Roma Downey Moves Into New Territory, On TV and in Life

Roma Downey, Marion Ross Hallmark Channel photo

Roma Downey returns to the tube this Saturday (7/16) with the Hallmark Channel Original Movie “Keeping Up With the Randalls” — which the former “Touched By An Angel” actress reports “has a little different dynamic for me, I have to say.  It has a lot of energy and it’s fast-paced fun.”

The romantic comedy about a city girl designer (Kayla Ewell of “Vampire Diaries”) who feels desperately out of place among her boyfriend’s (Thad Luckinbill) athletic, ultra-competitive clan on a family weekend, was shot in rugged hill country near Los Angeles.  Roma reports that there was a campout feeling about the proceedings on and off camera as they swam, played ball — even gathered around a campfire making S’mores and telling stories between camera setups.

“You know, you put any group of actors together and there’s great storytelling,” she says of the cast that also includes 82-year-old Marion Ross.  “There was a lovely camaraderie in this group.  Even putting the work aside, I really enjoyed the experience.  It was very heart-warming.  Marion was a delight, and the two young leads were very appealing and attractive and also very nice and kind.  Everybody was very kind to Marion, and I really appreciated that,” Roma adds.  “The younger wave of actors coming up, they really got her, and she was held in the esteem that she deserved.”

Roma admits she’s done her share of thinking about aging.  “I think throughout most of my forties, there was an awareness of getting older.  Particularly for an actress, when so much of your identity is tied up with what you do and how you look, the idea that is changing can bring up a lot of fear.  But I have felt that my spiritual practice has allowed me to embrace the changes.  I think it’s the resistance that makes the changes painful, and acceptance brings serenity.  That and a good jar of face cream,” she adds with a laugh.

The Derry-born actress has been galloping through new territory in life in recent years — with her four-year-old marriage to reality TV king Mark Burnett (“Survivor,” “The Apprentice,” “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader,” etc.), her and Mark’s three children moving through their teens, her attainment of a masters degree in spiritual psychology from the University of Santa Monica and more.

“I feel that at this time in my life, where I had been afraid of letting go, now I’m moving into a place of letting go of being afraid,” she says.

“If I believe, and I do, that all emotions condense down to love or fear, and that where one is, the other cannot be, I know that when fear comes up, as it does, inevitably, in all of us, love is like the answer.  Anything that moves your heart into a loving space — being with your children, your spouse, your dog, looking out on nature, giving thanks to God.  There’s a simplicity to it, you know?” she goes on.  “That’s not to say it answers all the problems, but to take a breath and be grateful — it can help shift you.”