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Breakfast With

Roma Downey

Monday, November 10, 2003

Her career seems to be divinely influenced. Roma Downey, the Irish actor who played a working angel on "Touched by an Angel," is the new host of PAX Television's "It's a Miracle," which airs at 10 p.m. Sundays and 11 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. Downey lives in Malibu with her 7-year-old daughter, Reilly, two fish, a chinchilla and a cockatiel.

Q Even though you've done a lot of non-angelic work, are you feeling typecast?

A Not at all. I'm delighted to be back in the business of offering hope and reminding people that miracles happen. Deliberately, every year during "Touched by an Angel," I went off on my hiatus and starred in a TV movie which gave me a chance to hang up my wings for the summer and take on a dramatic role.

Q. So, do you believe in miracles?

A.Of course I do (laughing). I've been fantastically blessed in my life, having grown up in the war-torn streets of Northern Ireland. And having made it to this great country, and all the wonderful things that have happened to me over the years. I've had more than my share of miracles.

Q. How did being raised in Northern Ireland color your idea of religion?

A.Oh well, my goodness, our religion was so indoctrinated into us and it was so confused, in that it was so immersed with our politics. The very fact that I would tell you I came from Derry and I wouldn't call it Londonderry would let you know which side of the divide I came from. The fact that I came from Derry would indicate that I was a Roman Catholic. So it was very muddy waters for us. When I joined the ranks of "Touched by an Angel," obviously a very spiritual show, I felt that it was important that it remain spiritual and not become religious. Because I had grown up in an environment where, essentially, people were killing each other in the name of religion, in the name of God. But religion is man-made, and religion takes somebody's point of view.

Q. Do you think a show like "It's a Miracle" counterbalances reality TV and world events?

A.I think that it does. Well, I mean "It's a Miracle" in essence is a reality show, but unlike most of the reality shows, which to some extent are in the business of humiliating people, this one just spotlights amazing and wonderful things that have happened in people's lives. I certainty feel the world has seen enough horror, especially in the last few years. You know we've been scared, we've been intimidated, we've been attacked, and we turn our televisions on daily and are reminded of man's inhumanity to man. And listen, I think there's room for all sorts of stuff. Don't think for a minute that I think we should put our heads in the sand and pretend that all of these things are not happening. I just happen to love the voice that speaks out and offers you hope, and I'm glad to be back on television and be the one that gets to deliver that message.

Q. Vietnam, Operation Smile -- how did you get involved?

A. Ahh, real life miracles. I've become their national spokesperson. They are a volunteer group that goes into Third World countries and operates on kids with facial deformities. It's so fantastic. So much of the business of show has a self-serving aspect to it, but I found myself this summer in Vietnam with the Operation Smile team, and I could look around the room and know that every single person there wanted to help the children. There was no hidden agenda. I went there thinking I was giving back in some way because of all the wonderful things that have happened in my life, and the experience was so fantastic that the gift was mine. It was one of the most beautiful experiences of my life, right up there next to the birth of my own daughter.

Q. Is there a dark side to Roma Downy?

A. (laughing) I think everybody is made up of dark and light and all the shades in between. I believe people are inherently good, and I always try to look for the goodness in others. I try to raise the bar for myself.

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