EXCLUSIVE: Victoria Rowell On Why Black People Deserve Reparations, How Black Women Kept ‘Young & The Restless Number 1’ & The New Season Of “The Rich And The Ruthless”
In an exclusive interview with theJasmineBRAND.com, actress Victoria Rowell shared details on her The Young and the Restless career and the business side of soap operas. She also spoke on the importance of representation and revealed if she would ever be open to making a return to Y&R. Victoria Rowell was a key part of Y&R for over 15 years as she played the role of Drucilla Winters. Since leaving the show, Victoria Rowell has done numerous positive things within her career, including using her platform to speak on the importance of the BLM movement. During her interview with us, she said,
“God bless George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and all who have perished due to criminal behavior before us and during this lifetime.”
“Black Lives Matter has made a difference in so many people’s lives across the board. I mean corporately, people who are of color behind the desks who can pull the trigger so that we can get parity. So we can get finances. So that we can get economic inclusion.”
Rowell continued and gave her roses to BET founder Robert Johnson for helping her bring her popular soap opera, The Rich And The Ruthless, to BET+. The Rich And The Ruthless first premiered on the streaming service Allblk in 2017. The 4th season premiered on BET+ on May 13, 2021.
While speaking on Robert Johnson and her series, Rowell said,
“So I’m here to promote what [Robert] Johnson and Sheila Johnson started, which was BET. Which Viacom purchased for like $5 billion. And [Robert] gave me my first shot with this soap opera. Which, you know, to develop it, to build a brand, and now I’m proudly over at BET+ with The Rich And The Ruthless. All four seasons, yes!”
Before Rowell was working behind the camera, she was front and center on The Young and the Restless, which still airs new episodes today and initially premiered in 1973. As mentioned above, Rowell portrayed Drucilla Winters and joined the cast in 1990. Rowell revealed to us that black women were the secret to the show’s success.
“The truth of the matter was [William] Bell, who’s now deceased and is one of the co-creators of the show, he told me flat out who his secret weapon was, which were black women. Black women keep The Young And Restless at number one.”
She continued and said that even with that being true, she still campaigned for more diversity.
“What I did was campaign for was diversity because I was like ‘where are we? Where are we behind the camera? Where are the black writers, and the directors, and the producers, and the costumers, the department heads, and hair and makeup? Wow, where are we?’”
“Diversity is not a dirty word. Diversity is necessary and it is intuitive to business growth.”
Rowell also advocated for the famous soap opera to not be racially stereotypical and insensitive when creating plotlines for characters of color. The writer shared that she was able to give her own input for her character Drucilla Winters’ storyline.
“I was invited to help make recommendations to help tell the story [of Drucilla Winters].”
“I also presented a classical ballet storyline. Because I am an actual ballet dancer. So initially there was some question about [my character being] broke, supposedly illiterate, all these things. And I asked my agent, I was like ‘wait, I’m coming onto this show…why does the black girl have to be illiterate and broke and a thief?’ I said ‘we have to do something about this, so let’s have the conversation.’ So we opened up conversation with [the show’s creators] and I presented the ballet storyline.”
Even though Rowell had a hand in shaping her character’s storyline on Y&R she shared exclusively with theJasmineBrand that she was declined from directing an episode for the series.
“I asked and I was declined. So I don’t look back. That’s in my rearview mirror. All I know is that when you do and ask you may not get the result there but the ask builds a muscle to move forward. You have to remember that.”
It’s undebatable that Victoria Rowell is a true veteran when it comes to soap operas, including the business side of the industry. The actress took the time to speak on the business logistics of the industry while chatting with us.
“It is a business. Let me give you some more business… in [a] one-hour soap, you can go to ‘The Writers Guild of America West’ and you can see how much daytime soap opera writers, union writers, are making per show. You can read, you know, who’s getting $26,000 per script. You can read who’s getting $15,000 [for] a half-hour [show].”
“You can educate yourself on how much a director’s getting per soap opera. It’s a great industry, very lucrative.”
“But I didn’t see anybody black at the table. Today I’m proud to say that we have two black women in the writing realm of The Young and the Restless.”
“But we need more. We need black directors and black producers. We need a black executive producer on their own, I think, in broadcast television.”
“But of course then you have black producers like myself and black producers like Tyler Perry who are creating our own soap operas and you all are watching.”
When asked what defines a series as a soap opera Rowell answered,
“Good question, it’s fast. You gotta understand when you’re doing a soap opera and they’re trying to get 64 pages in the can it’s like ‘and then he left me…’ ‘okay, cut!’ ‘okay, can I do that again?…’ ‘Nope! Moving on!’ That is soap opera. You better know your lines [and] you better be done because we’re moving on.”
She continued and explained the business side of the industry for the actors.
“Soap opera actors get paid per episode. You have a contract [and] a guarantee. My guarantee was that they had to give me at least two shows a week.”
“But [my character] became so popular that [I] was working 4 and 5 days a week.”
“When the fans write in and love a character, you actually elevate our income because you demand to see us more.”
In addition to spelling the tea on Y&R Rowell also filled us in on how things are going for her BET+ soap opera The Rich And The Ruthless.
“I’m fulfilled [and] I love working with BET+. I’m so excited about the show and I’m writing season 5 right now.”
She continued and said that while watching fans can expect to laugh and be upset because of the hit drama series. She added,
“[The Rich And The Ruthless] is about family and running a business. Think Empire in the soap opera world.”
“The show definitely has my stamp on it. I wanted to tell a story that was super entertaining, multi-dimensional, and be relevant to today.”
Before we wrapped with Victoria Rowell she addressed what many fans have been wondering for years and shared if she’d ever return to The Young and the Restless. She said,
“I never say never. So I’ll leave it right there.”
What are your thoughts on what Victoria Rowell exclusively shared with theJasmineBrand? Tell us in the comments below.