Victoria Rowell as Drucilla Winters
|The Young and the Restless character|
|First appearance||May 7, 1990|
|Last appearance||April 6, 2007|
|Created by||William J. Bell|
|Other names||Drucilla Barber|
Drucilla Winters is a fictional character from the American CBS soap opera The Young and the Restless. Created by William J. Bell as an effort to add more African American characters to the cast, the role was portrayed by Victoria Rowell. Rowell left the role in 2000 to pursue other projects and Alexia Robinson was introduced as Alex Perez, a replacement character, shortly after. Rowell later returned in August 2002.
In 2007, Rowell became unhappy with the soap opera behind the scenes, labeling daytime television and The Young and the Restless as racist for not having enough African American cast and crew. She also argued the directions of her storylines which weren't heard, prompting her to leave. Within the storyline, Drucilla fell off a cliff and was presumed dead as her body was never found. Rowell has openly expressed pleasure and willingness to return, and as a result of the character's strong appeal and popularity, viewers have campaigned for the series to rehire her. However, CBS has stated that having Drucilla return is not the creative decision they are looking for, which has disappointed fans of the actress. In 2015, Rowell filed a lawsuit against the soap opera and Sony Pictures Entertainment for retaliation, claiming that she had been blacklisted by the network for speaking out against what she believed was racial discrimination during her time portraying Drucilla.
The character is a ballerina-turned-model, and is well known for her forward personality and feisty persona. Her storyline revolves around her relationship with Neil Winters (Kristoff St. John), sleeping with Neil's brother Malcolm Winters (Shemar Moore), which resulted in the birth of her daughter, Lily Winters (Christel Khalil). Lily was raised by Neil; it was not revealed publicly until years later that Malcolm was in fact Lily's biological father. Drucilla is also known for her rivalry with Phyllis Summers (Michelle Stafford), which often provided the series' comic relief, and friendship with many pillars of the town, including Brad Carlton (Don Diamont) and Sharon Newman (Sharon Case).
Victoria Rowell originated the role in May 1990. Dawn McMillan filled in for Rowell while she was on maternity leave in 1996, as well as Kent Masters King assuming the role for several episodes in 2000. In 2000, Rowell chose to exit the soap opera in order to star in a Showtime miniseries. She returned to the role in August 2002, after a two-year absence.
Drucilla's exit in 2007 was not without controversy. She was unhappy about her character, and voiced her opinion about it. Ultimately, Rowell opted to be let out of her regular contract. Months after Drucilla's death, Rowell had an interview with Black Press Magazine. She explained her reasonings for leaving: "We have the most popular daytime show and the number one show for African Americans, hands down. Yet, there are no black writers, there are no black producers, there are no black directors. There are no Black make up artists. There are no Black hairstylists." Rowell went on to say that to get any attention or recognition, she had to write her own script for it to be comfortable with her. She had pointed out signs of racism, as she was a top actress for her work on The Young and the Restless yet had failed to secure many Daytime Emmy Nominations, and never won once. Rowell even expressed her displeasure with the situation on social networking site Twitter, too. In an interview with Soap Opera Digest prior to her final airdate, Rowell stated:
|“||I rewrote every single script I got. I've had to and the writers have always been receptive to that. It all started with Bill Bell giving me permission to tweak script after script and I've been able to do that for 14 years.||”|
In the same interview, she had revealed that accomplished and central actors on the soap opera such as Eric Braeden, who portrays Victor Newman, had asked her to stay. Rowell said that she tweaked her script to give Dru a voice, but explained that "everything happens for a reason and where I couldn't exercise that particular artistic expression with Y&R." Since her departure, speculation has arisen multiple times that Rowell would return at some point, but this has never materialized.
In February 2015, Rowell sued The Young and the Restless and Sony Pictures Entertainment for retaliation, alleging that she was blacklisted by the network and production company due to her speaking out against lack of diversity on and behind the cameras at the soap opera. Rowell also alleged in her suit that she faced years of racial discrimination during her time on the series, and was denied writing and directing opportunities which have been granted to Caucasian actors.
Drucilla Delores "Dru" Barber runs away from home as a teenager, due to her problematic relationship with her mother, Lillie Belle (Norma Donaldson), and goes to stay with her aunt Mamie Johnson (Veronica Redd) who is a housekeeper for Jabot Cosmetics founder John Abbott, Sr. In doing so, she sacrifices her opportunity for a promising career as a ballerina.
Dru is illiterate, but is taught to read by private detective Nathan Hastings (who was once also illiterate). Nathan later marries and fathers a child by Dru's successful physician sister Olivia. Drucilla and Olivia originally have a relationship fraught with tension and anger, due to mother Lillie Belle's favoritism of Olivia over Drucilla, but the two eventually reconcile in a very emotional manner and have more or less been best friends ever since.
