On Friday, Sept. 30, THE YOUNG & THE RESTLESS kicks off its 50th season on television, and Bryton James (Devon) has been around for nearly 20 of those 50 years! “It’s an honor to be a part of anything that’s a part of history in this way,” he confided to Soaps In Depth. “This is entertainment and television history. There’s not many shows that can say they’ve reached this milestone.
“And for myself, to have been a part of it for 18 going on 19 years now,” he added. “Yeah, it’s an honor and a privilege to have them still value what I do and my character and to also be able to make a living doing something that I enjoy. It’s an incredible legacy that I’ve been very lucky to be around. And very lucky to have come on board when Mr. Bell and Mrs. Bell were still around.”
James was a teenager himself when he joined the cast of Y&R in June 2004 as young Devon Hamilton and never could have imagined that nearly two decades — and two Daytime Emmy Awards — later he would still be playing this character. “You don’t really think about it!” he exclaimed. “I was only 17 when I got on the show. And I remember having an audition for a commercial that day at the same time and I really didn’t expect to get called back for the soap opera because all I thought about soap operas were they were very adult and very grown-up storylines and what would they want with me, a kid at the time.
“But once I got on the show and started to learn and grow and really enjoy the environment,” James continued, “I’ve never really been able to see myself not a part of the show as long as they’d want me to be around. But yeah, I never thought that 20 years of my life I’d be fortunate enough to be doing this one job.”
Over the years, James has been a part of some powerful and dramatic storylines so it’s hard for him to pick a favorite out of all of them. “Definitely the storyline that brought me onto the show,” he said. “The character came about because Victoria Rowell (ex-Dru) spent the first 18 years of her life in foster care and wanted to bring that storyline to the show. And also the storyline where I lost my hearing. The challenge of doing that. And then probably just the overall love story, the rise and fall of Devon and Hilary. Just because it was classic soap. You know, I had an affair behind my blind father’s back and he found out about it in dramatic fashion. Getting married twice, the last time on her death bed… it was a real roller coaster of a ride that was fun to play out.”
He also treasures many of the backstage memories that he has shared with his Y&R castmates and friends. “To have a show where you’re on for this long, the people that I get to work with, I consider them almost more my family than my family because I see them that often and have so many experiences with them,” James smiled. “But I’d say Kristoff St. John (Neil) has provided some of the best moments on set. I remember he put a fart machine underneath the witness stand in a very intense courtroom scene and let it off at the perfect time. That was a great memory.”
Devon remains a core character of the soap, and James is looking forward to seeing what’s next for his alter ego. Though he has some ideas about what he’d like to see happen! “Devon is always pretty righteous in his judgment and decision making and cautious,” he mused. “I’d like to see him maybe take a turn. Everybody really wants to do something different than what they’ve done, as an actor. So I’d like to see maybe Devon do more in life what he wants to do regardless of what other people think or feel. And be a little rougher around the edges. Back to his roots a bit!”