The one who got away…

The one who got away  turned into two… and then two turned into three… and then three …  You get the picture.  OLTLers will most likely feel nostalgic at the sight of Renee Elise Goldsberry (ex-Evangeline Williamson).  REG’s Evangeline was one of the most unique new (female) characters in recent OLTL history, not to mention in recent soap history.   She.Had.A.BRAIN!  Not only did she have a brain, folks, she wasn’t afraid to use it!

Part of me wants to give credit to the writers for making sure that the character was as strong as she was and that they hadn’t decided to shove Evangeline into the deepest darkest corners of crazyland – where they eventually relegate  all female characters.    We were fortunate that there were no huge psychological breakdowns for this character after failed romances.  She didn’t go on drinking binges, no drug use, she didn’t lurk in shady places trying to keep a watchful eye on ‘rivals’ – in desperation to hold on to a man.  What makes all of that even bigger news for a One Life character?  She dated John ”Sanity Killer” McBain, folks!  She survived their relationship and remained healthy.  Who could forget this moment between sisters Evangeline and Layla once it was clear to Evangeline that John was going to betray her:

The sane woman’s anthem when love goes wrong!

Whatever happened, no matter the writing, Goldsberry gave Evangeline a rare sense of dignity and strength for a female character in modern daytime.   My best guess is that the writers got it – REG was a very different actress all together.  She had the elegance and comportment of a more seasoned actress. Writing that may have been translated onscreen as shrill, needy, and whining by another young actress was treated as an opportunity to turn Evangeline into her own heroine – no need for rescue.  The partnership between the writers and the actress gave OLTL fans like myself joy in watching one of the most memorable characters in daytime.  If only the powers that be had been able to convince the actress to stay.  Despite her unfortunate dalliance with John, and her flirtation with the mad-as-a-hatter Todd Manning (which I loved while he was still in the process of reforming and becoming a better person), it was Evangeline’s last relationship – with the  lovely Cristian Vega that sealed Evangeline’s fate as a winner in life, but loser at love.  Cristian walked away once he realized that there was more between Evangeline and Todd than she was able to admit, even to herself.

Rather than kill the character off when REG vacated the role, the writers decided to have the character succumb to a coma.  While it preserved their right to bring her back (and I appreciate that), it’s awful thinking that the character remains there and life in Llanview goes on without her.  I wish they’d thought to let her move on to another city, start a successful law practice and allow Layla to occasionally mention who well her sister is doing in her new life.

Sadly, I’m concerned that Layla Williamson will soon suffer the fate of her big sister.  She’ll disappear from Llanview history with barely a second thought from those who knew or loved her.  Overkill?  Do you remember Rachel Gannon?  Probably not.  She was so rarely featured before the writers decided to dump the legacy character, yet again (and yet FORD remains).  The Williamson family is relatively new.  I have little hope for the rarely seen Layla – who is now dating Cristian Vega.  While you would think that would be the perfect time for writers to wake Van up from her coma (even if they could only convince REG toreturn for a few eps to usher Van off to a new life), such is not the case with OLTL.  The writers instead have Teen Tessica Buchanan, who can’t remember her life beyond the age of 17 returning to high school as a student  (yeah right) and stalking ‘Mr. Vega’.  Where is Layla while all of this is happening?  Who the hell knows?

The more things change, the more they stay the same, One Life.  One Life fans may remember Valarie Pettiford ( Sheila Price Gannon) for delivering a  rousing rendition of ‘Dancing in the Streets’ at Megan’s funeral.  Where is she now?  Doing just fine without OLTL, thank you very much!  She was one of the co-stars of the show ‘Half and Half‘ and ocntinues performing on Broadway and has her own Cabaret act:

Van, Layla, Sheila, Rika (Sheila’s younger sister), and the few very women of color before them.  What a waste, OLTL.

