ACTRESS / AUTHOR / FOSTER CARE ADVOCATE
Born in Portland, Maine, Victoria Rowell was raised in foster care for her entire childhood. Under the auspices of the Ford Foundation, she received a full scholarship to the Cambridge School of Ballet in Massachusetts at the age of eight. As a young dancer, she flourished there and became a member of the American Ballet Theater family. In addition, she participated in an exchange program with the Julliard School of Music and Dance program.
Rowell made the transition into acting from classical dance in her late twenties. Bill Cosby was so impressed by the young actress after seeing her in an audition that he cast her as his daughter in his comedy Leonard Part VI where she made her film debut. She also had a recurring role on The Cosby Show.
ABC brought the talented young actress to Los Angeles to audition for a series. During that time she also auditioned for the daytime drama The Young and the Restless and was cast immediately. She appeared on the series for 13 years.
Over the years Rowell has amassed an impressive list of credits. Her feature films include Eve’s Bayou with Samuel L. Jackson; Distinguished Gentleman with Eddie Murphy; Dumb and Dumber with Jim Carrey; Motives with Vivica A. Fox; and One Red Rose with Hill Harper. In her feature film, Home of the Brave, Rowell portrays Samuel L. Jackson’s wife in a story about three soldiers trying to readjust to life at home after serving a lengthy tour at war in Iraq. 50 Cent portrays one of the soldiers.
She is also an accomplished MC, having hosted for the Cincinnati Ballet Gala, American Ballet Theater, Americans for the Arts Gala, United States Conference of Mayors Keynote Address, 'Why Art Saves Lives' in DC, Hillary Clinton Keynote Luncheon, Jose Mateo Dance Theater, and Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute, among many others.
On the small screen, Rowell was a series regular on Diagnosis Murder opposite Dick Van Dyke. She also guest starred on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and co-starred in the movie of the week Secret Sins of My Father, opposite Beau Bridges. She adds a recurring role to the Logo series Noah’s Arc, which follows the daily lives of four gay men in Los Angeles as they manage their complex romantic and professional relationships.
In addition, Rowell has written an award-winning book and developed a documentary dedicated to the role models in her life. Both her book,The Women Who Raised Me, and her documentary, The Mentor, talk about the important people in her life who have helped her achieve her successes. Her latest book is Secrets of a Soap Opera Diva. Most recently, she has been made an official blogger with the Huffington Post.
Rowell has been honored with 12 NAACP Image Awards. She most recently received an NAACP Image Award in 2008 for Outstanding Literary Work by a Debut Author for The Women Who Raised Me.
Rowell is often involved in numerous charities. In 1990, she founded The Rowell Foster Children’s Positive Plan (RFCPP). The mission of the organization is to give direct services in the areas of: fine arts, higher education, healthcare, financial literacy, reunification programs, cultural enrichment, and resources family support.
She actively supports Americans for the Arts, National Endowment for the Arts, American Ballet Theater, The Child Welfare League of America, NAACP, and Harvard School of Public Health. Since 1998, Rowell has been the National Spokesperson for the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s direct service arm, Casey Family Services, established by Jim Casey, founder of UPS.
In recognition for her contribution in education and support of foster children, and for her work in human rights and world peace, Rowell received the United Nations Association Award. Recently, she received an Honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters from the University of Southern Maine and an Honorary Degree from Wheelock College in Boston in recognition of her work in foster care and adoption. In addition, Rowell has been honored as a National Angel in Adoption by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute. She has participated in CBS’ annual Home for the Holidays special for the past seven years, which honors foster children.
“Growing up in foster care, I was never meant to be raised by one mother, but by many. Still, no matter how nomadic my lifestyle, the one constant in my life was my love of dance personified by my ballet shoes. The art of dance served as a wonderful disciplinarian for me for future successes to come. I learned at an early age that if I slipped on my ballet shoes, practiced diligently, and sacrificed occasionally, I would be rewarded in the end. Those same principles of hard work and sacrifice still apply today, and I continue to reap big rewards.”