Golden Globe and Emmy nominated Roma Downey has been chosen to receive the inaugural Irish Diaspora Award presented by the Irish Film & Television Academy (IFTA) in association with the Office of the Minister for Diaspora Affairs.

IFTA says that the Award recognises Downey’s extraordinary achievements and vision as both a Producer and an Actress alongside her charity and humanitarian work worldwide.  The Award will be presented at the IFTA Awards Ceremony on April 9thin Dublin.

Roma Downey’s career has already spanned three decades, and she has achieved enormous global success in front and behind the camera.  From A Woman Named Jackie and Touched by an Angel to developing, producing (and starring in) the epic drama series The BibleSon of God and the soon to be released Ben Hur.  She is listed on Variety’s 100 Most Powerful Women in Hollywood, among many other accolades.  A skilful and astute Producer behind the scenes, Downey has brought her ‘angel’s touch’ to a number of epic Dramas, watched by over 100 million people worldwide. This summer she will receive a star on the famed Hollywood Blvd.

Downey has also been recognized globally for her fundraising and humanitarian work including being a global ambassador for Operation Smile for over 20 years, a charity that helps people born with cleft palates, and working with the Displaced Christians in Iraq and Syria among others.   Downey has always remained true to her heritage and has been an extraordinary ambassador for Ireland, she has been a supporter of the Irish Arts Center in New York and The Playhouse in Derry

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

[quote title=”Jimmy Deenihan – Minister for Diaspora Affairs”]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.[/title]

[quote title=”Áine Moriarty – Irish Film & Television Academy, CEO”]What an inspiring Irish woman, and what a powerhouse within the Irish Diaspora.  Roma Downey’s journey from county 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.[/title]

[quote title=”Roma Downey”]I am so grateful to IFTA and the Irish Government for honouring 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.[/title]

The Irish Film & Television Academy has been working with the Minister for Diaspora Affairs at the Departments of the Taoiseach and Foreign Affairs and Trade, to recognise and honour the important role of Irish artists and business people abroad in the film and television industry.  The Award will acknowledge the important role of so many Irish people who have emigrated through the decades, and who have made an enormous contribution to societies worldwide;  An Irish man  or woman who has excelled in their field, has made their mark on the world and remained true to their heritage, supporting the Irish community and who has been an extraordinary ambassador for Ireland.

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