Rowell says she was the first African American female with a leading role on The Young and the Restless in 1990 when she brought to life the role of Drucilla Barber Winters. She says she "reluctantly left the show in 2007 after facing years of racial discrimination" that are described in the complaint. During her tenure she won eleven NAACP Image Awards and received two Daytime Emmy Award nominations.
Note: Stephanie Williams starred as Amy Lewis during the 1980s, and Tonya Lee Williams started on Y&R as Olivia around the same time as Rowell.
Starting in 2010 and continuing to date, Rowell has sought to return to the show or to its sister soap opera The Bold and the Beautiful. Her "attempts to re-join have been denied by those in charge of hiring at Sony and at Bell-Phillip Television Production Inc., with CBS's CEO allegedly pulling their strings."
Rowell claims the defendants rejected her re-employment in retaliation for Rowell's public advocacy to increase the presence of African-Americans in daytime soap operas in general and on The Young and the Restless in particular. The complaint alleges that defendants have rejected her even though African American women, who comprise a huge percentage of the viewership for The Young and the Restless and for daytime soap operas in general, have clamored for Rowell's return and rejected all of the defendants’ efforts to replace her on the show over the years.
The complaint, revealed to the media in a press release on Wednesday morning, will be discussed during a press conference Thursday, February 12 at 11 a.m. ET.
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.”