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Sarah Bibel on Victoria Rowell

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Deep Soap: Rowell Cites Racism For Y&R Exit, GH’s Brenda Stirs Up Horror

by Sara Bibel

Aug 30th, 2010 | 9:11 PM | Comments 18

Victoria Rowell Is At It Again

It was the soap pseudo-scandal of the weekend. Last Friday, ‘The Young & The Restless‘ stars Kristoff St. John (Neil) and Darius McCrary (Malcolm) appeared on The Foxxhole, Jamie Foxx’s raunchy satellite radio show. (A link to the audio is available here.) What would have been notable only for McCready’s sexist (IMHO) remarks about his ex-wife and women in general, took a strange turn when Victoria Rowell, ex-Dru, called in to make the same allegations she has been making in interviews about her novel Secrets of a Soap Opera Diva and on Twitter, that nearly everyone who works on the show is a racist who mistreated her because of her ethnicity.

Kudos to co-host Lewis Dix who repeatedly pointed out that Rowell quit the show. She was not fired. Rowell claimed that Y&R discriminated against her by not allowing her to write or direct for the show. She makes a good point about daytime needing more diverse writers, directors and producers. So does primetime and film. It’s an industry-wide problem.

She is right that Y&R has not done as well in this area as other shows. This is especially problematic, given the show’s popularity with African American viewers. The only African American character on the show who has had frontburner storylines since Rowell left has been Lily (Christel Khalil).

Emmy winners St. John and Bryton (Devon), have done little more than support Lily through her various travails. That needs to change, not because it’s politically correct, but because talented actors should be used to their full potential. Hopefully, the heavily telegraphed love triangle between Neil, Malcolm and newcomer Sofia (Julia Pace Mitchell) will turn out to be a good storyline.

If Y&R had welcomed other actors into the writing room or the directors booth, Rowell would be right that she was being discriminated against. The show has not. There is only one actor in all of daytime who also directs for their show — ‘The Bold & The Beautiful’s’ Susan Flannery. There are no actors who also write for their shows, though there are plenty of actors who also have writing careers. The pace of daytime does not lend itself to people wearing more than one hat, the way primetime does.

Rowell exercised an obscure clause in her contract and opted to leave the show on virtually no notice, well before her contract was up for renewal, forcing some hasty, unsatisfying rewrites and a ridiculous presumed death via a stock footage waterfall. I was still with the show at that time, and I remember everyone, including then Executive Producer/headwriter Lynn Latham being surprised by her decision. Not being on set, I have no idea what transpired between her and the rest of the cast. I think it was a tremendous loss to the show, and more should have been done to get her to reconsider her decision at the time. I would like to think that the conflicts could have been resolved.

Rowell subsequently badmouthed numerous cast members as well as the network, the studio, and the show’s producers. Now she is complaining because the show is not welcoming her back. That’s like Steven Slater, the flight attendant who publicly quit then slid down the plane’s emergency slide, expecting his job back. The only time I can think of an actor leaving a show mid-contract and being allowed to return is ‘Days of Our Lives‘ Melissa Reeves. It was clear that she left for personal reasons. The show still sued her for breach of contract. She never spoke about the situation publicly. She ultimately mended fences with the show and returned five years later.

Rowell placed St. John and McCrary in a terrible position, by ambushing them and forcing them to respond to her accusations, accusations that had nothing to do with them. If they disagreed with Rowell, they looked like they were defending racism. If they agreed with her, they were criticizing their current bosses. It was a no win situation. St. John revealed that he did go to bat for her with the show’s producers, who opted not to bring her back. This seems like a lousy way to repay him for his loyalty. I am not sure whether Rowell’s goal is to put pressure on the show to rehire her or simply to generate publicity for her books, but I cannot imagine that anyone on Y&R would be eager to bring her back when she is doing everything she can to damage the show’s reputation.

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