*It’s uncommon to meet an entertainer with the boundless vision and discipline to build a truly transcendent career. Victoria Rowell is one rare example.

Victoria Rowell

Starting her career as a professional ballet dancer, Rowell shifted into modeling and acting before joining the cast of the long-running daytime soap “The Young & The Restless,” playing Drucilla Barnes. In 1993, (while still on daytime), Rowell joined the cast of the popular nighttime medical/crime drama “Diagnoses Murder,” making her one of the few actors – male or female to successfully meet such a task.

Today, Rowell has made the move to one of her first loves by writing books. Her first, “The Women Who Raised Me,” was a memoir that covered her childhood spent in the foster care system. With her latest project, “Secrets of a Soap Opera Diva,” (Simon and Schuster) Rowell weaves a whimsical tale about a fictional star of the number 1 daytime’s soap opera.

The Robertson Treatment recently caught up with the busy lady to talk about her creative force, discipline and drive.

Robertson Treatment: What inspired you to write?

As a child, my foster mother Agatha insisted we send correspondence to my biological mom, Dorothy. Additionally, I wrote my family’s newspaper and charged twenty-five cents. My foster mother was a vivid storyteller, a voracious reader, and even more passionately, a writer…she totally influenced me.

Victoria Rowell: After nearly 20 years in the business have you personally encountered any of the characters that appear in the book?

The beauty of writing a novel is that fiction is in the eye of the beholder. I had so much fun writing my first novel, “Secrets of a Soap Opera Diva”, having as you mentioned, worked on a daytime drama over a span of nearly twenty years. That said, I’ve met a lot of divas and a lot of divos to influence the stars on “The Rich and the Ruthless”, my fictitious soap opera.

RT: Some might say that you as a soap opera diva, only without the sass and attitude?

VR: The word ‘diva’ is often misconstrued with, let’s say, an unsavory connotation. However, in my other life as a ballet dancer, under the banner of some of the top pedigree of the ballet world, ‘diva’ and ‘prima’ go hand in hand and are lauded and sought-after titles. Somehow, the true meaning of the ‘prima’ and ‘diva’ have been lost in translation in pop culture today.

RT: Are you concerned about the future of daytime soaps?

VR: I’m very concerned about the future landscape of daytime drama. Soap opera has been a significant part of my career and it saddens me that we haven’t grown with the times. Hence, we are suffering now for it, including the #1 soap opera on which I starred for seventeen years, “The Young and the Restless”. In order to survive this soap opera tsunami, one must not only cut the fat but deliver to the audience that which they demand. Faux-voyeurism is over. We have reality TV and it’s not going anywhere. Solutions? Diversity in front and behind the lens, and half hour and fifteen minute online soaps.

RT: You’ve covered a lot of ground in your career, but keep finding ways to be innovative?

VR: Being an artist, in my opinion, requires me to be open to all incarnations of where my artistic path leads me. Especially when it doesn’t make sense in a practical way. I have learned in this leg of my journey that just because you’re in the desert doesn’t mean you’re lost. It simply means you’re gaining wisdom and strength – emerging fortified and ready for the next chapter.

RT: What’s next for you?

VR: Executive producing; my first book, a memoir, “The Women Who Raised Me”, was recently recognized by O Magazine and has been optioned for series by a network. The “Secrets of a Soap Opera Diva” book tour. Producing a hybrid performance lecture. Working on the sequel to “Secrets of a Soap Opera Diva”, and I’ve completed a children’s book. That should keep me busy for a while.

Gil Robertson IV

BEST BETS – TELEVISION

CNN Presents Michael Jackson – The Final Days

CNN marks the one anniversary of the pop star’s death with a Don Lemon Special Investigation that explores the entertainment icon’s final days as he prepared for his ill-fated “This Is It!” tour. Featuring in- depth interviews with friends, family and business associates, Lemon provides previously unseen insight into the pop star’s mind.  This Special Investigation leads a particularly strong summer schedule that will include special reports from Dr. Sanjay Gupta (“Dads for my Daughters”) and a follow-up on hurricane Katrina.

Grade: B+

AUTOMOTIVE SPIN

Prius IV

As the American love affair with “green technologies” continues to catch steam, Toyota is once again the leader of the pack with its Prius IV. A mid-size full size, electric hybrid car, the Prius IV boasts an outstanding 51/48 mpg, a fact that alone will certainly make it a standout ride.

Wow Factor: Again, the sky-high fuel economy of the Prius IV is enough to make it class president, however, when you factor in its great looks and fine on-the-road performance, you’ll be quick to accept that all of the fanfare is totally justified.

Ride: The Prius IV upgraded Hybrid Synergy Drive system and electric motor merges seamlessly to provide a smooth and reliable ride. Its rigid chassis and a revised electric-assist steering system also add tremendous value to improving driver confidence

Comfort: Surprisingly space-efficient and featuring interior leather seating surfaces, heated front seats, and power lumbar support, the Prius IV provides solid comfort amenities for drivers and passengers alike.

Spin Control: With its impressive technical achievements, efficiencies and reliability and a price tag that begins at $26,600 the Prius IV will be a winner with consumers from A-Z. It may not be the perfect vehicle, but it does provide an excellent example of the future of automobiles.

Grade: B

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