HOLLYWOOD — Roma Downey was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame Aug. 11 for a career that has brought her Emmy nominations as an actress and producer.
Downey’s husband, producer Mark Burnett, was among those joining her at the ceremony, along with Della Reese, her co-star on the 1994-2003 CBS drama “Touched by an Angel,” and Pastor Rick Warren.
“This is a great day, a great day for the Irish,” she said. “Twenty-five years ago I came to America from Ireland looking for the American dream. I came with my heart full of hope. The American dream meant to me freedom and opportunity, and like many immigrants before me this great country has offered the opportunity to make my dreams come true.”
She reminisced about working as a coat-check girl in a New York restaurant, receiving 25-cent tips from most customers until she met Regis Philbin, who gave her $20.
“I thought I died and went to heaven,” she said.
Later, when she was starring on “Touched by an Angel,” she appeared on Philbin’s TV show.
“And of course I told him that story and he got very nervous,” she said. “He said, ‘I hope I didn’t stiff you.’ I said, ‘No, you were very generous.’ But only in America could that happen — that one year you’re checking coats and the next minute you’re starring on television.”
Downey’s star is next to her husband’s. The ceremony came eight days before the release of the fifth film version of the epic tale of revenge “Ben-Hur,” on which Downey and Burnett were among the executive producers.
Born May 6, 1960, in Derry, Northern Ireland, Downey first became known to an American audience for her portrayal of first lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis in the 1991 NBC miniseries “A Woman Named Jackie.”
Downey received Emmy nominations in 1997 and 1998 for her role as angel Monica in “Touched by an Angel.” She also received a producing Emmy in 2013 for outstanding miniseries or movie for History’s “The Bible,” in which she also portrayed Jesus’ mother Mary, a role she repeated in the 2014 film “Son of God,” which she also produced.
Downey’s other producing credits include the miniseries “A.D. The Bible Continues” and “The Dovekeepers.” She is president of LightWorkers Media, the faith and family division of MGM.