Raven Bowens took the daytime fandom by storm as she stepped into the center of one of daytime’s hottest love triangles with her interpretation of the groundbreaking role of Chanel Dupree on Days of our Lives. The baking diva has quickly become a favorite amongst SoapTwitter for her style, her charm and her hilarious one liners.
TV Source Magazine sat down with the actress to discuss everything Chanel, from her love life (#Challie vs. #Janel) to her fashion, the star breaks down this dream role come true. But Bowns doesn’t stop there as we discuss her efforts to give back to the community that raised her and other future business endeavors.
We know that you originally auditioned for Chanel, didn’t get it but of course got called back once the role was vacated by Precious Way. What was it like getting a second shot at DAYS? What was the transition like into the role of Chanel?
So it was actually crazy because when they reached out, they sent me an audition for the role. So I would say I screen tested in November and then my birthday came around on March 24th and they sent another audition and I read the character breakdown and I was like, this sounds like the character they already saw me for. It sounds really similar. So I was shooting at the time – on The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel- in New York. and so I was really busy all day and they were like, We need this tape ASAP. So I called my manager and I was like, they already saw me do this, so like, tell them to just use my tape. I’m not auditioning, you know? My manager was like, “You know what? I agree”, and I was like, “Wait, wait, wait, wait, am I going to sound bougie? Am I going to sound crazy?” She was like, “No, no, you’re right.” And so I said, “OK”. And so she told them that. Then they said, we are recasting the same role and she doesn’t need to audition again, we’re prepared to offer it to her. So then the next day, they sent over the deal.
I got started about a week later, I had to start a little bit later than they wanted me to start because I was still doing the other show. So when I came in I think they needed to get 13 episodes done right before they went on a hiatus. So I was going to have to basically come in and shoot those episodes in a week. Which, yeah, I did. It was crazy because I had never had to take on that amount of material that quickly. I was on the plane learning lines, calling friends like, Hey, can I? Can I pay you ten dollars an hour to run lines? Because I have no money yet? You know, and just kind of just trying to get it done. And so, yeah, it was just really, really fast. When I came in for my first week, I didn’t even know anyone’s names because I couldn’t I couldn’t memorize anything else. So yeah, that was pretty much it.
Do you still get starstruck every time you work with Jackée Harry or Marla Gibbs? Have they shared any showbiz advice with you? *
I would say definitely, I definitely still get star struck for sure, especially whenever Marla comes on because she is just an icon. They’re both icons, really. ButI get to see Jackée more and play with her more. . But Marla was so funny because she’s actually a big fan of the show. So she knows everything that’s going on, so she’ll come on and she calls you by your character and she talks to you about your storyline. And she’s just so beautiful and so sweet. Then, Jackée, she respects the craft so much, and she’s such a professional that it is just such a pleasure to work with her and to learn from her. And it’s always interesting because I get the scripts and I run the lines. And, you know, sometimes when you start to know people, you can know how they’re going to deliver the lines. But Jackée is such a, you know, wild, spontaneous actor that I never know what to expect. So it’s fun because it keeps me on my toes because I know it won’t be anything like what I thought it was going to be.
You work with the younger cast a lot and of course those two iconic actresses, but who else would you like to share scenes with from Salem? *
Oh yeah. I haven’t worked with Drake Hogestyn (John Black) yet, which is like, I want to work with him. He’s an icon. He’s like at the top for me because I think I’ve almost worked with mostly everybody else for the most part.
I’m not sure if you’re aware of Twitter ship names, butI’m going to refer to them as Challie and Janel. Did the support of Challie and Janel coming so quickly surprise you? The chemistry is so natural between both of them that it’s hard to know which one to choose. Myself included. One week, we like Challie. The next week, we love Janel. Was that support surprising to you at all?
Yes, definitely. Because I didn’t know I had heard of super couples and soap operas, but I never realized how big that the ships were like. I didn’t even realize because sometimes people tag me in things, and so I’ll see them that way. But one day I got curious and I just typed hashtag Janelle or hashtag Challie and then I saw so much stuff and I was like, Wow, it’s amazing, actually. But yes, it definitely surprised me. Definitely.
There was a scene between Chanel and Paulina where Chanel admitted that while she had romantic feelings for Allie, it was Johnny who she was truly in love with. Is that still the case or are Chanel’s feelings between the two more even?
