…actress, long-time award-winning advocate for foster children
Born in Portland, Maine, Victoria Rowell was raised in foster care for eighteen years. Under the auspices of the Ford Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, she received a full scholarship to the Cambridge School of Ballet in Massachusetts at eight years old. There, after eight years of training, Victoria flourished as a ballet dancer garnering scholarships to both the School of American Ballet and the American Ballet Theatre at age sixteen. She danced with the American Ballet Theatre II Company, Ballet Hispanico of New York, Contemporary Ballet, Twyla Tharp Workshop and The Julliard School of Music Dance Extension Program with Anthony Tudor.
After establishing herself as a professional dancer, Victoria was presented with the opportunity to pursue a career in modeling. She soon graced the pages of numerous magazines including Seventeen and Mademoiselle.
Her success in modeling led Victoria to realize that her destiny was to be an actress. She moved to Los Angeles and made guest appearances in various television programs and feature films. Victoria has starred opposite leading men such as Bill Cosby, Beau Bridges, Will Smith, Eddie Murphy, Jim Carey, Samuel L. Jackson, Dick Van Dyke and most recently, Forrest Whitaker. Furthermore, throughout her career as an actress, she has been honored with ten NAACP Image Awards for her theatrical contributions and has been nominated for an Emmy.
In her role as a pathologist and county medical examiner on the hit series Diagnosis Murder, Victoria co-starred with the legendary Dick Van Dyke for eight seasons. She also wrote for the series, spotlighting the issues of foster care and adoption, and was recognized by the Los Angeles Times for her literary contribution. Additionally, she negotiated employment for emancipated foster youth on the show.
Through her work, Victoria Rowell has continued to publicize the issues of foster care and adoption. For example, at her suggestion, Sony Television has supported a foster care and adoption storyline for over a year on the #1daytime drama, The Young and the Restless, of which she is a regular cast member. The weekly audience of millions (domestically and internationally) has followed its development and the US Congress has also recognized the story.
Victoria Rowell has become a voice for foster children like herself. In 1990, she founded The Rowell Foster Children’s Positive Plan (RFCPP). The mission of RFCPP is to give direct services to such areas as: fine arts, higher education, healthcare, financial literacy, reunification programs, cultural enrichment, and resource family support. For more information please visit www.rowellfosterchildren.org.
RFCPP partners with Sony, CBS Television, Samuel L. Jackson and LaTanya Richardson Jackson, The Magic Johnson Foundation, Cedric The Entertainer and Lorna Kyles, Dr. Phil, Sharon Stone, The Will and Jada Smith Family Foundation, Camp to Belong, The California Endowment and many others.
For the past four years, Victoria Rowell has been the National Spokesperson for the Annie E. Casey Foundation/Casey Family Services, the charitable arm of United Parcel Service.
In recognition of her contributions in educating and supporting foster children and her work for human rights and world peace, she received the first National Arts Award from the National Association of Counties and the United Nations Association Award in recognition of her contributions in educating and supporting foster children and her work for human rights. Recently, Victoria received an Honorary Doctorate in Humanities from the University of Southern Maine in recognition of her work in foster care and adoption. She also was selected as a Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute “Angel.”