Roma Downey is an Emmy-nominated actress who is married to reality show super-producer Mark Burnett. Burnett was also the creator of The Apprentice and has been under pressure to release more tapes of Donald Trump on the show. However, Burnett has said that he does not have the legal power to release them.
The 56-year-old Downey is an accomplished figure in the entertainment industry in her own right and even has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Here’s a look at her life and career.
1. Downey Has 2 Emmy & Golden Globe Nominations for ‘Touched by an Angel’
Downey is a classically-trained actress who was born in Northern Ireland and trained in London. American audiences know her best for hr role as Monica on the 1994-2003 CBS series Touched by an Angel. The series earned Downey Emmy nominations in 1997 and 1998 and Golden Globe nominations in 1998 and 1999.
In an interview with Ability Magazine, Doowney explained that the role of Monica was attractive to her because it wasn’t a stereotypical female role, where she’d be a wife or girlfriend.
“Suddenly a very unusual script turned up,” she recalled. “‘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.”
The show wasn’t a major success at first, but the show ended up running for nine seasons. Although the show wasn’t nominated for Outstanding Drama Series at the Emmys, Kirk Douglas, Kathy Baker, Della Reese, Marion Ross and Patty Duke were among the guest stars who earned nominations.
2. Burnett Is Downey’s Third Husband After Leland Orser & David Anspaugh
Downey has been married three times. From 1987 to 1989, she was married to Leland Orser, who has gone on to star in Taken, Seven and Independence Day. From 1995 to 1998, she was married to director David Anspaugh (Hoosiers, Rudy). She and Anspaugh have a daughter, Reilly, who was born in 1996.
Downey married Burnett in 2007. Burnett has two sons from his previous marriage.
In an interview with NJ.com, Burnett said that the marriage has worked because he knows “Roma’s always right.” She added, “I’m the boss.”
3. Downey & Burnett Produced ‘The Bible,’ ‘Ben-Hur’ & More Through Their LightWorks Media Company
Downey and Burnett are both devout Christians and Downey was raised Roman Catholic. Two years after their marriage, they launched LightWorks Media, a production company now based at MGM where they focus on religious-themed projects.
Their biggest success was the History Channel miniseries The Bible, which aired in March 2013. Downey played Mary, the mother of Jesus, in the series. The couple also wrote a Huffington Post op-ed about the making of the daunting project. They wrote:
Part of what we hoped to accomplish with the series was to show the Bible is not simply a collection of unconnected stories which are often discussed and analyzed in snippets with chapter and verse numbers. Instead, we wanted to show how the Old Testament connects seamlessly to the New Testament. How they are one sweeping story with one grand, overriding message: God loves each one of us as if we were the only person in all the world to love.
The Bible was such a success that they edited it down to a film called Son of God. They also produced a sequel called A.D.: The Bible Continues, which aired on NBC.
Downey and Burnett told the Christian Post that their friends told them The bible was a bad idea. While the ratings were great, she said that what moved her were stories of families sitting together to watch the show.
“The stories of how God’s love for us unfolded through the ages moved them and engaged them, because faith is and was alive and well in America,” she said.
This year, the couple had a major flop though, with the remake of Ben-Hur that they co-produced. The $100 million movie made just $26.4 million in North America.
4. Burnett Has a Net Worth of $20 Million & They Live in a 7,300-Square-Foot Home in Malibu
Aside from Touched by an Angel, Downey has also been a frequent made-for-TV movie star. She famously played Jackie Kennedy in A Woman Named Jackie (1991). Her other credits include Come Dance At My Wedding (2009), Keeping Up with the Randalls (2011), The Survivors Club (2004), The Rest of Love (1999) and The Sons of Mistletoe (2001). She has also worked with the charity Operation Smile, which helps children with cleft lips or cleft palates.
In 2013, Burnett and Downey gave Entertainment Tonight a tour of their home in Malibu, which covers 7,300 square feet.
“We spend more time hanging out with each other and our kids than with anybody,” Burnett told ET‘s Nancy O’Dell.
5. Downey & Burnett Have Made Donations to Democratic Campaigns
While Burnett’s long relationship with The Apprentice star Donald Trump might lead some to think that he is a Republican, that’s not the case. Downey and Burnett have been active in Democratic circles. According to Mother Jones, they both donated to President Barack Obama’s first presidential campaign. Burnett also donated over $30,000 to the Democratic National Committee after Obama won.
Downey also supported John Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign. Last year, she also donated to Chris Matthews’ wife Kathleen Matthews’ failed congressional campaign in Maryland.
Although Downey supported Kerry, she was critical of him in March, asking the Secretary of State on Twitter to recognize the genocide of Christians by the ISIS. A few days after Downey’s tweet, Kerry acknowledged the atrocities.