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Victoria Rowell (1959)

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  Summary  

Victoria "Vicki" Lynn Rowell is an American actress and dancer. She is best known for her portrayal of ballerina-turned-model Drucilla Winters on the CBS daytime drama The Young and the Restless, and medical examiner/pathologist Dr. Amanda Bentley on the CBS drama Diagnosis: Murder. From 1993 to 2000, she appeared on both series simultaneously.

  Biography  

 Early life
Rowell was born in Portland, Maine on May 10, 1959. Her biological mother, Dorothy Rowell, was of English descent and a Mayflower descendant, and her birth father, whose surname was Wilson, was of African-American descent. Rowell knew very little about her father. Dorothy, who suffered from schizophrenia, took a taxi to a hospital to give birth to Rowell, leaving a son and two small daughters unsupervised. When she was 16 days old, Rowell, along with her two sisters, Sheree and Lori, was surrendered to child services.

While living in Maine with foster parents Agatha C. and Robert Armstead, Rowell, then eight, began ballet lessons. She became a member of Sigma Gamma Rho sorority, an African-American Greek-Lettered Sorority. After dancing with the American Ballet Theatre II and the Juilliard School of Music Dance Extension program with Antony Tudor, Rowell accepted guest artist teaching posts in New England.

 Acting career
In the 1980s, Rowell became an in-demand runway and catalog model. She began to take acting lessons and earned featured roles on television shows such as The Cosby Show. In 1990, she was cast as street urchin-turned-fashion model Drucilla Barber on the long-running soap opera The Young and the Restless. Rowell became a fan favorite and was nominated for three Daytime Emmy awards in 1996, 1997 and 1998. She won 11 NAACP Image Awards for her portrayal of Drucilla. Rowell's first run as Drucilla was from 1990 to 1998. She briefly returned in 2000, then returned on a regular basis from 2002 until early 2007.

Rowell also played Dr. Amanda Bentley on the CBS series Diagnosis: Murder, opposite Dick Van Dyke, replacing Cynthia Gibb. For much of Rowell's stint on Diagnosis: Murder, she was working on that show and on The Young and the Restless simultaneously. One episode of Diagnosis Murder centered around murder on the set of The Young and the Restless; Rowell was featured as both Amanda and Drucilla in that episode. During her time on Diagnosis, Rowell enjoyed a wonderful on- and off-screen friendship with Van Dyke, learning every case and medical terms in almost every episode. She was on the show until the series ended in 2001.

Rowell's departure from Y&R in April 2007 generated some media coverage and controversy. Rowell expressed her anger about backstage politics at the show, and in particular, how those events impacted her and prevented her from being nominated for a Daytime Emmy. Rowell also indicated that she felt the African-American presence on the show was fading. Rowell told TVGuide.com, "Even iron bends". Sony Pictures Television, which produces Y&R, ordered then-Head Writer Lynn Marie Latham to kill off Drucilla Barber Winters to prevent the character - and actress - from migrating to CBS Daytime sister show The Bold and the Beautiful, as other departing actresses such as Eileen Davidson had done. Rowell herself said a few months prior to her exit that she quit Y&R because she had asked to be allowed to write for the show and was turned down. She had previously written for Diagnosis Murder. According to Rowell, Michelle Stafford spat on her, and Melody Thomas Scott mocked her by running around pretending to be her with an afro.

Rowell was hired as a guest star to appear on Noah's Arc, a TV series about four gay black men living in Los Angeles. She appeared in Season Two as "Vonda," who is having an affair with a woman while married to her husband.

Rowell has also made appearances in several feature films, including The Distinguished Gentleman, Dumb & Dumber, Barb Wire, Eve's Bayou and Home of the Brave .

In spring 2009, Rowell signed a six-figure deal with Atria Books for a book about the world of daytime TV.
Rowell is currently on a national tour for her newest book, "Secrets Of A Soap Opera Diva", which some say is a thinly veiled look into her own life on Y&R.

She has been cast in a leading role on the CBS television pilot Peachtree Lines. The drama is an examination of political, social, and cultural issues in Atlanta. Think: The Wire meets The West Wing. Cast: Victoria Rowell, Treat Williams , Ving Rhames, James Van Der Beek, Jason Dohring, and Jena Malone.

Since her departure from Y&R, several campaigns and petitions have aroused in support of her reprisal of the role "Drucilla Winters." In November 2011, rumors spread once again of Rowell's return to Young & the Restless in February 2012. She has since denied those rumors, but is adamant about her return to the show.

 Personal life
Rowell's first marriage was to Tom Fahey in 1989. They had a daughter, Maya, and divorced the following year. Rowell had a long-term relationship with musician Wynton Marsalis; and they had a son, Jasper (Jasper played Rowell's son CJ on Diagnosis: Murder starting with season 3). In May 2008, Rowell announced her engagement to Radcliffe Bailey, an Atlanta artist, at her annual High Tea at Noon fundraiser. Victoria and Radcliffe married on June 27, 2009, in Dublin, New Hampshire.

Rowell was born Protestant and later baptized in the Catholic Church.

In 1990, Rowell founded the "Rowell Foster Children Positive Plan", which gives emotional support and financial aid to foster children, especially to those who aspire to become actors and dancers - the road Rowell took. In 2004, she was a special guest on the talk show Dr. Phil, in which she gave an emancipated foster child a chance at a job with Sony, dental care, and a scholarship from her foundation.

 Work with foster children
In May 2006, Rowell was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters by the University of Southern Maine in recognition of her work for the benefit of foster children. In 2007, Rowell published a memoir of her life that focused on her time in foster care. Entitled The Women Who Raised Me, Rowell discusses all of the foster mothers who cared for her and for her sisters. She also pays tribute to the women in a documentary film, The Mentor, that she participated in. Rowell says that she began writing the book when Y&R turned down her offer to write for the show. She began a national book tour in April 2007.

In March 2008, Victoria was the first recipient of the Gift of Adoption Celebration of Adoption Award, an award given to individuals or groups who are helping to unite children with forever families.

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Whole or part of the information contained in this card come from the Wikipedia article "Victoria Rowell", licensed under CC-BY-SA full list of contributors here.