Urge Soap Opera Mega-Sponsor Procter & Gamble To Help Increase Diversity On Set
The term “soap opera” was coined to refer to the daytime dramas usually sponsored by Procter & Gamble, makers of soap and detergent. Currently, P&G is a primary sponsor for CBS’s “The Young & The Restless,” the highest-rated daytime drama. Unfortunately, when it comes to sponsoring programs whose casts look like their audiences, P&G’s hands aren’t so clean.
Although African-American women comprise an estimated 40% of the viewership of Y&R and daytime soaps in general, CBS, the network on which Y&R is shown, has an abysmal record of hiring people of color. According to an analysis in the New York Times, CBS, the nation’s most popular network, is also the whitest: CBS “had the most diversity 15 years ago and now has the least.”
Victoria Rowell tried to change all that. Rowell played the character of Drucilla Barber Winters on Y&R from 1990 through 2007 -- until racial discrimination and a hostile work environment forced her to reluctantly leave the show. During her time on Y&R and ever since, she’s been speaking out about the lack of diversity on the set and behind the camera, openly advocating for the employment of more African-Americans and people of color. But now she’s paying the price.
“The Young & the Restless,” which P&G sponsors, has refused to re-hire Victoria Rowell because of her efforts to increase diversity on the network.
That’s not because characters featuring positive portrayals of people of color aren’t profitable or popular. Y&R is the #1 daytime drama among African-American women, and Rowell received 11 NAACP Image Awards and two Daytime EMMY nominations for her role as Drucilla. Audiences have clamored for her return ever since she left the show eight years ago.
But Rowell committed the crime of outing the lack of diversity at “The Young and the Restless” and CBS generally. At more than 100 public appearances, Rowell spoke out about the need for greater representation of African-Americans in front of the camera and in critical writing, directing and producing positions.
Ever since, her efforts to get re-hired have been rebuffed.
Tell P&G that the programs it sponsors should reflect the audiences that watch them. Tell them to hire more people of color for The Young and The Restless—and to start by bringing back Victoria Rowell as Drucilla.
While Rowell’s attempts at diversification were rejected and ignored, Proctor & Gamble can’t ignore its millions of customers. Please add your name to the petition to show P&G that we deserve programming that represents who we are as a nation: diverse and unique.
Sign a petition to urge Procter & Gamble President AJ Lafley to increase diversity on the set of the programs his company puts its money behind
Make your voice heard on Twitter! Tweet #dru4diversity to show your support for more diversity in the entertainment industry!
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