Y&R's Victoria Rowell suing CBS and Sony

Posted Wednesday, February 11, 2015 3:57:30 PM
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Y&R's Victoria Rowell suing CBS and Sony

Former Y&R star Victoria Rowell is taking CBS and Sony Pictures Television to court with the claim that they refused to rehire her due to her outspoken nature on the subject of diversity.

Soap actress Victoria Rowell (ex-Drucilla Winters, The Young and the Restless) has been none-too-shy about her displeasure with CBS and Sony for their lack of diversity behind and in front of the cameras, and the actress is now taking her complaints to another level. She is filing a formal complaint in federal court against CBS, Sony Pictures Television, and other entities with the claim that she was denied re-employment on Y&R because of her comments regarding the aforementioned companies' lack of diversity.

Rowell quickly became a fan favorite in the role of Drucilla Winters, which she originated in 1990, but reportedly left the show in 2007 following years of alleged racial discrimination, which Daytime Confidential says are described in the complaint. She claims to have shown interest in returning to the popular soap or its sister soap, The Bold and the Beautiful, since 2010, but her "attempts to rejoin have been denied by those in charge of hiring at Sony and Bell-Phillip Television Production Inc., with CBS's CEO allegedly pulling their strings."

Rowell claims that the defendants rejected her re-employment due to her advocacy to increase the presence of African-Americans in the daytime genre, Y&R in particular. It goes on to state that she's been rejected despite the fact that African-American women compromise a large percentage of the soap's viewership and fans have been clamoring for her return.

The complaint also alleges that Congresswoman Maxine Waters supposedly reached out to CBS head Les Moonves to help mediate a possible Rowell return to Y&R. "Mr. Moonves responded that if Ms. Waters contacted him again on behalf of Ms. Rowell, he would report her to the House Ethics Committee," Rowell's filing claimed. "It is unclear what Mr. Moonves thought was unethical about Ms. Waters advocating for a constituent, but his response certainly showed Mr. Moonves' hostility."

As far back as 2010, in an interview with Soap Central's Dan J Kroll, Rowell discussed feeling that she was targeted for her push for diversity.

    "I know that I was systematically left off of the Emmy ballot for many years, and I know that that was part of the pushback. But I'm not led by trophies -- I'm led by change," Rowell said at the time. "If you back away from something, you can't bring about effective change. You don't walk away from something. People asked me while I was on the show why I would want to stay in such an environment -- 'Why would you want to go back?' This happened the last three years, when I came back. I said, 'First of all, I love my job. I love the character, I love the fans, I love the actual work.' And in a way, it would be easier [...] for producers to just not bring back Victoria Rowell to play Drucilla because it's going to dredge up the reality of what's going on and what the past is. And that's a shame, because this should be talked out. This should be addressed. This should not be a situation where people are burying their heads in the sand. We really should be talking this out. It will totally enhance the show to diversify it, and also to massage what the reticence is about."

Rowell held a press conference in New York City regarding her lawsuit on Thursday, February 12, during which she stated: "This is a profound moment for me as an African American woman, who wishes to continue to live the American dream... I always advocated for myself and was taught to do so after 18 years in foster care, and I advocate for others and was taught to do so. So, this is not about me, this is about myself and many, many African Americans who have been denied the right to perform in front and behind the camera, specifically on Young and Restless."

Washington, DC-based law firm Mehri & Skalet, PLLC, along with New York City-based counsel Valli Kane and Vagnini LLP, and California-based law firm Hadsell Stormer & Renick LLP represent Rowell in this new case.

CBS has released the following statement: "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. We harbor no ill will toward Ms. Rowell, but we will vigorously defend this case."

What do you think about Rowell's complaints against CBS and Sony? Do you feel she has valid points? Or do you think she's fighting a losing battle, considering Y&R gives the Winters family front burner storylines? Share your thoughts in our Comments section below, on our message boards, or by submitting Feedback..

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