As the World Turns

Smart women and the law?  They seem to go hand in hand in daytime.   OLTL’s Van Williamson and Nora Buchanan, GH’s Alexis Davis and Federal Prosecutor Claire Walsh, ATWT’s Margo Hughes and Jessica Griffin, all of whom helped make it ‘safe’ for women to be smart.  Tamara Tunie’s Jessica was a no frills – no bullshit character who wasn’t exactly shy about telling Oakdale residents where to go and how to get there… of course, she did it in the most elegant way possible.  TT’s Jessica Griffin McKeachnie  brought as much to her show as REG’s did to OLTL later.  Jessica was a beloved character  who was respected by her onscreen peers -, and then the inevitable happened.  Jessica found out where she really  fit in the grand scheme of Oakdale life.  Her ‘interracial’ romance with Duncan McKeachnie led to both heartbreaking and uplifting moments for the character.

She’d feared that her tough as nails, and somewhat conservative friend and client Lucinda Walsh would never approve of her relationship with Duncan.  Lady Lu, CEO extraordinaire would have to protect her business interests from ‘scandal’, right?  Jessica knew that the only person she and Duncan could share the news of their growing relationship with was their beloved friend and supporter, Lisa Hughes.  Lisa was a woman of the world.  She’d done something most women would never have thought of doing in her time – she’d left a husband and child and sought love elsewhere.  She’d dated and loved brothers.  She was a hellion in her youth and didn’t care who approved of her choices.  So imagine Jessica’s surprise when she learned that Lucinda was the one to give the happy couple her blessing and Lisa was the person who disapproved.

Jessica found even greater strength and a stronger voice when she grew tired of defending her love for Duncan and their desire to be together.  She remained a relatively strong character until the writers decided to SORAS’ young Bonnie into an adult woman.   Bonnie brought many changes into Jess’ life, most of them lousy, including having Jessica watch her daugther grow closeto the man she knew raped her mother, and being accidentally shot by her daughter.   When ATWT’s jumps the shark, it chums the waters, first.  Where is Jessica?  Around… somewhere… I hope.

The Young and the Restless

I’ve covered the topic of Victoria Rowell’s Drucilla Winters being absent from screen in several blog entries, most recently (HERE and HERE).  I still can’t get over what insanity leads the YnR’s PLTB refusal to bring Dru back to screen.  No matter how many times TPTB insists there’s no room for Drucilla onscreen, each new weak and snooze producing character they bring to screen in her place says otherwise.

Even worse than the above?  The talented Latina American, American Indian, Asian American, and other actresseses who ever never give the chance to appear onscreen.  It saddens me to realize that as networks are steadily shuttering soaps from the daytime schedule, Executive Producers and other execs don’t appear to be moved to change their practices before all soaps are eventually cleared from the schedule.  There has be some growth when you think of where daytime started and where it is now, but how much growth?  What will be the legacy of daytime and minority characters when all is said and done?

Bonus Clip!

The REG you’ve never seen on OLTL.  Goldsberry in RENT:

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It happens in the best of (soap) families…

First the good stuff. I don’t know why it’s never dawned on me before, but why or WHY hasn’t DAYS – which  happens to be in striking distance of the BnB in the ratings, taken advantage of the colossal blunder  made by the BnB’s sister soap, the YnR?  Why hasn’t DAYS hired Victoria Rowell as a new character?  YnR’s  PLTB (Powerless That Be) are  determined to not bring Rowell back to daytime in a role she made iconic.  Why not hire Ms. Rowell for DAYS and tie her to honest Abe Carver.  His image has been a little ‘too clean’ for a soap character.  I don’t want him to become a bad guy, or learn that he was ever a ‘bad’ man.  It might be worthwhile to find out that Abe was once a conflicted man. He was in love with a woman with a shady past and did things he’d never expected to do.   Maybe Abe demands perfection in Lexie because he’s loved a woman who’s driven him down the wrong path before and is afraid to go there again.

TPTB won’t hire her because of money?  I know, I know… but I could name a number of characters – starting with the teens, the show could “clear house”  with in order to afford bringing Rowell on board.  It just  might surprise you to know that James Scott’s Ej Dimera is not on the list!  We’ll need him around for at least a while longer.

