For almost 10 years, Roma Downey shared the message of God's love as the star of "Touched by an Angel." Now, the mother of three and devoted Christian wants to introduce that same message to preschoolers through her faith-based animated DVD series "Little Angels," which hit stores shelves on Tuesday, Feb. 14.
Downey, who is the creator and executive producer of "Little Angels" series, visited the New York office of The Christian Post on Tuesday to speak about the launch of the series.
In the interview, Downey said her role as Monica on "Touched by an Angel" inspired the "Little Angels."
"I've played an angel on 'Touched by an Angel,' bringing the message of God's love. It was such a privilege for me as a person of faith to deliver the message," Downey told CP.
"And I thought, 'Wouldn't it be marvelous if we had a faith-based series for very young children?' They are such sponges at this age and there is such an opportunity here to sow seeds of faith in our little children."
"Little Angels" follows two four-year-old twins Alex and Zoe who have eight little angels watching over them from the ceiling of their nursery. When the parents aren't around, the little angels come to life to help the young tots overcome daily life challenges by drawing upon Christian principles and values found in the Bible. The series is also designed to teach children the practical life stills as well including their ABCs and 123s.
On Tuesday, the first three DVDs in the series were launched: Little Angels ABCs, Little Angels 123s and Little Angels Animals. The DVDs from Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment are now available in Walmart, Target and on Amazon.
It's not difficult to find the message of God's love in the episodes. At the beginning of every adventure, little kids watching are reminded that God loves them in catchy melody that says, "Always remember whatever, whenever, God loves you forever, forever and ever."
Downey, who has been working on the series for the past 18 months, hopes the series be a catalyst for parents to start having the faith talk with their preschooler.
"I think that 'Little Angel's provides the gateway into that conversation about faith and about the Lord and about God's love for us. Remembering that the angels are just the messengers and the message is the message of love," said Downey.
"Quite deliberately, I placed the little angels on a mural on a ceiling in the nursery so it's the first thing they see in the morning when they get up and it's the last thing they see in the evening before they go to sleep."
There are eight angels in all, each with their own distinctive personality:
• Dina the Angel of Learning
• Charmy the Angel of Harmony
• Uriel the Angel of Creativity
• Michael the Archangel (i.e. The Boss Angel)
• Ariel the Guardian Angel
• Hammy the Angel of Logic
• Gabriel the Messenger Angel
• Hayley the Angel of Animals
Downey said she was intentional in making "Little Angels" of the "highest quality," from the "nostalgic" animated feel to the compelling stories told to the tune of upbeat music . She enlisted the help of great animators and teamed with writer Phil Lollar, who wrote Focus on the Family's Bible-based children series Adventures in Odyssey.
Mothers of Preschoolers has even awarded the series a Seal of Approval.
The veteran actress and executive producer promises that she is not simply "slapping" her face to this product. To Downey, "Little Angels" is very personal. She even does the voiceover for the mother of the Alex and Zoe herself.
At the end of every episode, the twins' mother comes into the nursery to pray over them, saying:
God in heaven, my Savior dear,
Watch over my children and draw them near,
Send your little angels to be at their side,
To light and to guard,
To love and to guide.
"This was a little prayer that my parents shared with me when I was a child so it also has particular meaning that I added that little prayer in here. It also served as one of the inspiration for the series," Downey shared with CP.
In addition, her daughter Riley sings the songs on the accompany "Little Angels" CD and her oldest son plays the guitar.
And the series not only speaks to children. The series can also rekindle Christian roots in those who may no longer attend church, according to Downey.
"I've already had such response from parents but particular from grandparents who said it's such a great resource to share with their families. Maybe they have young families who have fallen away from the church and it's an opportunity to, you know, in an entertaining way to remind and re-introduce the stories of the Bible," said Downey.
Roma Downey's love and passion for the Bible is evident as her eyes light up talking about other projects she's involved in.
Downey and her husband Mark Burnett, producer of well-known shows including Survivor, Celebrity Apprentice and The Voice, will be working together on a docudrama on the history of the Bible, which will air on The History Channel in Easter 2012.
"I don't think there's been a complete docudrama that has told all of our stories from the beginning of the Bible to the end," she said. "It will be a marvelous way to bring to life - in new and exciting ways, with all the technology that is available to us - our beautiful, beloved Bible stories."
The Christian couple have also developed the Bible360 app, which allow people to interact with each as they read the Bible and will tie into clips of the Bible docudrama once the filming is done.
Downey also believes that the best way to make her faith come alive is through "loving actions."
She is the face of Operation Smile, which facial deformities including cleft lip and cleft palate. She has even brought Burnett and her children along to medical missions for the organization.
"It's been life-changing for me to be working with them. It's just a great reminder again and again that it is in giving that we receive," she said.
Drawing on the story of the girl and the starfish, Downey said each person can make a difference.
"Many people think, 'Well, I'm just one person, what difference can I make?'"
"And yet the truth is when we step up together and when you do something combined with something that I do and combined with something that everyone else does then the truth is: We can change the world and we can make a difference."
Watch Part 2 of The Christian Post's interview with Touched by an Angel star Roma Downey below:
Read below for the full transcript of The Christian Post interview with Roma Downey on February 14, 2012:
CP: Well, we're here with Roma Downey, who is launching a new faith-based series for children called" Little Angels." There are three DVDs being launched today, Little Angels ABCs, Little Angels 123s and Little Angels Animals. We have here Roma herself to tell us about this launch. Can you tell us what the message is for each of these DVDs?
Roma: I'm so thrilled to finally roll out Little Angels, the animated series for preschool children. It features eight little angels who live on the ceiling of the children's nursery. The children in this case are four-year old twins, Alex and Zoe, and when the mum and dad aren't around, the little angels fly down and they come to life and they engage with the kids to teach them practical life skills, on the one hand, ABCs, 123s but they teach them so much more than that. They share with them beloved Bible stories and support the teaching of good old-fashioned, family values. So we're teaching the children the importance of kindness and of sharing and of cooperation, of being honest.
One of our stories, for example, has the little boy Alex and he can't tie his shoelace. He wants to put on his velcro shoes - he thinks that would be so much easier. And the little angels come to life and say , "Alex, you can't just quit. If every time something got too difficult and you just quit then nothing would ever happen. Would you consider for a moment Noah in the Bible?" Little Alex scratches his head and says, "Who's Noah?"
One of our little angels is a painter and he paints a picture of the ark. It gives us this device in our animation where our children can time travel back into the Bible. They take Alex and his sister Zoe by the hand and they fly into the picture of the ark and lo and behold, they are back with Noah himself who is building the ark. Noah says to them, "If I had just quit if there was no sign of rain then nothing would have happened. And when the rain comes then I wouldn't have been able to save the animals. And anyway, I couldn't quit because God told me to do it. I had to do it. God told me."