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Moderator: Welcome to Ladies’ Home Journal’s chat with Roma Downey. We are ready for your questions. Please feel free to jump in at any time.

Question 1: Roma, of all the numerous magazine covers that you have done, which one is your favorite?
Roma: I guess I would have to say the Christmas edition of Ladies’ Home Journal, because I have my little angel with me.

Question 2: Roma, who did you meet first, David or Della? And can you tell us a wee bit about meeting them?
Roma: I met David first, on a blind date—the first I’ve ever been on. I met Della three or four months later. We were filming at night when David proposed to me.

Question 3: Could you please tell us a little bit about Project Children?
Roma: Project Children is a wonderful organization that brings kids from Northern Ireland to host families in the states to offer them another slice of life. As far as I know, it is probably in existence in most of the major cities around the country.

Question 4: Do you believe in angels? Have you had an angel reading or talk with your guardian angels?
Roma: Yes to both. I don’t think I could have made the journey from Northern Ireland to this country if I didn’t have a whole host of angels guiding me.

Question 5: Do you feel that as a result of the series there could be an influx of bringing schools closer back to religions, or prayer, or is that one your hopes, as mine?
Roma: I think that the show has become popular because the country is changing. The show is filling a spiritual void that was in existence. I’m all for prayer in school.

Question 6: Roma, do you know what the air date for “Venice,” an upcoming episode, will be?
Roma: I’m guessing that it will be November 30, which is also the night of my movie of the week, “Borrowed Hearts.”

Question 7: Roma, what was your reaction to the nanny murder case, especially since you have a nanny for Reilly?
Roma: I was obviously deeply saddened and upset for the parents losing their child. What upset me the most was the editorials turning on the mother as if it were a crime for her to be working.

Question 8: Did you ever hear from Jackie Kennedy after you played her in “A Woman Named Jackie”? And what was it like to play her?
Roma: No, I never did hear from her. I wrote her a letter expressing to her how much I admired her. It was extremely challenging to take on that role, and exhausting. But I came away with the feeling that she was a truly remarkable woman and a true survivor.

Question 9: I wanted to say that I am a HUGE fan of both yours and the show, and I wanted to ask you, out of all the characters you have played in your movies and in your show, which one can you relate to the most?
Roma: Monica. I am learning a lot from her.

Quetison 10: How often do you visit Ireland? Are you as big a star there as here?
Roma: I am very fortunate in that I am usually able to get back at least once a year. I have gone back every year except for the summer I gave birth to Reilly. The Jackie Kennedy miniseries made me a big star over there. “Touched by an Angel” has only started to air, so they are still catching up on Monica.

Question 11: Do you speak Irish?
Roma: I learned it for three years in school, and I must confess to only being able to say things like “my name is” and “what is the time.” A more honest person would have just said no.

Question 12: Why did you choose to come to America instead of a different part of Ireland or Europe?
Roma: I came over here to be on Broadway. When the opportunity came for me to travel to New York, it was the incentive of that dream that brought me here.

Question 13: Roma, would you be interested in doing a movie about your life? Or perhaps an autobiography?
Roma: I have been asked if I was interested in writing one, I guess because Della wrote her book. But I turned it down. I’m not ready to do that. I think it’s a life half-lived at the moment. Maybe in twenty years.

Question 14: Why do you think the show has been so successful?
Roma: I think because of the spiritual nature of the show, and that people were open to this kind of programming.

Question 15: What do you like the least about the industry?
Roma: This could take all night [laughs]. My series films in Utah, and let’s just say it’s nice to get out of L.A.

Question 16: What does your family think of your success?
Roma: My family are delighted for me. I think they are somewhat amused by it all because I’m the little sis. My two older sisters came to visit me this year and giggled at all the fuss. But I think they are very proud.

Question 17: Your hair’s so gorgeous. Is it naturally curly?
Roma: It does have a bit of a wave in it. I have a wonderful hairdresser, Ken Johnson, who tends to it every day on the set. In my real life, I wear a hat every day.

Question 18: Have you ever been personally touched by an angel?
Roma: I was traveling to Europe and saw an old lady struggling with many bags and I offered to help her. She didn’t speak English. To make a long story short, I managed to get her on the plane and seated. When we got to London, my conscience insisted I go back on the plane to help her. And no one was there to meet her. I thought I was going to have to take her home with me when a man appeared. Her eyes lit up, and I was relieved she found her family. The young man came over to me at the baggage carousel and said, “Thank you. My mother thanks you. She said you are her angel.” I think the point is any of us can be an angel.

Question 19: If you couldn’t be an actress, what other profession would you be interested in?
Roma: As a young child, I wanted to work in a candy factory. I’m glad I grew out of that for no other reason than the calorie intake. I think I would like to work with kids in some way, teaching perhaps or nursing.