Imagine that Brandon returns and wants his father to meet a woman he’s fallen in love with – a woman he wants to marry.  It turns out that she’s

1.  a cougar and

2 – a woman from Abe’s past.

She knew Abe when he wasn’t so sainted- chasing down crooked cops and busting drug rings!  She’s someone who knows where Abe buried the bodies  (so to speak)  and is someone against whom Abe’s defenses are weak.  His attraction to her is chemical, undeniable, and a threat to his marriage and to his standing in the community.  Let’s not mention the fact that a relationship with this woman would be toxic to the relationship Abe shares with his son, Brandon.  It took a lot for Abe to get beyond Lexie’s affair with Brandon, could Abe make the mistake of falling into bed, again, with this woman?  The woman his son loves?  Lexie has spent most of their marriage cheating on Abe and awaiting his forgiveness – now she’ll have to worry about whether Abe will be the one to next break their marriage vows and if she would be able to forgive him.  Ultimately he would remain faithful, though we would find out that he has a lot more to  lose than his marriage by having this woman present.

Not being able to destroy the Carver marriage, being dumped by Brandon – who moves on with Arianna Hernandez, VR’s character would of course form an alliance with DAYS other uber-evil villain, EJ Dimera.  Both characters are matched as  equally deadly manipulators.  EJ relies on her expertise but always makes sure she knows that their partnership is predicated on her commitment to stay away from Abe, Lexie, and Theo… but can she do it?  EJ, torn between his friendship with, love for, and growing reliance on this woman and his love for his  family.  The town of Salem would never be the same again!

Speaking of  Soap Families

Parasites come in all shapes, sizes, and genders.   The three major categories of dysfunctional soap family members  include the non-criminal philanderer, the non criminal self-pitying liar, and the criminal take-by-force loser.

The Philanderer

Every (soap) family has that one philandering dolt who makes you feel dirty just by shaking his hand – which is a bad move since you never know where that hand has been.  You just know that it’s been a lot of places you’d never go.  On the BnB?  That would be Eric “naked on the ledge” Forrester.  Eric’s treatment of women is, and always has been, rather shabby.  He’s been cheered on as a romantic hero, but he’s neither romantic, nor a hero as far as I’m concerned.  I think fans are finally beginning to see Eric as the lowly worm he truly is.  Is he only more clearly viewed as  a Lothario because he has yet to change his behaviors?  A man his age, who still can’t be faithful to a faithful wife is far from appealing.   His actions include:

1.  Declaring his love for his son’s former fiancee moments after leaving his wife of decades.  Let’s face facts, lesser men would have left Stephanie about an hour after she gave birth – after finding out that the kid she gave birth to was healthy.  It would have been hard to blame him for wanting to be a single dad rather than chain himself to a hate-filled harpy like Stephanie.   She’s not exactly ‘lovable’, except in rare occasions and for Eric that has typically meant whenever someone younger and warmer was available.  The problem is that he DID chain himself to her.  So his inability to live  up to his commitment leaves you weary.  The man comes and goes like a rock star on tour – and Stephanie Douglas is his most fervent groupie.

2.  When Brooke dumped him for Ridge, Eric moved on to psychotic Sheila Carter, and after a while on to taylor – who was dumped by the same son who left Brooke earlier, and any other half-wit who would have him.  Each time Stephanie grabbed on to his coattails and begged for crumbs… and he gave them to her.

3.  He returned to Stephanie only to end up cheating on her just before their wedding. He cheated with a woman who was like a daughter to her, Lauren Fenmore.

4.  He tried returning to Brooke.  Later returning to Stephanie when that fell through.

5.   He later married Brooke’s sister, Donna Logan, but only after cheating on Stephanie (who was in hiding after facilitating Brooke’s sexual assault).  What lousy circumstances under which Eric took Donna Logan to bed.  It was mere weeks after finding that that Donna was sleeping with his youngest son in order to use him to tear the Forrester family apart.  A heart-broken Thorne dumped Donna at the altar – Eric slept with her.