Oh, I would say that it’s kind of a constant evolution. I think that Chanel is very much in the moment, and I think that she loves both of them. But I think her concept of long term is kind of, or the idea of whatever long term is, is kind of far out for her. So it’s just like, what is being reciprocated, what feels good at the time? That’s the interesting thing because like you would think with that, that it’s not real or it’s not genuine, but I feel like for her, it is, but it’s just that she just has this ability to just be in the moment with whoever she’s in that moment with.
Chanel has come to Salem and become very much the voice of the audience in a lot of ways and they have written some very funny lines for you. “White people are crazy” is probably our favorite. How do you approach your character being the funny, current young woman that she is?
That’s my mom’s favorite too! She’s like, Yeah, make sure you put that in your interview reel.
Well, it’s interesting because for the most part, the way that she feels about things and the things that she says is aligned with me.So that makes it easier for me to be in Salem and to have that perspective. Because sometimes you get far out stuff. Chanel, for the most part, gets to exist in a place of truth and, you know, relatability.
So we need Chanel style secrets! The clothes and the hair, they’re always on point for Chanel. Can you tell us more about Chanel style? Is it evolving? Would you say that it’s changed since she came in or will it change going forward?
So Richard Bloore the costume designer and head of wardrobe, when I first came in, he had a conversation with me. He pulled a bunch of clothes and he asked me, “What do you like? What don’t you like?” For me, I like colors. On brown skin colors pop so I like colors. Then also, Chanel is bold and has a very bold personality, and she also is named Chanel, so I think those are two hints that she has to be a fashionista.
With those two things, I go, “OK.” Me, Raven. Naturally, I like solid colors. You know, I like simple but stylish that is what I would say I lean towards. But with Chanel, it gives me permission to be a little bit more wild in the wardrobe choices because I see Chanel as new money. So new money is real loud. So we’re going to wear all of the colors. She’s going to be like, if it had a brand name, it’d be all the way across the chest. Like, that’s very much her. So that’s kind of where we come from collectively. We always try to find things that look like they’re high fashion, but like the loudest of high fashion.
As a longtime viewer of Days of Our Lives, when I think back on their history of diversity we’ve always had the Carver family but I can’t honestly say that they’ve ever been a fully fledged family. It’s been a couple of people here and there, and that’s it. So how do you feel being part of such a major moment in Days as a core member of the show’s first true fully fledged black family unit? And what can we expect from the messiness that is the Carver/Price family?
So I would say that, with the Carver family, I think, in a lot of ways they have paved the way for us to come in, and from Lani and Eli having the first black marriage on Days of our Lives and just all the interracial stuff that they’ve done in the past that was pretty much before its time, in a way. I feel like I’m adding to that and contributing to the groundwork that they’ve already laid. It just feels like a privilege, and I feel honored to be able to contribute to the representation, because representation matters.
I love that they keep adding and expanding our family. I think it’s necessary and I also love that the way that they write is like us. I don’t feel like it’s an idea of what a black woman is or a young blackperson is. I feel like it’s pretty much on point for the most part, and if there’s ever any issues, there’s always an open dialogue in which we can contribute in that way. But I do feel like whenever I see it, I’m like, “Oh yeah, this sounds like Jackée.” “Oh Yeah, this sounds like, me.” So I like that we’re not just, you know sometimes in mainstream media they will put black people there just as decoration or to fill a quota. That’s not what they’re doing here. We have strong voices, we have clear voices and we have voices that are true to to our DNA.
Hopefully, we’ll get some more moments between Chanel and Lani because one of my favorite relationships between sisters was actually on the Young and the Restless back in the 90s, and we haven’t really had that since. Can we expect some more sisterly scenes between the two?
Oh yes. Some more scenes coming. Chanel looks up to Lani and in a lot of ways they’ve always both yearned for that sister relationship because it was something that they were both deprived of because of Paulina. But yeah, they’re both yearning for a relationship and it does manifest.
We loved seeing Chanel as a part of a Very Salem Christmas on Peacock. What was it like participating in something that was a little bit more lighthearted than the main show?
It was really fun. I’ve always wanted to do a Christmas movie. I say it all the time, so it just kind of came out of left field and they were like, “Oh, we’re going to make a Christmas movie.”
