- Was enrolled in ballet school at age 8 by her foster mother.
- Received a full scholarship to the American Ballet School in New York.
- Danced professionally with numerous ballet companies, including the American Ballet Theater II, Ballet Hispanico of New York, Contemporary Ballet, Twyla Tharp Workshop and the Julliard School of Music Dance Extension Program with Anthony Tudor.
- Began acting while pursuing a modeling career and landed a recurring role on The Cosby Show.
- Originated the character Drucilla on The Young and the Restless in 1990 and won several NAACP Image Awards and three Daytime Emmy nominations for her portrayal.
- Worked simultaneously on The Young and the Restless and Diagnosis Murder.
- Authored a memoir in 2007 titled The Women Who Raised Me as a tribute to the women who helped her through foster care.
- Her real-life son, Jasper Armstrong Marsalis, played her child on Diagnosis Murder.
- Founded the Rowell Foster Children's Positive Plan, an organization dedicated to providing foster children opportunities in the arts and sports.