Doctor of Fine Art (DFA) honorary degree from the University of Ulster for her outstanding contribution to acting and philanthropy, and she and Burnett received honorary Doctor of Letters degrees from Nyack College in 2014.

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Trivia: She joined the Abbey Players, based at the Abbey Theatre in Dublin, and toured the United States in a production of The Playboy of the Western World.

In 1991, the production led to a nomination for the Helen Hayes Best Actress Award.

After the tour she moved to New York City after an agent suggested she had potential for success there.

In 1992, Downey played the role of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis in the American television miniseries A Woman Named Jackie, which won the Emmy Award for Outstanding Miniseries.

Downey's most famous role was as the angel Monica, on the CBS series Touched by an Angel, opposite singer-actress, Della Reese, and John Dye which ran from 1994 to 2003.

She received one nomination and one win at the TV Guide awards for favorite actress and also received two Emmy Award nominations and two Golden Globe nominations.

Downey also spoken of her deep and lasting love for and friendship with Della Reese. The two remained close until Reese's death on 19 November 2017. She commented that Reese was "such an influence on my life. She was my mother. I was a girl without a mother and for certain God brought her into my life. She was one of the lasting gifts of Touched by an Angel."

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 also co-authored a book with her husband "A Story of God and All of Us".

Chosen by People magazine as one of the 50 Most Beautiful People in the World (1997).

Hosted 'It's a Miracle' (TV series), on the Pax Network.

In 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.

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.

The Bible has been watched by over 100 million viewers in the U.S. alone and, at the time, was the number one downloaded series in iTunes and ranked on Amazon's best sellers in movies and television.

The Bible was nominated for the 2013 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Miniseries or Movie. Downey played the role of Mary, the mother of Jesus.

Received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6664 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California on August 11, 2016.

In 2018, Downey's newest book, Box of Butterflies, was released.

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Where Are They Now: Currently, Downey has completed work on the talk-show 'Whoa with Laine Lawson Craft'. No release date has been announced.


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