6.  After all of the above, I never grew to like Donna and Eric, but it was clear that she really did love the artful dodger.  It was Donna who fought the Forresters to keep Eric on life support when they were ready to pull the plug.  It was  Stephanie who gave Eric a knee to the groin in front of their adult children.  It was  Donna who went along with a plan to regain the company for Eric even if it meant betraying the trust of baby sister Katie… It was Stephanie who was at fault for helping the Forresters lose the company in the first place.  Eric is returning to Stephanie… a woman who tried to destroy his life’s work and tried to turn his children against him.

Whatever unfortunate thing happens to him is all he deserves and more.  By the way, it’s pretty awful when clips for your show fits the theme song to a slapstick comedy.  BRAVO to the genius backstage who put this together!  (At least you have a sense of humor about the show you’re producing):

OLTL writers must look at the BnB’s Eric with a sense of awe.  The Power(less) That Be  must love the guy, because it’s the road I see John McBain taking for as long as the show is on the air.  Loving that man is a no-win proposition for any OLTL woman.  Johnny McBain loves no woman as much as he loves the idea of living in misery… the women he ‘loves’ just end up along for the ride.

Both men should make room for the YnR’s Victor, who treats women as useless if they’re not grabbing pom poms and cheering on his self-indulgent tendencies.  They may as well be packaged in tissues boxes.  Victor uses one, and tosses her aside as he grabs the next.

All three aregoing to find themselves  riding in a crowded car if they have to make room for GH’s loathsome Sonny Corinthos and Sonny’s enormous ego.  I hope that car has a big trunk!  It will have to carry the emotionally and spiritual dead bodies of the women Sonny has loved, maltreated, discarded, disrupted, and left as empty hollow shells.

The Self-Pitying Liar

The BnB leads the way again.  Two words: taylor hayes… ok, two more: Stephanie Forrester… WAIT, two more:  Steffy Forrester (Marone) – That’s three, right?  Steffy has proven herself as taylor’s daughter, Stephanie’s granddaughter.  I’ve never seen writers utterly destroy three female characters by writing them as utterly obsessed with another character – one Brooke Logan.  I could show you a million clips of these women plotting (taylor and stephanie before steffy came along) and if you watched the show’s factual history, you would be shocked to hear them constantly whining about the ‘pain’ Brooke has cost them.  Before Stephanie facilitated the rape of Brooke Logan, she tried to convince Brooke to take her life, and even gave her the gun to do it with… oh yes, that’s right… Brooke is the threat to the Forresters.  Does Steffy has any idea how awful her mother and grandmother are?  Does she care?  She’s lied more since she became daytime’s lead self-pitying liar than any other character has in a decade!

The Take-by-Force loser

Oh come on, DAYS FANS, you knew it was coming!  The scurge that is EJ so perfectly fits this category.  I love that Will has no use for the man who violated his mother.  Sami’s oldest child so clearly understands what kind of man EJ is and wants him GONE. Good boy, Will.  It would be a HUGE mistake, for a show that’s doing so well, to try to sell the audience on the notion that Will wants to eventually become buds with the man who raped his mother and produced one child – and manipulated and violated his mother to produce another.  I know that Sami feels ‘trapped’ in some way because she’s had two children with EJ , but she really needs to let them visit with him at his place.  EJ’s presence is a constant reminder of what he’s done to young Will’s mother and I can’t believe any caring parent would let that happen.

Sorry PLTB, YOU wrote the story.  YOU have to live with it.

Given Will’s obvious (and rightful) dislike of EJ, I wonder what role he will play in this storyline. If the man who raped your mother keeps trying to insinuate himself into her life and won’t stay away… what would you do?  Hopefully Will might have some role in exposing EJ’s lies. It would give him some feeling of being able to avenge his mother’s rape and keeping his siblings safe from their vile father.

