Some may call it biting the hand that feeds you, but Victoria Rowell views it as pushing open the doors of opportunity.
The actress had for years been a staple on “The Young and the Restless” – by far the most popular daytime drama among African Americans – when she took on her bosses by demanding that they hire behind-the-scenes talent that mirrors the show’s viewing audiences.
In 2011, the actress lobbied the National Urban League to her cause. The growing pressure forced the powers that be to bring trailblazing writer Susan Dansby, a four-time Emmy winner, and director Albert Alarr, onboard at “Y&R.”
“We are still marching for the first black producer,” a spirited Rowell said Tuesday at a National Black Theatre Festival news conference.
Rowell’s battle for diversity on the show has not left her unscarred. She announced on Twitter late last year that the future of her character, Dru Winters, is in limbo as a result, she claims, of rubbing CBS and Sony executives the wrong way via her activism.
“Sony TV Sr VP Steve Kent stated Friday that bringing back character Dru Winters is not the creative direction Young & Restless is going in,” she tweeted last October. “Head of Diversity at CBS Josie Thomas asks if I can find work (with) another Network? CBS helmer Leslie Moonves does not want me affiliated.”
Rowell said Tuesday that, like generations of African Americans have done before her, she has not let her separation from the network – which she had been affilated with for more than two decades – break her. “We have to suit-up, get-up and keep going,” she said.
She has done just that. Her book deal with Simon & Schuster imprint Atria Books has produced two bestsellers – “The Young and the Ruthless” and “Secrets of a Soap Opera Diva.” Though the books are fiction, Rowell’s soap star cred gives the titles a sense of authenticity.
The actress, whose big screen credits include “The Distingusihed Gentleman,” “Eve’s Bayou” and “Dumb and Dumber,” is also gearing- up to produce her very own soap opera, “The Rich and the Ruthless.” Filming is slated to start this month. In the meantime, Rowell is raising money to make the show a reality. A Kickstarter.com campaign has been launched. Rowell got a little closer to the campaign’s $50,000 goal Tuesday after she brazenly passed around a donation basket among those seated at a NBTF press conference.
“If you can buy those Procter & Gamble (the top corporate sponsor of “The Young and the Restless”) products, then you can put a dollar in that basket,” Rowell told the crowd with a grin.
Donate to the campaign by going to http://www.kickstarter.com and searching for “Victoria Rowell.”