|The Young and the Restless character|
|Portrayed by||Bryton James|
|First appearance||June 1, 2004|
|Created by||John F. Smith, Kay Alden and Trent Jones|
|Introduced by||William J. Bell, David Shaughnessy and John F. Smith|
|Other names||Devon Hamilton Winters|
Devon Hamilton is a fictional character from the original CBS daytime soap opera The Young and the Restless portrayed by Bryton James. The character was conceived by head writers John F. Smith, Kay Alden and Trent Jones in the summer of 2004. Devon is introduced as a homeless teenager when he is fostered by the Winters family, the core African-American characters within the series. Drucilla Winters (Victoria Rowell) sympathizes with Devon because she too grew up in the foster care system. Drucilla and husband Neil (Kristoff St. John) raise Devon along with their daughter Lily (Christel Khalil) and legally adopt Devon in 2006. As a college freshman, Devon contracts meningitis and loses his ability to hear. He learns sign language to communicate and later receives a cochlear implant. Other notable storylines involving the character include the revelation about his paternity making him the grandson of Katherine Chancellor (Jeanne Cooper), inheriting the bulk of Katherine's billion-dollar estate, and his love affair and marriage to his former stepmother Hilary Curtis (Mishael Morgan).
The foster care, meningitis and deaf story arcs received critical acclaim for their social impact and earned James five Outstanding Younger Actor Emmy nominations. James won the award in 2007. James also earned four consecutive NAACP Image Award nominations for his portrayal of Devon and he won the award in 2009. The pairing of Devon and Hilary quickly amassed a very active fan base and is considered to be a supercouple. Bryton's portrayal of Devon during Hilary's kidnapping at Neil's hands also earned James a nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actor Emmy in 2016.
Devon is born to a young Yolanda Hamilton (Chene Lawson) on February 7, 1988. Struggling to care for him, Yolanda turns to drugs and Devon is sent to live with his grandmother at the age of six when his mother suffers an overdose. His grandmother is the only person he can depend on and he has very fond memories of her up until her death. Devon and Yolanda eventually reconnect but he is forced to care for himself because of her addiction. Devon acts out and is even arrested for assaulting a guy who teases him about Yolanda's habit. Devon grows up believing his father is some random guy from the neighborhood who got Yolanda pregnant and rejected her. However, his alleged father dies before Devon meets him.
The character is introduced in 2004 as a delinquent living out of group homes. The homeless teenager is fostered and eventually adopted by Drucilla Winters (Victoria Rowell) and her husband, Neil (Kristoff St. John). In 2006, Devon contracts meningitis and completely loses his hearing and he receives a cochlear implant to restore his hearing. Later Devon is implicated in the murder of Carmen Mesta (Marisa Ramirez). Fortunately his name is cleared when Jana Hawkes (Emily O'Brien) admits to the murder. In December 2006, Devon is officially adopted by Neil and Dru but his happiness is short-lived when Dru is presumed dead in April 2007. Later that year, Devon starts dating Lily's friend, Roxanne (Tatyana Ali). In 2008, Devon meets his "aunt" Tyra (Eva Marcille) for the first time and he learns that Tyra's adopted daughter, Ana (Jamia Simone Nash) is actually his biological half-sister, also abandoned by Yolanda.
In 2009, Neil and his new wife Karen Taylor (Nia Peeples) make plans to adopt Ana but those chances are destroyed when Neil cheats with Tyra—and Devon witnesses the affair. In May 2009, Devon meets his great-aunt Virginia (Della Reese) who reveals that Tyra is adopted and Devon disapproves when she starts dating Neil. However, Devon realizes his disdain for Tyra stems from the fact that he is attracted to her and after she splits with Neil, they end up sleeping together after he berates her for breaking up Neil's marriage. Roxanne finds them together and immediately dumps him while Tyra skips town with Ana. Devon and Roxy reconcile in October 2009.
After he graduates college in 2010, Devon takes a job as a photographer's assistant to support his music career. He lands a gig at Tucker McCall's label Resurrection Music producing with Noah Newman (Luke Kleintank). However, when Noah abandons him for another gig, Devon convinces Tucker to give him another chance which culminates with Tucker firing him. Fortunately, Tucker's estranged mother Katherine Chancellor (Jeanne Cooper) launches her own label and hires Devon to run it. When Katherine falls into a coma, it is revealed that Tucker is Devon's biological father. Devon rejects Tucker and Katherine as Yolanda (Debbi Morgan), now called Harmony, returns looking to make amends and explain her actions. Ana convinces Devon to forgive Yolanda, and try and connect with his new family. In 2012, Tucker and Harmony convince Devon to get another surgery to improve his hearing. Devon befriends Abby Newman (Marcy Rylan) who invests in his label as he produces for Angelina Veneziano (Diana DeGarmo). Devon offers her a record contract, but Angelina instead goes to California and Devon closes down his label and joins the marketing team at Jabot Cosmetics. In 2013, Tucker offers Devon a position at his record label but Devon turns it down because it would keep him away from his family and Roxy is furious that Devon considered taking the position without consulting her. Katherine passes away and Devon is shocked when he inherits the bulk of her billion dollar estate. Devon offers a million-dollar reward for Cordelia Abbott's killer and even funds a charity in her name. However, Devon's paranoia about his new found wealth leads to Roxy leaving him. Devon befriends Mason Wilder (Lamon Archey) and the reformed bad girl Hilary Curtis (Mishael Morgan) who tips him off about Mason stealing his identity after Devon gets arrested for destroying a hotel room in Las Vegas. Devon also defends Hilary against Lily's attacks.
