Roma Downey is still being touched by angels.
Nine years after the end of her popular CBS series about Monica, the heavenly emissary who learned the ropes on Earth, the former “Touched by an Angel” star continues to seek inspirational projects. She’s now generating some herself as founder of Lightworkers Media, which debuts the child-oriented, animated DVD series “Little Angels” Tuesday (Feb. 14) via Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment.
The franchise launches with three separate releases on the subjects of animals, letters and numbers. Featured on-camera in a parents’ guide as part of the extra features, Downey tells Zap2it, “I’ve not ever produced an animated series before, so I just moved forward prayerfully to bring the best people to me. This animation style is colorful and simple, and I think the music is really great.”
Preschool-age twins Alex and Zoe are the characters whose ceiling is decorated with eight Little Angels that come to life, imparting faith-infused life lessons. “The thing about this age range is that they have a short attention span,” Downey reasons. “I could have all the best intentions for a project that moms and dads and grandparents will like, and that is loving and educational and value-raising … but if it’s not entertaining and exciting, little kids won’t watch it.”
Test screenings of the DVDs, which include downloadable activity sheets, have told Downey her instincts were right. She reflects, “It’s wonderful to see children so involved and singing and clapping along. So much at that age is learned through repetition, and they’re just little sponges, aren’t they?” As for adult viewers, Downey laughingly allows of the soundtrack, “Listen to it a few times, and it’ll be stuck in your head.”
With a “Little Angels”-themed Bible and possibly related toys aimed for later this year, Downey is embarking on her next endeavor, joined by her “Survivor” and “The Voice” producer husband Mark Burnett: “The Bible,” an ambitious History Channel miniseries that will re-create many legendary stories at the sites where they originally unfolded. The spouses already have launched the Web site Bible360.com, which offers relevant videos, photos, maps and scriptures.
Both a mother and a stepmother, Downey is happy to focus on her current undertakings, though some networks have come calling for her to do another drama series. “Many of the things that came in would have required me to move again, and I’m at a time in my life when I’m not willing to do that,” she explains. “With teenage kids at home and a wonderful husband and a great family life, I was not about to take off for wherever those offers were.”
The legacy of “Touched by an Angel” stays with Derry, Northern Ireland, native Downey. “It was a very special moment in time, with a very special message,” she notes, “and it was such a privilege to be the messenger. To this day, the feedback from people whose lives were really impacted by the show proves it was an instrument of grace in some ways. I think it offered hope and a warm space that people were able to enter into with their whole families.”