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'Revenge' Actor Madeleine Stowe Helping Build Haiti School

Spencer Platt/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) -- She plays the Queen of Mean in her latest role as Victoria Grayson on ABC's Revenge but off-camera, actress Madeleine Stowe is working to help children in Haiti get a fresh start.

"If I had all the money in the world, I would know where it would go," Stowe said. "I know exactly where it would go."

It's been two years since a massive earthquake tore through the impoverished Caribbean country, but Haiti continues to feel its ravaged effects. Through a group called Artists for Peace and Social Justice, Stowe is helping to build Haiti's first free public high school -- 100 percent of donations to the organization go towards work on the ground.

"It will eventually have 3,000 students," Stowe said. "The beauty of it is that it is enclosed in this 40-acre compound where this hospital exists so the children are also getting health care."

Stowe has been traveling to Haiti since before the 2010 earthquake and said when she returns from her trips, she feels new heartache.

"When I come back the same thing always happens, I'm hungry but I can't eat," she said. "I feel an ache in my stomach and I -- invariably we -- I variably weep. I never weep when I'm there because the people are so alive and present and when I come back, that's generally when I fall apart."

It's a world away from the fictional Grayson Manor on Revenge, which has become one of the most popular TV dramas this season after launching last fall, and Stowe's role as Victoria, the scheming socialite with ice in her veins and that tantalizing, evil smile, is far from the real person.

"She's full of hate... she's very venal, but she also loves very deeply," Stowe said of her character. "I have it in me to be mean. We all have a little mean, but I try to keep it down. It happens if I am politically outraged or have a bad day with my husband maybe. Definitely comes through."

Revenge is like The Count of Monte Cristo set in the luxurious Hamptons, present day -- although Grayson Manor was recreated on a sound stage in Manhattan Beach, Calif. from a house in North Carolina. The Graysons are American blue bloods with a hedge fund and a few skeletons in the closet.

"I thought it would be interesting for the viewers to watch their cake and eat it too," Stowe said. "In other words, see people with a very extravagant lifestyle, but having terrible things happen to them."

As Victoria, Stowe may be the best-dressed woman on television, with every outfit custom tailored to fit her body -- she admitted with a laugh that she doesn't get to keep the clothes. But while her character lives like a diva, Stowe is passionately private. It's one reason the actress said she took a step back from working in movies 15 years ago.

"There is a part of me that likes the attention, but mostly I would disappear and recede," she said. "It's always about, for me, trying to find the thing I am very engaged in and feel clean about, which is sort of the anti-thesis to this character."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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