Question 20: Does your character on the series (Monica) affect your personality in real life?
Roma: Yes, I think playing Monica has made me a better listener. I listen a lot on the show in character, and I think that when the people, the characters that I am helping each week, really open up when someone who cares is really listening. I think so many of us listen without hearing.

Question 21: Roma, how was Kevin Sorbo to work with? Was he a good kisser?
Roma: He was great fun to work with--I have whisper this because my husband is in the kitchen. At five feet four, I was a very unlikely queen of the Amazon.

Question 22: How big of a coffee fan are you in reality?
Roma: I am a three-cup-a-morning girl.

Question 23: Roma, as you are a very, very beautiful woman, does your husband, David, ever get jealous? Is he the jealous type?
Roma: Yes, he does. But then it’s up to me to be very reassuring. Since he and I have been together, I have been playing Monica, so he doesn’t have to worry about me being the Amazon queen anywhere. He knows he is the one.

Question 24: Did you think Della Reese was right to go to the press about not getting enough money?
Roma: I think that Della felt she was backed into a corner and that was her only recourse. Della is one of my dearest, closest friends in the world, and I sincerely hope she gets what she wants.

Question 25: How much time are you able to spend with your family a week?
Roma: I am very, very lucky in that I can afford to have a full-time nanny who brings my daughter to the set every day for at least half the day. I get to spend lunch with her, which is a half hour, and I grab ten minutes here and there and then I have the weekend.

Question 26: Who would you like to work with as a guest star?
Roma: Goodness. What a great question. . . . Liam Neeson. He’s Irish, he’s a wonderful actor and he is an old pal of mine.

Question 27: Roma, I read that you were an art student before going into acting. Are you still interested in art?
Roma: Yes, I am. I don’t get the opportunity to paint as much as I would like to. My stepdaughter, Vanessa, is at the San Francisco Art Insitute. She is carrying the torch for me with painting and photography.

Question 28: Right before the show went on the air, did you have a say in the development of your character, or did Martha Williamson have all the control?
Roma: Mostly up to Martha, but she has always been open to discussion with Della and I. As the show has progressed, Monica has picked up a few of my traits. My sense of humor, love of hats.

Question 29: Roma, are you planning on bringing up Reilly as a Catholic or a Methodist?
Roma: As a Catholic.

Question 30: As Reilly gets older, would you encourage her to go into acting?
Roma: No. I wouldn’t discourage her if that is what she wanted to do. But I certainly hope she would keep her options open. I am one of the lucky ones. I know so many actors who aren’t working, and that’s the reality of the business.”

Question 31: What was your first big break?
Roma: It was Broadway. I was thrilled when I got to work off Broadway. I had a dream to be on the stage. I was working as a coat-check girl before that. The play I was in was “The Circle” and it starred Rex Harrison.

Question 32: Do you kind of think of Della as the mother you never had?
Roma: Yes. I have been searching for that mother figure my whole life. It is one of the great joys of my job to work with Della daily. She fulfills that role.

Question 33: Hi--just logged on. Roma, I’ve heard there’s a movie version of “Angela’s Ashes” in the works. Have you been approached about it?
Roma: It’s my favorite book of the year.

Question 34: How can you stand the Utah-California commute? How often do you jump back and forth? I can barely stand crosstown, much less interstate travel.
Roma: It’s not a bad commute. Since Reilly’s birth, I go back less and less. It’s only about an hour and fifteen minutes.”

Question 35: Any plans for more movies, etc. after “Borrowed Hearts”?
Roma: “Borrowed Hearts” is a movie that I filmed this summer. A romantic comedy with a holiday backdrop. It will be on November 30. I play a single working mom. Hector Elizondo plays a mysterious Mexican businessman. I was charmed by the script when I read it, and I think it will be a nice springboard into the holiday season.

Question 36: What other types of acting stuff would you like to do?
Roma: If the opportunity arises, I would love to do movies. I think I will probably do another movie for CBS next summer. We only get two months off, so it doesn’t leave me enough time to do a feature. I also hope to return to the stage at some time.

Question 37: Do you travel to shoot scenes?
Roma: We film mostly in and around the Salt Lake Valley area. The most I travel from my house is forty minutes.

Question 38: What’s the best piece of advice you’re going to give your kid?
Roma: To thine own self be true. To follow your bliss.

Question 39: I just want to say that I absolutely loved the episode with the Jewish archeologist. Did you really film that in a desert?
Roma: We filmed it in area called Heber, which is an hour and fifteen minutes up the mountain here.