In for a Penny, in for a Pound: Diversity in Daytime

Victoria, Rowell, the ex- Drucilla Winters. This image may be subject to copyright - all rights retained by the original owner

The SON commnunity has been having  a wonderful discussion about diversity stemming from Christel Khalil’s interview.   I thought I would post some ‘final thoughts’ (HA!) about the matter:

YnR writers aren’t writing ‘color blind’ storylines, in my opinion. I would love to believe that CK’s Lily is the perfect example of  ‘post racial’ storyline telling.  It would make sense if it were true of all storylines regarding all characters.  As it stands, only Lily is the ‘integrated character’… and for what reason?  To what end?  Not in the history of daytime has any non-minority character shared screen time almost exclusively with minority characters, to the exclusion of all other non-minority characters.  That’s not ‘integration’.  That’s not ‘color blind’ storytelling.  I think it’s a travesty and it sells the audience short to think we wouldn’t notice.

Bear with me as I do something I rarely do in this blog, at least, and that’s comment on my perceptions of an actor’s talent.   I find the writers pushing CK’s Lily to the exclusion of almost all other multicultural characters especially  troubling because, in my opinion, I find CK’s performances LIFELESS!  I honest to goodness don’t know how anyone avoids holding a mirror to her face to check for breathing whenever she’s not speaking.  Her inflections feel wrong in pretty much every scene and I think her acting choices leave A LOT to be desired.  I think CK’s Lily sucks the breath out of every scene she’s in.   Any male paired with her becomes the same walking sleeping pill she is.

Kristoff St. John probably whizzes away more talent after a stiff drink than CK will ever have – pardon the coarse expression. Victoria Rowell could sleepwalk and do a better job.  Yet, neither actor is around to do a darned thing, with the exception of KSJ’s far too infrequent appearances, because the writers seem to believe that their ‘diversity standard’ is set by Lily and that the diversity the Winters family once provided is no longer needed.

The Winters as a family was beloved and embraced by fans because they were authentic in representing the spectrum of life that most families have, including African-American family-  Bless Bill Bell for knowing that and giving us:

  • Neil, straight-laced high achieving all around good guy.   He is sometimes a little too impressed with the sound of his own voice and his own magnificence, but he means well.
  • Dru, reformed from her bad girl days, criminal record, rejected child acting out.  She was a screwed up child who became an extraordinary woman.  I could EASILY cut away three or more characters from YnR to have her back… EASILY.  She was worth every one of them PLUS!
  • Olivia, another high achieving privileged first born.  Olivia was  a bit of a judgmental prig and the thought that Liv and Neil would have eventually gotten together was enough to make me shudder.  They would have been daytime’s first African-American stuporcouple.
  • Malcolm, wild child, playboy/sexgod/work in progress and still a man with a good heart.  I never knew whether to root for him to be redeemed or for him to continue on in his naughty naughty ways!
  • Mamie, loving and devoted aunt, not a lot of money or education, but she’s gives all the right things. She takes in the unwanted, unloved Dru and helps her turn her life around.  When the writers focused on her relationship with Dru and Liv, she was the middle class version of ‘Auntie Mame‘.
  • Nate, a good guy who had a rough start in life but turned everything around.    Nate had ‘rootability’ from the beginning, in my book.  He had to be Dru’s hero, and I’m glad that he was.  Each of us probably knows a RL ‘Nate’, a man who took back his life and ‘made good’.
  • I’m still wishing for ‘Little Nate’s’ return.  I wonder what he would make of his family, now.
  • And now Devon rounds out the family (not sure if he was Bill Bell’s creation or not, but I’m glad he’s on board).   College student, survivor, a little screwed up, but he completes the family.

Nate Sr. has died, Malcolm is off in the world,  and I have no idea where Mamie is (forgot).  Devon and Neil are occasionally  seen.
Everyone else? Traded in and we’re left with  LILY.
What a slap!

Regarding MarkH’s insightful question of whether Dru’s presence made  Olivia’s introduction possible?  Was Olivia more acceptable because of Dru?

Dru wasn’t the ‘default standard’, for me. I loved the way the two sisters complemented one another. I wouldn’t have wanted EITHER woman, alone. Liv, the accomplished doctor, who was still a little too ‘sorority girl’ (along with Ashley – they were so sappy sweet together, I developed cavities when they were on screen together). Then there was Dru, the street kid.