In 2014, Devon buys the Genoa City Athletic Club, hires Lily and her husband Cane Ashby (Daniel Goddard) to run it. After Hilary rejects him, Devon has several flings, including the gold digger model Esmeralda (Briana Nicole Henry). Despite that, Devon is still attracted to Hilary and is furious to learn she is sleeping with Neil. Devon professes his love for Hilary and kisses Hilary the night before she marries Neil. Hilary rejects him, Devon reluctantly stands in as Neil's best man at the wedding. Devon drowns his sorrows in alcohol, getting Hilary's attention, and she urges him to forget about her. Devon admits his love for her and after several close moments, Devon decides to leave town. Though she doesn't want to hurt Neil, Hilary admits her feelings for Devon and they grow closer after they are stranded on the side of the road over night. Devon later agrees to a date with Abby (Melissa Ordway) hoping to get Cane and Lily off his back just as Hilary is ready to make a decision about their future. Hilary finally professes her love for Devon and they agree to tell Neil the truth just as Neil lands in the hospital after being electrocuted and left blind. Because Hilary refuses to leave Neil until he recovers, Devon and Hilary give in to temptation and begin an affair. They are later discovered by Cane who orders them to end it immediately. However, they continue seeing each other in secret only to be caught by Cane's father Colin Atkinson (Tristan Rogers) who blackmails Devon into paying him off in exchange for his silence. Colin later demands more money so he can help Jill acquire Chancellor Industries from Victor Newman. Cane neutralizes Colin and Devon gives the money directly to Jill and makes her promise to cut Colin out of the company.
Devon wants to wait for Neil to adjust to the news that his condition isn't treatable, only for Neil to confront them when they are on a plane trip to Chicago looking for office space for Chancellor. The plane later crashes leaving the group stranded in a blizzard and they are eventually rescued. Devon is devastated when Hilary announces that she faked her love for Devon to avenge her mother's death. In March 2015, during a drunken binge, Neil causes a car accident that leads to district attorney Christine Blair (Lauralee Bell) and police chief Paul Williams (Doug Davidson) losing their unborn child and to keep Neil out of prison, Devon immediately contacts Leslie to represent him. Devon is shocked when Hilary blackmails ADA Winston Mobley (Ryan Caltagirone) into giving Neil a suspended sentence. Hilary finally comes clean about her schemes and tells Devon she is still in love with him and she only left him so he could salvage a relationship with Neil. Devon and Hilary reunite and announce their engagement shortly after Hilary and Neil's divorce is finalized. Devon and Hilary support Lily when her marriage falls apart after her own affair Joe Clark (Scott Elrod) and she assist them with wedding planning. At his bachelor party, Devon presumably gets drunk and cheats on Hilary with a prostitute. While he doesn't remember anything, Lily warns a distraught Devon to keep quiet unless he is sure. Neil finally gives his blessing on Devon and Hilary's wedding day they on their honeymoon soon after. When Hilary goes missing, Devon is the prime suspect and he returns to Genoa City to avoid being arrested. Devon is about to be extradited back to Virgin Gorda until Nikki Newman (Melody Thomas Scott) pulls strings to stop the transfer. As Devon awaits news after offering a reward, he tracks down the pilot that transported Hilary from the island who reveals she is in Genoa City. Devon receives a ransom note and someone steals the reward and Cane is implicated. Hilary resurfaces suffering from amnesia and believing she is married to Neil and rejecting Devon. Devon is furious when Neil confesses to rescuing Hilary after accidentally causing her accident; Neil has hired Dr. Simon Neville (Michael E. Knight) to help bring her out of the coma. Devon is about to turn Neil in until Hilary talks him out of it. Devon's hopes for reconciliation are dashed when Hilary regains her memories but not her feelings for Devon. Devon rescues Neil from Neville's blackmail attempt by investing in Neville's medical research and Devon puts Neil in charge. Ashley Abbott (Eileen Davidson) comes aboard and allows the research project to set up shop in Jabot Cosmetics lab. Hilary also becomes the spokes model for the project to help protect Devon's investment.
