Roma first to get IFTA diaspora award

Roma Downey '''� Sara De Boer / Retna Ltd.
Roma Downey '''� Sara De Boer / Retna Ltd.

Derry born actress Roma Downey will be the first ever person to receive a prestigious new award from the Irish Film and Television Academy (IFTA).

Downey will be presented with the Irish Diaspora Award next month at special awards ceremony in Dublin.

As the University of Ulster moves to Derry~Londonderry for the Magee graduations - Roma Downey, actress and film producer, will receive the honorary degree of Doctor of Fine Art (DFA) for her outstanding contribution to acting and philanthropy. Roma is pictured here with her daughter Reilly. (Photo: Nigel McDowell/University of Ulster)

As the University of Ulster moves to Derry~Londonderry for the Magee graduations - Roma Downey, actress and film producer, will receive the honorary degree of Doctor of Fine Art (DFA) for her outstanding contribution to acting and philanthropy. Roma is pictured here with her daughter Reilly. (Photo: Nigel McDowell/University of Ulster)

Organisers say the accolade recognises her “extraordinary achievements and vision” as both a producer and an actress alongside her charity and humanitarian work worldwide.

Commenting from her home in Malibu, the ‘Touched by an Angel’ star attributed her success to the character traits she developed growing up in Derry.

She said: “I am so grateful to IFTA and the Irish Government for honoring me with the inaugural Irish Diaspora Award. While I’m blessed to have had a successful career in the United States, that success has been built on all that I learned growing up in Derry: Integrity, character, tenacity, the value of working hard, daring to dream big, and of course to always have a sense of humour and not take myself too seriously! I just love Ireland and the Irish people and I am so thankful to come back and celebrate in Dublin, which makes it even more special and fun.”

Jimmy Deenihan, Ireland’s first ever Minister for Diaspora Affairs, said: “Roma Downey wholly embodies the Irish spirit, an indomitable and enduring force as both an actress and a producer whilst also maintaining a generosity of spirit that has made her a magnificent ambassador for Ireland. For all she has achieved and for always staying true to her Irish heritage, we cannot think of a more worthy recipient for this Award than Ms. Downey.”

Áine Moriarty, CEO Irish Film & Television Academy added: “What an inspiring Irish woman, and what a powerhouse within the Irish Diaspora. Roma Downey’s journey from Derry to Hollywood is the stuff of dreams but also of genuine talent and hard work. Her achievements in film and TV are matched only by her compassion and interest in helping others. The Irish Academy is proud to acknowledge her extraordinary contribution.”

To celebrate the Irish Diaspora Award, Roma Downey will be joined at the IFTA ceremony on April 9 by friends and colleagues from the world of film and drama. The IFTA Ceremony will take place at the Round Room of the Mansion House, Dublin.

Roma Downey was recently named on the Sunday Independent’s Irish ‘Rich List’ where she was listed as having amassed a fortune of over 300 million euro together with her husband, producer, Mark Burnett.