Dru was never ‘good enough’ for her mother.  Her mother never wanted to have another child after the perfect LIV and didn’t so much as notice that her daughter couldn’t read.   Liv was the heir, Dru was the spare. It’s such a classic ‘family’ story (not just “African-American” story) and it was wonderful to see these two sisters play off of one another, genuinely loving one another but being divided by the strife their mother created.

Minorities/underrepresented groups so rarely get to have the balanced portrayals that non-minority groups do that we’re caught struggling with our feelings about the few characters who are supposed to represent us.  Drucilla alone feels like a cruel joke – daytime writers once again indulging their fantasies about who black women are. Olivia alone feels somewhat like a different kind of repudiation of culture (much like Lily). Bill Bell was master enough to appreciate that and I think he really understood that in both simple and complex ways that the current YnR writers are ignorant of, or seem to be.

OLTL writers ” got it” and provided balance with the ‘good sib’ and the ‘troubled sib’. It’s how they wrote: Nate and RJ Gannon, and Cristian and Antonio (as well as Vicki and Todd, and Natalie and Jessica).

Victoria Rowell played ‘The Race Card’?

THIS article (posted at The Huffington Post)  won’t seem like it has much to do with the comments Victoria Rowell made regarding the status of African-American actors and actresses on the YnR, and daytime in general.  If you have the time, however, please read it.  If not, at least please view the video below.  While neither the article nor the video seem as if they have any connection to the comments  leveled by Ms. Rowell or at her since her departure from the genre, I urge you  to hang in there with me, and give me a minute to put it all in context.

(WARNING!!!!!!!!!!  The video below is of performers appearing in ‘black face’ as the ‘Jackson 5’ and another performer appearing in ‘white face’ as Michael Jackson):

There’s something you need to keep in mind about these performers.  They are all real life friends, and  real life physicians.  They were INVITED to come back and perform that routine,  having originally performed it some 20 years ago on the same show -when they were all medical students.  Shocking, huh?  It blows away the stereotype/the myth that only deeply evil or completely ignorant and uneducated people, all of whom are beyond reason, engage in such inappropriate behaviors.   Some acts of racism are intentional, others are not.  Some acts of racism are meant to wound, others are not.   Some actions aren’t deemed racist in the times they occur, but with reflection we can see the harm they caused.

How will we ever know the difference if we never take another person’s charge of racism seriously when it happens?  (That question also includes the other  ‘isms’ we often pretend aren’t happening:  sexism, ageism, and homophobia/orientationism).  If we never embrace and examine another person’s charge of bias when it occurs – we are doomed to repeat damning patterns of inflicting pain.  We’ll continue to expect others to live with our messes, grin and bear our ignorance, suffer in silence and just be a good ‘team player’.

As I’m reading the message boards about the  ‘conflict’ between Victoria Rowell and Christel Khalil, I’m deeply saddened by the use of the phrase ‘race card’ in reference to Ms. Rowell’s charges that she and other African-American actors were treated unfairly backstage at the YnR.  The ‘race card’ charge is being leveled  by fans and others, especially given Khalil’s recent interview with Buzzworthy radio (you can hear that interview by clicking:  Khalil Interview.  It should be noted that Ms. Khalil is not making that charge, to my knowledge).

The next time someone uses that phrase, I would appreciate a definition of the term to accompany it.  What does it mean to those who’ve used the term?  I’m African-American and I’ve  never received one!  I don’t know any other person of color who owns one.  As I understand it, it’s a ‘get out of <insert problem> free’ card.  You can ‘play’ it and everyone around you bends to your will.  Is that what it is?   And if so,  just how is that workin’ <g> for everyone?  Who has successfully played this mysterious ‘race card’?

GH  dismantled the ‘Asian Quarter’  more than a decade ago.  The only lead African-American male, and one who was connected to one of the show’s prominent core families, was found dead and stuffed in the trunk of a car — THE TRUNK — and he was an attorney.  Of course, he’s the only prominent attorney I can remember who fell in with the mob and was killed for it.  Latinos on GH???  Does Michael’s ex-nanny, Leticia, count?  There were the Alcazars, but they were criminals.  Sonny?  Enough said?

