Victoria Rowell, a Maine-born actress best known as a star of the CBS daytime drama “The Young and the Restless,” is suing the network and the show’s producers, charging they have kept her off the show since 2010 as retaliation for her outspoken attempts to have more black people working on soap operas.

Rowell, 55, filed the 31-page suit in New York on Wednesday, asking the court to force her to be rehired by the show, or to at least be considered for a part on the show. It also asks she be awarded “reasonable” monetary damages, including back pay.

Rowell was on the soap opera from 1990 to 2007, when producers made her character suddenly go insane. The suit claims the switch, which was not discussed with Rowell, was done in retaliation for her being outspoken about black characters being treated like “second-class citizens” on “The Young and the Restless.”

“This is about retaliation. I have exhausted all my avenues of seeking employment, and I had to do this,” Rowell said of the suit, from Los Angeles on Thursday. “This an attempt not only to regain my own employment, but to help others in the soap opera industry get in front of and behind the cameras.”

Rowell has continued to be outspoken about that issue even when, beginning in 2010, she attempted to get back on the show. The suit claims producers are keeping Rowell off the show to their own economic detriment, because of her popularity, especially with black audience members.

The suit says that 40 percent of the viewers of daytime dramas are African-American women and that Rowell won 11 NAACP Image Awards for playing Drucilla Winters on the show.

“Defendants have rejected Ms. Rowell’s efforts to return to the show, even though rehiring Ms. Rowell would be in their economic interest,” the suit states. “(Defendants) have disregarded their own self-interest in their efforts to retaliate against Ms. Rowell.”

Rowell, who lives in California, is listed in the suit as having “an African-American father and an Anglo-American mother” and as someone who “self-identifies as black.”

Rowell was born in Portland, but raised mostly by a foster mother, Agatha Armstead, on a 60-acre farm in the tiny southern Maine town of Lebanon. With Armstead’s help, Rowell got a Ford Foundation scholarship to study ballet at the Cambridge (Mass.) School of Ballet. By the age of 16 she also had scholarships from the School of American Ballet and Dance Theater of Harlem. While still in her teens she moved to New York and began her performing career.

In 1990, just months after landing her part on “The Young and the Restless,” Rowell started a foundation to help foster children experience the arts. In 1993 she landed a prime-time TV role, as co-star to Dick Van Dyke on his highly-rated mystery series “Diagnosis Murder.”

She has come back to Maine often over the years, to appear at charity events and to promote her books. An avid gardener, she’s appeared several times at the Portland Flower Show. In 2007 she published a memoir, “The Women Who Raised Me.” In 2012 she co-wrote “Tag, Toss & Run: 40 Classic Lawn Games” with Maine-based organic lawn expert Paul Tukey.

Rowell’s recent roles have included playing a judge on two episodes of the NBC series “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.”