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By Suzanne

Victoria Rowell April 2009 at the University of Alabama

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.

dark blurry picture of Ms. Rowell (circled) and her screenMs. 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.

bookmark for Victoria Rowell's bookShe 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 interesfront cover of Ms. Rowell's bookted 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 possible.

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.

back cover (click on the pic to see the larger one)Ms. 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.

photo of Ms. Rowell autographing her book at U of A.

The opinions in these articles are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of The TV MegaSite or its other volunteers.

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