Born in Portland, Maine, Victoria Rowell was raised in foster care for the first 18 years of her life. The love, guidance, and support of her foster families instilled in her the confidence and drive to succeed. At eight years old, Rowell received a scholarship to the Cambridge School of Ballet, through the Ford Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.
Following eight years of training, she flourished as a dancer earning scholarships to both the School of American Ballet and the American Ballet Theater by age 16. After dancing professionally with the American Ballet Theater II Company, Ballet Hispanico of New York, Contemporary Ballet, Twyla Tharp Workshop, and The Julliard School of Music Dance Extension Program with Anthony Tudor, Rowell decided to pursue a career in modeling. She successfully went on to grace the pages of Seventeen, Mademoiselle, and countless other magazines, soon choosing to become an actress.
Since then, she has established a remarkable acting career in both television and film. An Emmy-nominated actress, and the recipient of seven NAACP Image Awards, her credits include the television series The Cosby Show, Diagnosis Murder, The Young and The Restless, her films include Secret Sins of the Father, The Distinguished Gentleman, Dumb and Dumber, Eve’s Bayou, and Feast of All Saints.
Never one to forget her origins, even amid success, Rowell has been able to use her celebrity status to gain a voice for foster children. With the founding of The Rowell Foster Children’s Positive Plan, she is succeeding in her goal, leading the cause of advocacy for foster children throughout the United States. Rowell tells the inspirational story of her rise out of the foster-care system through the stories of the incredible women who each lifted her up in different ways in her memoir, The Women Who Raised Me.
Praise for The Women Who Raised Me:
“A kaleidoscope of women comes to life in Victoria Rowell’s thoughtful memoir: Pragmatic New Englanders. Aristocratic ballet teachers. Heavily medicated divorcees. They are among the dozen or so women who raised her after mental illness waylaid her birth mother. But the author herself is the most compelling figure in the book. It helps that Rowell, a dancer turned actress best known for her role on the long-running CBS soap opera The Young and the Restless, writes with skill.”
“The strength and tenacity of Victoria had to come from somewhere. The compassion and depth of love had to have a genesis. Her commitment to the lives of others had to be ingrained in her somehow. Now we know where these things were born and nurtured. Her journey is one to be shared and absorbed by us all. To know her personally or through this tome is to be enriched beyond belief. I hope all who read this come away as I have...with a renewed commitment to life and others.”
—Samuel L. Jackson
“I know exactly where Victoria Rowell comes from. We both began life in the shadow cast by the absence of fathers. We both were in foster care and both developed a lifelong appreciation for those surrogates and mentors who gave us a chance to prove ourselves. The story of Victoria’s ascendance to achieve the American dream - as a classical ballerina, actress, activist, and mother - should soon be jumping off the bookshelves and onto the movie screen.”
—Chris Gardner, Author of The Pursuit of Happyness