Question 40: Had you ever met Princess Diana, and what advice would you give to Princes William and Harry, if any?
Roma: No, I never had the pleasure. That’s a hard one. As a child who lost a mother myself, I’d say the most important thing for them to both remember is how much she loved them and that even though she has passed on, no one really dies. They live on in the heart.

Question 41: Do you enjoy playing your role?
Roma: I do. It’s great fun. I love it because weekly I am an undercover angel and I get to play lots of different occupations and with lots of guests.

Question 42: Are their any plans to shoot in other places? Like out east? Some of us on the “Touched By an Angel” mailing list would love to come be extras, or just watch....
Roma: We have no immediate plans to travel on location anywhere.

Question 43: How old were you when you began acting?
Roma: When I graduated from drama school, I was 24 and ready to plunge into a professional world that wasn’t exactly ready to have me.

Question 44: When was your best Christmas? Why?
Roma: It was last Christmas, our first in our new home with our new baby.

Question 45: How did you like doing the Oprah show?
Roma: Meeting Oprah . . . She was fabulous. When I met her, she insisted that I had met her before. I told her we hadn’t and she insisted we had. I was thinking that I would know. I think what it was was that I had hosted the People’s Choice Awards with Don Johnson last year. She was there and I think just remembered seeing me. It was pretty funny.

Question 46: What other movie stars have you met?
Roma: Quite a few. The great thing about meeting other famous people is realizing that really they are pretty much like you and I. I met Katharine Hepburn back in my Broadway days, and she has been my hero for years. I haven’t seen her since then. Carol Burnett I met recently, and she is my favorite of late. She has the wonderful ability to light up a room when she enters.

Question 47: What is your biggest goal you would like to accomplish this season?
Roma: It would be wonderful to reach number one. Although all of us on “Touched By an Angel” are very thrilled to be a permanent resident in the top ten.

Question 48: Roma, a few seasons ago there was an episode titled “Operation Smile.” Where is this special organization located?
Roma: I believe I am correct in saying that it has branches all across the country. It is a wonderful organization of surgeons who give their time freely to help mostly children from third-world countries.

Question 49: Other than “Angel,” what is your favorite show?
Roma: I am a huge fan of “Frasier.” It’s probably my favorite sitcom.

Question 50: What are you going to give your daughter for Christmas?
Roma: She is going to get her first tricycle. We are also going through a big Sesame Street phase.

Question 51: Roma, your show has changed my life. I had a very sad childhood and was never happy with God until your show came on. I’m happy to say I have grown to love God because of you. Thank you!
Roma: It’s letters like that that really make me feel like I am part of something that goes way beyond entertainment. It’s very gratifying.

Question 52: Have you been asked to do any commercials recently?
Roma: No, I have not.

Question 53: What recent movie have you seen and liked?
Roma: “The Full Monty.” I loved that movie. To be honest, working the hours that I do and for all you moms out there, I have kind of gotten out of touch. But David and I went to see this and I thought it was great storytelling. Very poignant and very funny.”

Question 54: Do people recognize you when you walk in public?
Roma: For the most part, if I put a hat on my head and keep my mouth shut, I manage to get by as just another mom at the mall. I am much smaller than people expect, I think.

Question 55: Roma, do have any story ideas for “Touched By an Angel”?
Roma: I was horrified about the story of the young girl at the prom who killed her child. I have been haunted by that. I thought if ever a girl needed an angel, it was her that night.

Question 56: What show would you like to be a guest on?
Roma: I would love to host “Saturday Night Live.” I would really be up to getting a few angel revelation scenes.

Question 57: How has your life changed since the start of the TV program two years ago? How does it feel to have strangers know all about you and your family?
Roma: My life has completely changed as you might have imagined. Mostly for the bettter. I am grateful for all of the blessings.

Question 58: Do you want to make the jump from TV to making movies like George Clooney? What would be your dream role?
Roma: I would love to make the jump. But I am aware of the limitations of having only two months off every year. If I have a dream, it is to work with my husband and to film in Ireland. To have that happen at the same time I would be in heaven.

Question 59: Have you done much research on angels?
Roma: I didn’t really before the show. My interest has obviously grown in the last few years. Monica is very human for an angel, so I don’t really feel the need to research.

Question 60: Roma, are you planning on getting Reilly a computer when she gets a bit older?
Roma: David and I recently purchased our first computer. We have finally figured out how to turn it on. We would like to think that Reilly will teach us a thing or two.

Question 61: Roma, what is your very favorite episode of “Touched By an Angel”?
Roma: From the first season we did an episode about the homeless that still stands out for me as one of my favorites. There was one on Broadway with Carol Burnett that might even be on tonight.

Moderator: Thank you for coming to the Ladies’ Home Journal online chat with Roma Downey. It’s time for “Touched By an Angel” to begin—tune into CBS for tonight’s episode. Thanks again for coming.

 
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