All of us playing with people that we don’t usually play with was also fun. Like them, putting me with Tripp was hilarious. So that was just fun, and then just me and Lucas like making a joke out of it and milking it and just we had to have fun. So we just had a great time. We shot the whole movie in I think four days. Yeah, I heard that. It was long days, longer than our days ever are on Days, But yeah, it was just really, really so much fun.
How did it feel winning the Soap Opera Digest Outstanding Newcomer award alongside Carson Boatman?
I’ve always read the soap digest. I’ve read it for years, even when I was a kid, I would always pick them up because they were always the small ones, you know, and I would pick them up and look at them. So just ever being in the soap digest is still surreal for me, just in general. Then winning, that really caught me by surprise. It was amazing.
Your hometown, and your family, clearly mean a lot to you. We’ve seen San Diego celebrate you, your family’s big viewing party for your Days debut. What has it been like for them to see your career grow this way?
I think it’s one of those things where everyone is so proud and they all feel like they’re here and they’re part of it and they have been throughout my whole entire journey, they’ve all been so supportive. I’ve done a lot of plays around the city and I always had a lot of friends and family drive up from San Diego to pay money to come and see me being in a hole in the wall production of something. I’ve sacrificed a lot. I’ve missed a lot of birthday parties, baby showers, weddings. I miss a lot of those things because I’ve been out here on my grind and I was always afraid that I was going to ruin those relationships or jeopardize those relationships. But really, there’s just so much love that everyone’s so understanding and it’s just so beautiful. I just have such a beautiful, strong support system.
Speaking of your hometown, we’d love to hear more about your giving back efforts, namely the cheerleading program that you began. Is that still running?
Unfortunately, not anymore. But I started a cheerleading program for inner city youth in South Central. I worked for ICF, which is Inner City Education Foundation, so I worked there as a tutor, and then I went from tutoring to coaching cheerleading at four of their schools.
I want to figure out how to get back into doing that because I really loved that. But the timing is hard because there’s a very specific window that you can do that in and it’s hard to juggle with other opportunities.
Speaking of other ventures, you have a new Tea business coming out with your sister called Peace Potions. Is it safe to say that you’re not a coffee person like I am?
Oh no, I hate coffee. I hate it. Hate it. I like the smell. It smells beautiful. Like when you wake up and someone’s brewing coffee, I love that smell. But I don’t like the taste. I don’t like chocolate either, and they taste the same to me.
My mom. She loves coffee. It’s a little ritual for her. So like, sometimes I’ll tell her to give me like we’ll say a fourth of the cup with coffee and then the other three fourths filled with cream. Cream with coffee. I can do that. As long as I can just only get a hint of it, then it is fine.
But I love tea, all kinds of tea. But mostly I like black tea, which is the most similar to coffee. You know, black tea with a little cream. So my sister and I, we have a tea company that we do together that is called Peace Potions. We curate different herbs and blends.
When I think about life goals and I think about happiness, I truly mean peace. It’s above happiness for me. I think that peace is more important. I think that we have to remember to make peace a priority in our lives. So that’s kind of what the tea company is for me, because whenever I sit down and I have my tea, and I’m sure people feel this way with their coffee, but that’s like a moment for you to just get centered. It’s time for you to figure out what you’re going to do and you should feel at peace. When you’re having your little little moment, your little tea moment or coffee moment.
So we also loved seeing you on HBO’s Insecure as Sharice, being the scene stealer that you always are. What was it like being able to be a part of a black led production?
It was incredible. I am such a big fan of Issa Rae. I’m such a big fan of hers and I was disappointed I didn’t get to meet her. But Yvonne Orji, I worked with her for a few days and she was second on the call sheet. She was really just a really generous actress and really present and really made me feel like I was a part of the family, even though I was only there for a short time. That whole entire set. When you talk about, you know, black being black or being black and being a woman, you go on that set and everybody is of color. There’s so many women in positions of power and it, the whole set, really feels like a party.
For our last question, do you have any words of advice for aspiring young actors, especially young black actors like yourself getting into this industry?
Don’t let anyone else limit your beliefs or stand in the way of your dreams. Because everybody sees things through their own limitations and you can’t let other people’s limitations limit you. Because there’s no limits.