Secrets of a soap opera diva
by Kimberly Bailey-Tureaud
Victoria Rowell, who first became a household name two decades ago in the role of feisty Drucilla Winters on the highly rated CBS daytime series “The Young and the Restless,” is hard at work on several fronts. Not only is the New York Times bestselling author of “The Women Who Raised Me” now promoting her second book, but Rowell is also the subject of a fan-based campaign to bring her character back to the soap opera on which she starred for 17 years. In an interview, the actress, advocate, mother and onetime foster child opened up to Black Image about her work as a writer, the realities of race in the television industry, and why breast cancer awareness has become her personal crusade.
My second book, “Secrets of a Soap Opera Diva,” is about a young African-American lady from Mississippi. She makes her way out to Hollywood and takes it by storm. She notices very quickly the enormous disparity in daytime drama television. I take the reader into the real politics of daytime television and how she attempts to close the gap. The book is delicious, dramatic and has a conscience. It is about triumph and perseverance.
So the book is all about the struggle of African-Americans getting into and sustaining their position in soap operas?
Yes. What is so amazing is that the book has inspired “The Young and The Restless” fans to bring me back to the series. The fans are so frustrated, and the book has propelled a campaign and petition to bring Drucilla back. The iconic cornerstone of the black family on the “The Young and The Restless” has dissipated in such a terrible way that we have been marginalized on the show. The black family used to be one of the main families. I have endorsed this petition at http://dld.bz/drucilla.
What other national leaders have endorsed this effort?
The National Urban League’s president, Mark Morial, is initiating efforts of diversification in television — not only to get me back on the show, but to make sure African-Americans are fairly represented in front and behind the camera. “The Young and the Restless” has been on television for 38 years and has never had an African-American director, writer or producer — ever. The predominant audience for “The Young and The Restless” is African-American. The numbers are in the millions.
What are your thoughts about breast cancer awareness?
You know, my primary foster mother, who I write about in my book and who (underwent) a radical mastectomy, makes the issue of breast cancer very important to me. She elected not to get reconstructive breast surgery and did not let breast cancer stop her from living her life. She lived a very full and fruitful life and shared everything she had in the arts, education and philanthropy. She was a true humanitarian. She always impressed upon me that healthcare is very, very important. As the national spokesperson for Casey Family Services — an arm of the Annie E. Casey Foundation — healthcare is a big issue.