AMC has FINALLY brought the Hubbards back, but the Santos family is long gone.

DAYS?  Technically they still have Abe and Lexie, but other than her getting it on with any new (and young) man who comes to town, there isn’t ever much of a storyline for either of them.  We’ll see what happens with Rafe  and his growing family.

Every soap has its own problems with ‘race’, though OLTL leads the pack in trying to get things right, as far as I’m concerned.

So who has successfully played this ‘race card’?  The writers backstage?  How many writers of color are there in ALL of daytime?  Head writers?  Executive Producers?  Heads of Daytime of any of the networks?  Directors?  HELL, stage managers?  Whoever these successful ‘race card players’ are, someone should give them Victoria Rowell’s phone number.  Apparently they play it well and I’d love to see her back onscreen again!   The trouble for Ms. Rowell is that whenever she’s accused of playing it, she’s also accused of being ‘crazy’, or words to that effect.

When Peter Bergman implied that Victoria Rowell was imbalanced for her criticisms of the treatment of minority actors and characters,  it was heartbreaking.  I can only imagine that Ms. Rowell was in shock, having worked on the same set with the man for so long. I don’t know how she actually felt, I don’t know her.  I do know what I felt when I read his words.  I know how I reacted as a fan.  I  was DONE with him.  I haven’t rooted for him as an actor, or for his onscreen character, since that time.    In a June 2007 Interview with TV Guide

TVG: What did you think of Victoria Rowell [ex-Drucilla, Y&R] lambasting the Emmy system in Soaps in Depth, calling it ‘contaminated,’ and daytime ‘racist’ because she failed to be recognized by her cast?
PB: I look at her with compassion and concern. I don’t think she’s playing with a full deck.

TVG: And the work being judged began in January 2006. When the Emmys air, we’re already into half a year of eligibility for next year’s Emmys!
PB: Exactly. It’s a flawed system, which was born from another flawed system. We haven’t perfected it yet. Another weird thing: I got my pre-nomination on either the 16th or 18th of January. When the Emmys air on June 15, it will be half a year this process has been going on! I mean, come on! There is so much about it that’s maddening, especially with the pre-nominations. For Victoria Rowell, I don’t even know what to say about her because she’s not grounded in reality, however, the system does amount to a popularity contest. You’ve heard all the rumours of who is reviled on their soaps, and that ultimately costs them a nomination even if they had the goldest of golden years.

Has any other actor been called ‘crazy’ (or words to that effect) when they’ve commented on the unfair Emmy process?  PB dismissed Ms. Rowell without refuting any of her claims.   What evidence did he offer that there WAS NO racism either backstage or in the Emmy system?  That, in itself, suggests to me that Ms. Rowell was waging an untenable battle  on a daily basis.  Who took her voice seriously?    PB’s comments, in my book, came across as incredibly self-important, ignorant, arrogant, and self-indulgent – that’s THIS fan’s perspective, you may have viewed his comments differently.  How many African-American actresses have won a daytime (or even prime time) Emmy as Best Actress?  Best Supporting Actress?

From Tom O’Neil (March 2009):

Angela Bassett would make Emmy history if she wins lead actress for ‘ER’

There is a spirited debate in the forums about whether Angela Bassett of “ER” should put herself forward in the lead or supporting category at this year’s Emmy Awards. The Oscar-nominated actress (“What’s Love Got to Do With It”) has joined the cast of the NBC medical drama as attending physician Cate Banfield for the final season of its 15-year run. Were she to get a lead nod and then win, Angela Bassett would make Emmy history as the first African American actress to prevail for a regular lead role on a drama series.  (Read the rest of the article by clicking on ‘Tom O’Neil’, above)

EMMY HISTORY?  In 2009!?!?!?  Click HERE for the ‘Prime Time’ list… I could find no such list for Daytime, if you know of one, let me know.  My current understand is that NO African-American actress has won for Lead or Supporting.

