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In April, 2009, I went to see Victoria Rowell at the University of
Alabama. She was giving a speech and talking about her book, "The Women Who Raised Me: A Memoir
". Ms. Rowell is an actress, having starred in both Diagnosis Murder
(1993-2001) and The Young and The Restless (1999-2000). You can see her
whole filmography at
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0005389/. She was wonderful in both roles,
but she is probably best known for her role as Drucilla Winters on Y&R.
Rowell's book is about her life. She was a foster child when she was
younger. She had many foster homes. She was taken from her mother when she
was a baby, and she was taken in by various women in the foster care system. She moved because she had
an interest in learning how to dance, and they found places for her that
would help her do that. It is an interesting book about all of the various
things she had to go through as a foster child. She inspires us all, but
particularly she tries to inspire foster children so that they know that
there is hope after being a foster child.
Ms. Rowell talked about dance and declared that "art saves lives". She is an
excellent speaker and was entertaining to hear. She first showed a
small film that talked about her book and her life, then she talked at
length. Later, she took questions from the audience.
mentioned in passing that she was asked to give a keynote address to some
mayors from major cities, in Washington, DC. She was asked as a last-minute
replacement for Steve Wonder, even though she can't sing. She was very
amused by this idea, and also very proud to be asked. Because of her speech
in DC, she said that the mayors all increased funding for the arts. She talks about how
art saved her life, and I don't doubt that's true after hearing her story.
She took ballet classes while living in Roxbury. She said that she was
taught to own her existence. She stressed that there is no shame in being a
foster kid and no shame in being poor. Her foster mother, Agatha, had already
had 10 children and grandchildren, and she had many health problems. Ms.
Rowell is one of 6 children, although she didn't grow up with her siblings.
She spoke quite frequently directly to the first few rows in the auditorium, which
were all local foster children. The children were not noisy and seemed
entranced by her speech. She told them about appreciating their foster
parents. She asked them what their part is and what they can do, as foster
children. She urged them to "own their space". She is a great example of
everything she speaks of, since she was a poor foster kid and then became a
successful dancer, model, actress, writer, and businesswoman.
She discussed moving a lot as a child because she was "chasing a dream". She
thinks that others should become foster parents and help out the foster care
system. She has a foundation that helps out foster kids and talked about
that a bit. She explained what it does. She reminisced about how difficult
it was to be "socially competitive" with other kids when she had no money.
She let us know that May is National Foster Care Awareness Month.
Ms. Rowell explained that a lot more grandparents are raising their
grandchildren, due to drug addiction. She suggested to the foster children that
they write their story down because it might help someone else later in life. She
mentioned that her foster parents' plan is 20 years old. She discussed fund
raising and suggested to the foster kids that they think ahead about getting
a job and saving money for their future.
During the Q&A section, she was asked if she would return to "The Young &
The Restless". She first told us that they are making her book into an HBO
series, and she will be executive producer. She is also working on another
book, "Secrets of a Soap Opera Diva", as well as a children's book. However,
she added that if CBS called her, she would definitely be interested
in returning. The contract would have to be negotiated, she explained. She
has other aspirations, but she admitted that she would say yes if it was
While she was answering another question, she mentioned that when she learned to dance, she
channeled her rage into the ballet bar and made her anger an anchor.
Rowell is a really dynamic and fascinating speaker. If anyone can force
someone by sheer willpower to become a foster parent, it's her. She has
amazing energy and is very positive, despite her terrible childhood.
I really identify with her because I was a foster child, as well. I was
grateful to be able to buy her book, tell her about that, and get some
pictures and am autograph. She is definitely
my hero. I hope she returns to Y&R one day because she is really missed
by her legions of fans. Either way, I know she will be busy and successful.
The opinions in these articles are those of the writer and do not
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