Soap Star Victoria Rowell Sues CBS and Sony For Discrimination.

Victoria Rowell

Veteran soap opera star Victoria Rowell has filed a lawsuit against Sony, CBS, and several other related companies. In the lawsuit, Rowell claims that she was being deliberately shut out from a show she originally worked, on as retaliation for speaking out about racial discrimination on daytime television.

Rowell, who is best known for her 14-year stint as Drucilla Winters on The Young and the Restless, has also been outspoken, throughout her career, regarding the lack of diversity in soap operas. During the time, Rowell Drucilla played Winters, she helped transform the character from an illiterate drug addict to bold woman who turns her life around; the character soon became fan favorite. Rowell was nominated for 2 Daytime Emmy Awards and won 11 NAACP Image awards for the role. In 2007 Rowell left The Young and the Restless, citing racial discrimination. In 2010, she asked to be rehired on either The Young and the Restless or The Bold and the Beautiful, an affiliated program, and was denied. Her character had been killed off, and stock footage of Rowell was used in flashback scenes. Rowell believes the rejection was retaliatory.

According to Rowell’s lawyer,

“Ms. Rowell made Drucilla Winters one of the most compelling characters ever to appear on daytime television. In refusing to reemploy her, the defendants aren’t just hurting Ms. Rowell,” said Cyrus Mehri, Rowell’s D.C.-based lawyer. “They’re acting against their own economic self-interest.”

The lawsuit also cites discrimination on set, including inappropriate comments about her race, and the show’s refusal to hire a proper hairstylist who was familiar with black hair. Rowell also had the support of Representatives Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Tex.) and Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) who advocated on her behalf.

CBS refutes her claims,

“We were disappointed to learn that, after leaving the cast of “The Young and the Restless” on her own initiative, Ms. Rowell has attempted to rewrite that history through lawyers’ letters and a lawsuit that has no merit,” the network said in a statement. “We harbor no ill will toward Ms. Rowell, but we will vigorously defend this case.”

Rowell is seeking monetary compensation, including backpay, in her suit. She also set up an online petition so that fans can also support her.