Victoria, Rowell, the ex- Drucilla Winters. This image may be subject to copyright - all rights retained by the original owner

My  interpretation of Mr. Bergman’s comments is that he seems to suggest that things are good for him, so they’re good across the board -, but your mileage may vary in your interpretation.  It strikes me as odd because the man was in a storyline about his “Vietnamese family” (and they were treated as such, never fully integrated into the Abbott family and then written off as quick as an eyeblink given what should have been a prominent status).  Was that not odd?  One of the longest running African-American characters on the show was a woman who served as the Abbott maid, Dru and Olivia’s aunt, a woman named ‘Mamie’ (and if you think about the significance of her name, and her status, you get it).   Ashley was Liv’s sorority sister and despite having no other real friends, they almost never speak.  The YnR made a big production of signing the first lead Asian-American male role in daytime… and then killed him off relatively soon after:  Eric Steinberg’s Ji Min Kim.

NO lead actress/supporting actress Emmys for black actresses, not once in the history of the Emmys and Rowell is  ‘not playing with a full deck’?  Is it possible that Ms. Rowell isn’t crazy, but that she has a different perspective?  Is it possible that she’s thinking about the underside of the industry that doesn’t seem to be openly discussed often enough?  The side of the industry that has existed without intense scrutiny for far too long?  I’m disheartened when thinking that Ms. Rowell spoke out, alone, and that there were no real advocates on her side – at least none that I could find.  I’m disheartened to think that  some of her colleagues still seem to think it’s  perfectly fine to dismiss her as a  ‘difficult’ person, instead of a FRUSTRATED person who may believe that she has to fight for thing things that others seem to take for granted in their work.  I’ve been there.  I know what it’s like to show up day after day and believe that your contribution won’t carry the same weight as others (who may have even contributed less).  I know what it’s like to feel obligated to mention the inequalities and to fight for new standard only to realize that to others it means that you’re being ‘difficult’.  I’m saddened that Ms. Rowell seems to be dismissed as a stereotypically ‘angry black female’, rather than having anyone address the merits of her argument.  That her argument has not been addressed, but that she instead is the focus of any response I’ve heard, suggests to me that there’s something there worth exploring.

I’m glad to hear Kristoff St. John – also on Buzzworthy Radio,  speak out about a similar issue, the problem of diversity overall in daytime and specifically on the YnR (There are no comments from anyone associated with the show which have referred to KSJ as being ‘divorced from reality’, as far as I know!).  It seems that most of the core Winters family have spoken up about the same issue.  You can hear the KSJ interview by clicking HERE.
For the record, I don’t think that the actors, writers, producers, and others are overtly racist.   That’s not the point of this article.  The point of this article is that no matter where we are in our lives, there are very good people, all of whom mean well, but who sometimes have poor judgment – as with our physician friends above.  We are sadly as not introspective about our own ideas, motives, actions as we are judgmental about those of others.  As I think about Ms Rowell’s reactions to very serious issues related to racial diversity in daytime, I am empathetic.  To not want to be subjected to well-meaning, yet still soul searing, unintentional assaults does not make one:

  • mean and nasty
  • crazy
  • troubled
  • delusional
  • disruptive
  • unreasonable
  • too ‘PC’
  • too sensitive
  • ungrateful
  • too outspoken
  • ridiculous

or any other  adjective you might add with a similar sentiment.  It just makes you tired and, yes, sometimes a little angry.  There’s a reason Ms. Rowell has continued to be embraced by so many African-American viewers, and not just as ‘Drucilla’.  I would love for her to continue to speak out, and for others to listen, and to ultimately correct any situation that bears correcting.

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Edited to add a great big special thanks to the brilliant-as-always Adampascalfan for the comment about Debbie Morgan. I found this: “…The talented thespian, who portrays sensible and nurturing Dr. Angela Baxter Hubbard on ABC’s long-running soap opera, became the first (and) only African-American actress to win a Daytime Emmy Award in 1989 when she won (in a tie-can’t the Emmy jurors let a sister get her shine on solo?) when she won for Best Supporting Actress…”   Essence