Victoria Rowell has such a full plate these days, a plate that would leave most people overwhelmed. But the 60-year-old actress welcomes all of the responsibility she now enjoys.
“It’s really been spectacular for a person like me who is ambitious and is a workaholic unapologetically,” she told me over the phone.
Rowell has been in the business since the ’80s and is still making major moves.
She’s doing a lot of writing and producing these days, including for her series, Jacqueline and Jilly, which is about a young woman falling into opioid addiction. She was recently a star in Lifetime movie Pride and Prejudice: Atlanta with Jackée Harry and Reginald VelJohnson, an adaptation, of course, of the Jane Austen novel.
She has a lifestyle series coming in 2020 on UMC because she’s a pretty talented self-taught designer. She’s also always raising money for kids in foster care, as Rowell was once herself a child in the system.
Her main focus these days, though, is being the star of The Rich and Ruthless on UMC. She’s also a writer, producer and director on the Emmy-nominated digital series, which recently premiered its third season and airs Thursday nights on UMC (and can be binge-watched on Amazon Prime and other streaming services). She says fans can expect a lot “calamity and claws” this time around.
“There’s more drama in Season 3,” she said. “There’s comedy, but there’s more drama this season.”
Orchestrating drama behind the scenes is something Rowell thoroughly enjoys. When asked what she loves most about getting the chance to work behind the camera, she said it’s the creative license.
“l tell the stories that I want to tell that I believe fans want to know,” she said. “Fans have always asked me, what’s it like to kiss Shemar Moore? What was it like working with Kristoff [St. John]? Where does all that wardrobe come from? People are really curious about the behind the scenes of a daytime show that shoots 64 pages a day. Anything that films 64 pages a day, it cannot go smoothly. So I just love the opportunity to really lean in to all of my experience in entertainment, but especially daytime, and tell a story I believe fans want to see.”
The opportunity to create opportunities and to reinvent her career came after she found herself pushed out at The Young and the Restless in 2007. Her character, Drucilla, was said to have fallen off a cliff and was presumed to be dead. Rowell believes Drucilla was killed off because the actress spoke out about the lack of diversity in daytime and overall racism in the entertainment industry.
She filed a lawsuit against the series and Sony Pictures Entertainment in 2015, which was settled in 2017. The experience taught her a lot, she says.
Rowell doesn’t rule out a return to the Young and the Restless, especially since there is a fan-led campaign to get Drucilla back on the show.
“I was honored to be a part of it,” she said. “I loved Kristoff. He will remain a part of my life experience. I considered him a friend and confidant. In 1991 we were able to convince CBS to shoot our honeymoon episode in Antigua. That really was huge that we got an international location shoot, which isn’t typically reserved for Black actors in daytime. It was a great time with lasting memories made.”
Rowell said she’s still reeling over the passing of her dear friend, as are millions of soap fans.
“It was tough. This isn’t an easy death to get over. Kristoff was in people’s living rooms almost daily for 26 plus years. He was a friend beyond entertainment. He helped me with my foster care fundraising work, raising funds for scholarships for foster kids to study classical and fine arts. He was a good guy.”