It’s been roughly seven years since Victoria Rowell appeared on The Young and the Restless as Drucilla Winters, and in a recent lawsuit she insisted that the racial discrimination she experienced on set was the real reason she was forced to leave the show.
Fans of the daytime soap opera have long been asking for Rowell’s character to return to the show since the circumstances surrounding her on-screen death were sketchy and mysterious.
While a return from the dead would make quite the plot twist for the series, Rowell says racist cast members and producers are keeping her barred from the show and any other major acting gig she comes across.
She filed a lawsuit against CBS and Sony, the studios that produce the show, on Wednesday in Manhattan Federal Court.
According to the lawsuit, the 55-year-old actress claims Black actors were constantly belittled and disrespected on set.
At one point, she claims that she was forced to hire her own “capable African American hair stylist.”
The treatment she allegedly experienced while filming for the show is stunning and includes claims that she was actually spit on by one of her white co-stars Michelle Stafford.
“White actors and actresses taunted Ms. Rowell and the stylist with impunity, and told Ms. Rowell that her hair ‘smelled,’ ” the lawsuit reads.
Other allegations of racist antics include Melody Thomas Scott allegedly putting on a fake Afro and mocking Rowell while Stafford frequently referred to Rowell as a “freak.”
While Rowell has only recently filed the lawsuit, she has been speaking out about the alleged racial discrimination that happened on set for years.
Based on the experiences Rowell recalls in the lawsuit, it doesn’t seem likely that she would want to return to The Young and the Restless anyway, but she says producers have now had her blacklisted from many other major roles.
“Ms. Rowell has been blacklisted from even being considered for roles on daytime television and on any CBS programming, not because of any acting deficiencies or viewers’ desires, but because of retaliation for her advocacy for African Americans in front of and behind the cameras,” the lawsuit says.
She is seeking both back pay and front pay that will be determined at trial in addition to unspecified damages.
These are heavy accusations against one of today’s biggest networks, but a CBS spokeswoman wrote off the claims as Rowell’s poor attempt to “rewrite history.”
“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 spokeswoman said, according to the NY Daily News. “We harbor no ill will toward Ms. Rowell, but we will vigorously defend this case.”