Although to daytime junkies she will be forever known as fiery fashion model Drucilla Winters, Rowell survived a difficult childhood to become a successful actress, activist and author. Raised in foster care practically since birth, she managed to thrive under trying circumstances. She particularly excelled in ballet, winning scholarships to the School of American Ballet and the American Ballet Theater as a teen before going on to dance professionally. In the 1980s, she segued into modeling, appearing on runways and in catalogs before launching her acting career with a recurring role on The Cosby Show
. After a brief stint on As the World Turns
, Rowell won her signature Y&R
part and became an immediate fan favorite with her tempestuous romantic life and feisty attitude. Aside from a few brief hiatuses, Rowell stayed with the soap for 17 years, earning three Daytime Emmy nods and 11 NAACP Image Awards, while many of her own real-life experiences — foster care, dancing, modeling — were incorporated into her character's story lines. She also found time to pursue outside projects, including an eight-season stint on the prime-time mystery Diagnosis Murder
as a medical examiner and a handful of feature-film roles, including her winning turn as Eddie Murphy's politically minded love interest in The Distinguished Gentleman
and a part in 2006's Home of the Brave
. As an author, Rowell penned an episode of Diagnosis Murder
and a moving 2007 memoir titled The Women Who Raised Me
about her foster-care experiences. Due to her upbringing, she founded the Rowell Foster Children's Positive Plan, an organization dedicated to providing arts and sports opportunities for children in the foster-care system.Victoria Rowell Fast Facts:
- Was enrolled in ballet school at age 8 by her foster mother.
- Received a full scholarship to the American Ballet School in New York.
- Danced professionally with numerous ballet companies, including the American Ballet Theater II, Ballet Hispanico of New York, Contemporary Ballet, Twyla Tharp Workshop and the Julliard School of Music Dance Extension Program with Anthony Tudor.
- Began acting while pursuing a modeling career and landed a recurring role on The Cosby Show.
- Originated the character Drucilla on The Young and the Restless in 1990 and won several NAACP Image Awards and three Daytime Emmy nominations for her portrayal.
- Worked simultaneously on The Young and the Restless and Diagnosis Murder.
- Authored a memoir in 2007 titled The Women Who Raised Me as a tribute to the women who helped her through foster care.
- Her real-life son, Jasper Armstrong Marsalis, played her child on Diagnosis Murder.
- Founded the Rowell Foster Children's Positive Plan, an organization dedicated to providing foster children opportunities in the arts and sports.
- Victoria Rowell Relationships:
- Wynton Marsalis - Ex-significant Other
- Lori - Sister
- Jasper Armstrong Marsalis - Son
- Sheree - Sister
- Dorothy Mabel Collins Rowell - Mother
- Maya Fahey - Daughter
- Tom Fahey - Ex-husband
- Radcliffe Bailey - Husband (separated)
- Cambridge School of Ballet, Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States; American Ballet Theatre School, New York, New York, United States