Born in Derry, Northern Ireland, Downey first became widely known in America for her portrayal of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis in the 1991 NBC miniseries “A Woman Named Jackie.” A few years later, she became a household name during her long-running role as Monica in CBS’s award-winning “Touched by an Angel” TV series, which premiered in 1994.
Now, Downey is president of LightWorkers Media, the faith and family division of MGM. She and Burnett have produced the hit miniseries The Bible for the History Channel (in which Downey portrayed Mary, the mother of Jesus), “The Women of the Bible” for Lifetime, “The Dovekeepers” for CBS, “A.D. The Bible Continues” for NBC, “Answered Prayers for TLC, and the feature films Son of God, Little Boy and Woodlawn.
Most recently, the couple produced the epic film Ben-Hur, a reimagining of the classic blockbuster. They are also currently producing a new series for NASCAR, and Downey is developing a series based on the bestselling Baxter Family novels by Karen Kingsbury.
And for many years, Downey has been a spokesperson for “Operation Smile,” a volunteer organization which brings medical surgeries at no cost to children around the globe with facial deformities. She has traveled to third world and developing countries to make fundraising films on their behalf.
Among those attending Downey’s Walk of Fame ceremony were Hollywood Chamber President/CEO Leron Gubler, "Touched by an Angel" co-star Della Reese and pastor and author Rick Warren. “We are thrilled to honor Roma Downey. She has been a force in the business of entertainment, both as an actress and talented producer,” stated Gubler.
"Roma is a godly woman--she lives her faith," remarked Warren during the ceremony. "She stands for her faith. She is brave in spite of opposition. Mark and Roma are the noisiest believers in Hollywood."
Watch a portion of Roma Downey's Walk of Fame ceremony here:
In her acceptance speech, Downey opened with an excerpt from Matthew 5: “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden … Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father, who is in heaven.”
She expressed thankfulness for all of God’s blessings, for her family’s love and for everyone who has supported her. Addressing her “Touched by an Angel” co-star, Della Reese, she said, “Your love has meant so much to me all these years. I just hold you in my heart, and I’m so grateful to share in this day with you.”
She went on to say, “Twenty-five years ago I came to America from Ireland looking for a dream. I came with my heart full of hope. The American dream meant to me freedom and opportunity."
In a touching anecdote, Downey explained that when she first arrived in New York, she was a coat check girl in an upscale restaurant on the Upper West Side—“I could have only dreamed about affording dinner in that restaurant.”
With average tips of a quarter per coat, she was shocked when the very first celebrity she met, Regis Philbin, gave her a $20 tip. “I thought I died and went to heaven.”
Referring to the ongoing mission of LightWorkers Media, Downey said they gave the company its name because “we believe that it’s better to light a candle than to curse the darkness. We are committed at LightWorkers to create content that illuminates the darkness.”
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