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Y&R’s Bryton James Shares Epic Tales With GH’s Maurice Benard

Bryton James and Maurice BenardBryton James and Maurice Benard

GH’s Maurice Benard covered a lot of ground in his recent sit-down with two-time Daytime Emmy Award-winning actor Bryton James, who plays Devon Hamilton on The Young and the Restless. His career as a child star, recording artist, life-long friendship with Michael Jackson and the Jackson family, his name change, early divorce, and friendship and working relationship with late castmate Kristoff St. John were all a part of their conversation on Benard’s video podcast show, State of Mind.

Early Divorce: What Bryton James Learned

James began his career as a child, booking a print job as a model at 2 and a half, and signing on to Family Matters as Richie Crawford at 3 and a half. He stayed on the show until 2007. He went on to become an international recording star in his early teens before 9/11 caused him to regroup and concentrate on early college classes, graduating at 16.

Some might call James an old soul. A talented and grounded young man with a good head on his shoulders, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t experience hiccups along the way, as he revealed to his host Benard (Sonny, GH). Like most things in his life, he started young. “I met my ex-wife [Ashley Leisinger] the year I got on The Young and the Restless [2014]. I was 17,” He explained. “We dated for a half year. Forced to split up because I was forced to live with my parents. They had a very strict set of rules.

“I had my own car for the first time, my own job, and I was testing the boundaries just a little bit,” he continued. “And that drove me to, when I was around 20, to find my own place, and being on my own.”

James went on to say, “But I was only on my own for about four months before I had my ex-wife move in with me. And we were together for about seven and a half years. Married for about two and a half.”

He has come to terms with his choices. “It’s rough in the moment when things are happening. I have a complete understanding of why it happened. We both did things to each other out of our own insecurity. It wasn’t a bad experience because it was all necessary. I feel like it was inevitable, at that age, it is inevitable that you would go through these ups and downs because you are still learning.”

Kristoff St. John: The Signs

Despite spending more than a decade as a child actor, James shared with Benard why he considered his role as Devon Hamilton on The Young and the Restless his first real acting job. “My first scene was with Eric Braeden [Victor Newman] and my storyline was with Victoria Rowell [Drucilla Winters] and Kristoff St. John [Neil Winters]. I was on a fast track to try and get better quickly. That’s when I knew that I can do this.”

The subject quickly turned to working with Kristoff, who struggled with bipolar disorder and depression after the suicide of his son, Julian, in 2014, and passed away himself in 2019.

“My first experience with him, I was 17. This was obviously before any of this had happened to his son.” The actor described his friend and co-worker, “For me, with Kristoff, there was nothing negative about him. There was nothing negative about his moods. He was the most positive, light energy ball at work. And that is where our relationship was.

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“The older I got,” continued James, “the more comfortable he felt opening up about that kind of stuff, what was going on in his life, but it really wasn’t until the last year and a half after Julian’s passing did I see any change in him. When he got divorced from Allana [St. John’s second wife], that there was a dark period when he would come to work depressed but that didn’t last for long.”

A lot of people talk about noticing the signs but James noted that St. John was good at hiding them. “He did a really good job about keeping it away from work, separate from the job to where people there who were close to him weren’t aware of how bad it was. Knowing what we know now, my only regret is that I didn’t stay more involved in his life outside of work, outside of the set.”

But towards the end, his grief became more apparent and others noticed. “Daniel Goddard [ex-Cane Ashby], I don’t know if you know him. He was an actor on the show. He’s an Australian guy, my business partner now, but he was a fantastic friend to Kristoff. The last time I saw Kristoff was a day he had been drinking pretty heavily for days straight, was talking about the possibility of hurting himself, and Daniel and I went to his house that morning and spent the entire day with him.

“He was convinced that he had lost his job, just so many things, and they were all wrapped in the grief. It was all about Julian at the end of the day,” James relayed, just trying to make sense of it. “I had never experienced someone suffer like that in person. I had never experienced that before. It was the hardest thing to watch, the hardest thing to see because you can’t really do anything about it.”

Bryton James had so much more to say in this installment of State of Mind. Everything from his father’s career in rock n’ roll and his early connection to Kenny Rogers to his thoughts on philanthropy, marriage, and fatherhood. Don’t miss a minute of it! Click here for the full episode.

Click here for more information on suicide prevention and bipolar disorder. For everything you need to know about the late Kristoff St. John’s project referred to on State of Mind, A Man Called God.

To follow Bryton James on Twitter or Instagram. To follow Maurice Benard on Twitter, Instagram, or State of Mind.

The Young and the Restless (YR) airs weekdays on CBS. Check your local listings for airtimes. For more about what’s coming up in Genoa City, check out all the latest that’s been posted on Y&R spoilers, and for an in-depth look at the show’s history, click here.

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