Dru eventually marries Neil Winters, but only after many trials and mistakes. One such misstep, is posing nude for Sensuality magazine, though Jill Abbott (Jess Walton) discovers and destroys the film. Over time, Dru eventually evolves into a glamorous model. In June 1993, after marrying Neil, Drucilla finally receives closure by telling off her mother for wanting to abort her and not showing love for her as a child. Dru becomes close with Neil's brother Malcolm Winters, who develops a crush on her. While she is under the influence of cold medication, the two engage in sex. When she ends up pregnant they decide not to uncover the child's paternity and keep their affair a secret. Dru gives birth to her daughter, Lily, in 1995. Dru's marriage to Neil ultimately collapses because her desire for a career clashes with his desire for a wife who stayed home. Dru develops very close friendships with people in town, including Brad Carlton (Don Diamont), Sharon Newman (Sharon Case), Victor Newman (Eric Braeden), and Jack and Ashley Abbott (Peter Bergman and Eileen Davidson). She develops an adversarial relationship with Phyllis Romalotti (Michelle Stafford), which only intensifies as the years go on. Dru and Lily move to Europe where Dru continues her modeling career.
Dru and Lily return to Genoa City for brief visits until 2002 when they come back to stay. Dru comes back hoping for help in reining in their now 14-year-old daughter Lily (Christel Khalil). Instead, it is Lily and Dru who end up helping Neil deal with his drinking problem. Neil and Dru fall back in love and remarry in Japan in 2003. Dru and Neil became swamped with work, leaving Lily with a lot of time to get into trouble. Although Lily ran into the arms of Kevin Fisher, who ended up using her, Neil and Dru were able to work together and save their daughter from losing more than her virginity. Dru went on to help out troubled teen Devon Hamilton, and convinced Neil to become Devon's foster parents.
Miraculously, Neil's brother Malcolm returned from the dead after surviving the car accident, which everyone thought had been his demise. After much protest from Dru, Malcolm demanded a paternity test on Lily, which proved her to be Malcolm's biological daughter. Again, they agreed to keep the secret from Neil. To make matters worse, Lily ran off and married Daniel Romalotti (Michael Graziadei).
In 2006, Neil and Lily (Davetta Sherwood) learn the truth about her paternity. Neil wonders if he will ever be able to forgive Dru for her betrayal, and begins a flirtation with Carmen Mesta (Marisa Ramirez). Dru shows up at an important Newman function, gets drunk and slanders Carmen Mesta in front of everyone. She later lies her way into Carmen's hotel room and ruins many of Carmen Mesta's expensive clothes. Drucilla attacks Carmen in the office at Newman Enterprises. The entire attack is caught on a video tape found by Phyllis, who gives a copy to Carmen. After Carmen gives copies of the tape to the district attorney and her former lover David Chow (Vincent Irizarry), Victoria Newman (Amelia Heinle) is forced to fire Drucilla. Dru is arrested, and though Neil is very much attracted to Carmen, he ends their relationship to stand by his wife. Dru ends up receiving probation for her crimes, and court ordered therapy.
Dru's attention shifts to focus on Indigo, a night club she and Neil are opening. The night it opens, Carmen is murdered and her body is discovered behind the club. Dru's adopted son Devon Hamilton (Bryton James) is arrested for the crime, and Drucilla believes her sanity is crumbling as she begins to see Carmen around town. Drucilla is convinced that Carmen is still alive, and after accidentally injuring her daughter, Neil has her voluntarily committed to a mental hospital. After Devon is cleared of all charges, it is revealed that Carmen's former lover David and her look alike cousin Ines are responsible for the hauntings that sent Dru over the edge and Crimson Lights worker Jana Hawkes (Emily O'Brien) is responsible for Carmen's death. Things are looking up for the family, as Neil receives a promotion to the board of directors at Newman Enterprises, Dru regains her job, and Lily and Devon receive high marks in their college courses.
After Sharon asks Dru to be her maid of honor at her upcoming wedding to Jack, Dru accompanies her and their mutual enemy Phyllis to a cliff side photo shoot for NVP. When Phyllis threatens to use her cell phone to reveal Sharon's affair with Brad to their friends and family, Dru reaches for Phyllis' cell phone, and a brief struggle with Phyllis causes both Dru and Sharon to fall off the cliff; immediately sending Dru into the shallow waters below. Sharon hangs on to Phyllis as she, Lily and Daniel try to pull her up, but Sharon lets go and she too falls off the cliff. An injured Sharon is later found, but search and rescue teams only find the remains of Dru's jacket. Her body is never recovered, and she is presumed dead.
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