Former Young and the Restless star Victoria Rowell’s court case has finally come to an end. Anyone waiting to hear the major details will be sorely disappointed, though — Rowell settled for undisclosed terms with Days of Our Lives producers and Sony Pictures Television.
Rowell has long been an advocate for diversity, not only in soaps, but in television in general. She spoke about it on Oprah: Where Are They Now? in October 2016.
“Here in Hollywood, I have long championed diversity, not only for African-Americans, but for all minorities, for gender bias, etc.,” Rowell said. “I want to see hiring practice changes. I want to see the inclusion of more stories that show full breadth and depth of our stories across the board.”
The original lawsuit began two years ago with claims against Sony Pictures Television, Bell Dramatic Serial Company, Bell-Phillip Television Production Inc. and CBS Corporation. She felt there was retaliation for her beliefs in diversity in front of and behind the camera. Rowell believed they prevented her from coming back to Y&R after she left for a period and did not offer her the same opportunities to direct or write for the show like her white co-workers.
While that suit was dismissed, U.S. District Judge John Kronstadt allowed her to amend her filing and redefine her complaint about a specific role she wasn't being hired for. That’s how DOOL was drawn into the suit.
Rowell claimed she was blackballed while auditioning for a role on DOOL. Corday Productions clapped back with the argument that they were at the forefront of diverse hiring practices.
"Rather, Plaintiff — who has years of daytime drama experience and her own fan base — was not the right actress to play Melinda Trask, a minor, one-note character who appeared in only 20 episodes of DOOL," Corday's lawyers wrote in the motion.
The case was expected to begin on Monday, but the judge was informed that the parties had come to an agreement. The only terms revealed were a waiver of costs.
With such a public fight and now a private closure, it seems to weaken all of the work Rowell set out to do. Diversity is a hot topic in Hollywood and in a week when the first Bachelorette of color is cast, it’s important to keep these lines of communication going.
Rowell has not made any mention of the case on her social media profiles, so it leaves her supporters in the dark over why she chose to settle the case. Her fight was long, drawn-out and not an easy one to battle, but she remained true to her beliefs throughout the two years.
If Rowell can’t speak out about the final outcome of her case, do we lose the meaning behind her fight? Her advocacy work is important to the entertainment industry and I would hate to see a settlement be the reason her message gets lost in the shuffle.
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