×

Roma Downey and Mark Burnett Balance Love, Life and Lightworkers

Individually, Mark Burnett and Roma Downey have amassed a remarkable array of successes on television and feature films: Burnett, through his One Three Media shingle, has won eight Emmy Awards for producing such top-rated reality/competition series as “Survivor,” “The Voice,” and “Shark Tank.”

He recently began his tenure as president of MGM Television and Digital Group. Downey has earned two Emmy noms, a Golden Globe nomination and TV Guide Award for her starring role on the CBS drama “Touched by an Angel.”

But together, the couple, who married in 2007, have become a powerful producing entity for faith-based audiences with such successful television miniseries as the Emmy-nominated “The Bible” for History, “The Dovekeepers” at CBS, as well as “A.D. The Bible Continues” at NBC. On the theatrical front, their Lightworkers Media banner has released the 2014 feature “Son of God” through 20th Century Fox and on Aug. 19, MGM and Paramount will bring their new interpretation of “Ben-Hur” to theaters nationwide.

For Burnett, the core reason for their success in both arenas is a close personal bond, not in terms of their private life, but their business relationship as well.

“Roma and I are a very good team, and have lots of combined experience, but most importantly, we are in love and are best friends,” Burnett says.

As unadorned as the answer sounds, that connection has allowed them to overcome any hurdle, from location shooting in far-flung Morocco for “The Bible” and Malta for “The Dovekeepers” to choosing new projects that match their joint creative and personal visions.

“This has really helped us to be solution oriented as production challenges emerge,” Burnett says. “Roma has always said that between stimulus and response, there needs to be a space.”

These and other challenges have been also resolved through Downey’s unique combination of understanding and application in regard to bringing their projects to the screen.

“Roma played an angel for 10 years on ‘Touched by an Angel,’ but an actual fact is that the sensibility of her character, Monica, is who Roma really is.”
Mark Burnett

“Roma has her finger on the pulse of the faith and family community in the United States,” says Burnett, who describes that demographic as “greatly underserved” by the entertainment industry. “This [need] provided an opportunity to [produce] several projects over the last few years,” says Burnett.

To bring projects like “The Bible” and “Ben-Hur” to that audience has also required sensitivity and patience that Burnett says is the hallmark of Downey’s personality.

“Some of Roma’s greatest strengths are the grace that she brings to every negotiation, development and production,” he says. “Roma played an angel for 10 years on ‘Touched by an Angel,’ but an actual fact is that the sensibility of her character, Monica, is who Roma really is.”

When it comes to choosing what projects they will focus on and produce, Downey and Burnett put a lot of thought into what stories and subjects will provide the most compelling creative material for potential audiences, as well at which ideas gel best with their spiritual and religious beliefs.

“Everything we have worked on has had to have an appeal to our personal sensibilities,” says Burnett.

“Is it something we would want to watch? Do we believe it also appeals to a wide audience? Our joint projects have always remained very family friendly.”

With so many projects in various states of gestation, as well as Burnett’s slate of hit TV series and the prospective digital channel for Lightworkers, one may wonder where Burnett and Downey find the time to enjoy their marriage. That challenge of time and commitment to both sides of their lives was actually something that well-meaning peers expressed concerns to them in the early stages of their joint career.

“Lots of people were initially concerned when we decided to work together, believing it could have a negative effect on a marriage,” Burnett says. “However, it turned out to be a blessing. I am sure it’s not something every couple could or should do, but it works for us.”

More Biz

  • The dark Manhatten skyline, seen from

    StubHub Refunds $500,000 to Customers Shut Out by New York Blackout

    Saturday’s blackout in New York had an outsized effect on the city’s nightlife, with Madison Square Garden and the entire Broadway district seeing multiple shows cancelled due to the the power outage. As a result, StubHub has refunded more than $500,000 worth of tickets for cancelled events. According to a statement from the company, the StubHub [...]

  • Weapons Cache

    D.A. Files 64 Charges in Bel-Air Weapons Stockpile Case

    The L.A. County District Attorney’s office has filed 64 counts against Girard Saenz, the man who allegedly kept a stockpile of more than 1,000 weapons at a Bel-Air home linked to the Getty family. Saenz is accused of illegal possession of assault weapons, transferring handguns without a dealer license, possession of short-barreled shotguns, and possession [...]

  • 9-1-1: Angela Bassett in the series

    Fox Sees Primetime, Sports Ad Gains As TV Upfront Wraps

    Fox Corporation is the latest to benefit from stronger-than-expected trends in TV ad spending, as the company notched strong gains in advertising commitments for its next cycle of programming – its first since selling off a large chunk of its media assets to Walt Disney. Ad demand was stronger than many executives anticipated, according to [...]

  • BMI Promotes David Levin to Senior

    BMI Promotes David Levin to Senior VP of Digital Licensing

    BMI today announced that David Levin has been promoted to Senior Vice President of Licensing, effective immediately. In his newly expanded role, Levin is responsible for all of BMI’s domestic licensing and revenue generation, encompassing radio, television, digital media, cable, satellite and general licensing.  Levin, who will oversee teams in New York and Nashville, reports [...]

  • Warner Music Group Logo

    Warner Music Acquires Musical Theater Indie First Night Records

    Warner Music Group has acquired First Night Record, an independent record label for West End and Broadway musical theatre cast recordings. The company will be overseen by WMG’s Arts Music Division, led by President Kevin Gore. First Night co-founder John Craig will join the Arts Music team under a multi-year consulting agreement to identify and record musical theatre productions in [...]

  • Woodstock 50 to Hold Open House

    Woodstock 50 to Hold Open House for Local Residents Before Permit Review Tuesday

    If nothing else, the producers of Woodstock 50 are persistent. After two permit applications to hold the troubled festival at the Vernon Downs racetrack in Upstate New York were rejected by the town of Vernon codes office, the producers and venue owner Jeffrey Gural today invited the local community “to embrace the Festival’s spirit of [...]

  • ILM Star Wars The Force Awakens

    ILM to Open Latest Effects Facility in Sydney, Australia

    Sydney, Australia, is to be home to Industrial Light & Magic’s fifth production hub. The Disney-owned special effects company currently has facilities in San Francisco, Vancouver, London and Singapore. The decision to open the Sydney outpost was announced Monday local time by executive creative director and head of ILM Rob Bredow, ILM executive Luke Hetherington, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content