The Young and the Restless will wrap up its multi-episode tribute to the late Kristoff St. John today by featuring a candid, on-camera discussion with his longtime co-stars, including Victoria Rowell (Drucilla Winters). Here, Rowell — who played St. John’s wife when she appeared on the CBS sudser from 1990-2007 — teases the special episode and whether we will ever see her character return to Genoa City. She also looks back fondly at her close relationship with St. John, who died on Feb. 4 at the age of 52.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What can we expect from today’s installment of The Young and the Restless?
VICTORIA ROWELL A very candid conversation from actors including myself where we break the fourth wall and just talk about our experiences with Kristoff. There are five of us including myself having a conversation — Bryton James, Christel Khalil, Mishael Morgan, and Daniel Goddard — that is reminiscent. Also, in my case, it’s very personal. Our relationship spanned not only The Young and the Restless, but we worked at Viacom together. We did Christmas movies together. We saw each other through marriages, divorces. We laughed a lot together, but we also shared our sorrows.
What was Kristoff like to work with?
Kristoff was like my brother. We had a fantastic brother-sister relationship. He was like a big kid. He made me laugh and he made me really think about things. He was a thinker. He was honest. When he smiled, he had a smile from his childhood. That he was able to do it and be in so much pain, will remain an anomaly. He was a rare person. It was a real gift that [Y&R creator] Bill Bell gave me.
When was the last time you were on that soundstage?
I left in 2007. It was surreal being back. Everyone was really lovely. And it was great seeing people. I gotta tell you, it was a lot to wrap my mind around and why I was there…out of a tragedy. I was there for a purpose, for my friend Kristoff. It was the best possible send off. I saw my castmates, Peter Bergman, Eileen Davidson, everyone hugged each other. If there were swords, they were laid down. It was love. It was sadness. It was a lot of sharing and a lot of tears. In addition to seeing the cast, I was also seeing the crew, and the highlight was a cameraman hugging me, crew coming from different floors to say hello, that was missed a lot. I had one of the directors ask, ‘when are you coming back?’ There was something incredible someone said to me. A black employee at CBS. He said, ‘I heard about the things you did. I don’t know if I would be here if it weren’t for you.’ That made all of it for me. Kristoff being gone, the very difficult years I have gone through, it made it all make sense.
Did they talk to you about reprising your role in some way?
It would be premature to talk about that at this point. What I would feel comfortable discussing is that the audience has now really focused about the role being reprised. You just have to let that be. Social media is amazing that way. It is not beyond the realm of possibility. Sony has the final word. I really don’t have news to share. I worked tirelessly on diversity [when she was there]. It is well-documented. I love the show. They know I would love to return. Kristoff tried.
You’ve found such great success on AMC Networks’ streaming service, UMC. Your Daytime Emmy-nominated soap opera The Rich and the Ruthless returns for its third season on May 23. And your also recently wrote, directed, and starred in a six-episode miniseries called Jacqueline and Jilly that premiered in December on UMC.
This really has to do with coming to terms with how this world is changing, and the bottom line is people are turning to streaming. I know I have an audience share that is powerful. They follow me where I go. Robert L. Johnson, who founded BET, started this streaming service. He started licensing content from me. The company has grown and I’m really proud to be part of that growth. At the same time, it saddens me that I’m prevented from helping the very network that I gave my blood, sweat, and tears to for 23 years. I believe fans are requesting [the return of Drucilla]. I hope we can collectively, in Kristoff’s memory, make something really good happen. Kristoff wanted unity.
The Young and the Restless airs weekdays on CBS.