In January 2016, Neil tries to orchestrate Devon and Hilary's reunion and Devon is furious to find the duo sleeping together. Devon then serves Hilary with divorce papers and after Neil rejects her, Hilary suddenly changes her mind about loving Devon but he is hesitant to believe her. A drunken Neil causes trouble at a press conference forcing Devon to fire allowing Hilary to take over. Devon is suspicious when Ashley suddenly gives up her position at the research company to Hilary. When Jack and Neil form the Abbott-Winters Foundation to support recovery centers across the country, Hilary convinces Devon to donate $1 million to challenge Ashley. Hilary also fights for a seat on the board of the foundation and Devon convinces Neil not to hire her fearing the trouble she could cause. A furious Hilary announces plans to divorce Devon and take half his fortune but when Hilary ends up in the hospital again, he rushes to her side as Neville administers treatment. Though Neville believes his medicine is working, Hilary collapses in Devon's arms—she is dying. Devon fires Neville and hires another doctor to save his wife. When the victims of the fail drug protocol announce plans to sue, Hilary convinces Devon to settle with them to avoid escalated scandal. Devon, Hilary, Lily and Cane later support Neil when he reconnects with his estranged mother who dies shortly after their reunion. In September 2016, Devon attempts to bribe the GC Buzz to kill a story about Jack Abbott (Peter Bergman) allegedly abusing his wife Phyllis (Gina Tognoni) and it backfires when the tabloid runs a story about Devon bribing the press. To stop the stories' circulation, Devon buys the production company and plans to shut down production until Hilary convinces him to keep it on the air and just change the way they tell stories. Devon goes a step further and decides to make Hilary the lead anchor. However, Hilary becomes obsessed with keeping viewers happy and spiking ratings which clashes with Devon's wishes of telling stories without destroying lives. Devon enlist Hilary's new assistant Mariah Copeland (Camryn Grimes) to help keep Hilary on the straight and narrow. Hilary and Mariah clash over how to handle the revelation that her mother Sharon Newman (Sharon Case) has secretly been raising her ex-husband Nick's (Joshua Morrow) presumed dead son. When Hilary edits an interview with Sharon's husband Dylan McAvoy (Steve Burton) to smear Sharon to get back at Mariah, a furious Devon fires her. Despite a humiliating fall on air, Devon convinces Mariah to serve as a temporary replacement until he can find a permanent host as Hilary refuses to return to the job. Meanwhile, Devon and Hilary reconcile and they move into a new penthouse. When Lily reveals that Hilary lied to Devon about her several job offers in order to get him to rehire her, they discuss their trust issues and decide to start over, with honesty first. However, during a gala for the Abbott-Winters Foundation, Devon rejects Hilary when he discovers that Hilary also lied about being responsible for Mariah's accident and gets into a car accident. Fortunately, Devon survives but initially doesn't remember the incident due to a concussion. Devon regains his memory and dumps Hilary because of her constant lying. However, Devon convinces Hilary to co-host GC Buzz with Mariah. After weeks of back and forth, Devon is jealous when Hilary starts seeing Jordan Wilde (Darnell Kirkwood) and after she demands that he forgive her or divorce her -- the couple signs divorce papers. As part of Hilary's divorce settlement, Devon gives her complete control of GC Buzz with the stipulation that she can't fire anyone for a year -- to protect Mariah whom he is dating.
Casting and creation
Bryton James, then known as Bryton McClure and for his six year long stint as Richie Crawford on the sitcom, Family Matters was cast in the role of Devon in April 2004 and made his onscreen debut on June 1, 2004. Just before completing high school, James took up acting once again and one of his first auditions was for The Young and the Restless. In a 2014 interview with Soap Opera Digest in honor of his 10th anniversary with the series, James reflected on the audition process: "I remember very vividly walking through the big door on the third floor for the read. The scenes for my audition were heavy drama so I had a sense of what I would be in for." James also screen tested opposite his longtime friend and co-star Christel Khalil. James and Khalil had previously worked together on Family Matters where she had a guest role. After almost five years with the series, rumors spread in the spring of 2009 that James had been dropped to recurring status due to his lack of story. Nelson Branco commented on the rumors and said Bryton had indeed been taken off contract. However, Bryton immediately denied the rumors. In September 2009, James once again confirmed on Twitter that he was still under contract with the show. With the arrival of new executive producer, Jill Farren Phelps, rumors began circulating that the role of Devon was to be recast. The show's casting call for a brand new character very similar to Devon fed into fan speculation. However, Phelps later confirmed that Bryton was secure and the casting call was indeed for a new character. In 2013, onscreen events hinted at Bryton's potential exit once again. James revealed that he signed a new contract with the show in July 2013 during an interview at the 40th Daytime Emmy Awards. James told Soaps In Depth that he would have been worried just like fans had he not already signed a new contract with the series. Bryton revealed that even when he was not getting much story development, he never considered leaving the series because he felt a sense of loyalty to the series.
"The character is so complex" Bryton James said of his character. Devon is introduced as a "homeless foster kid with trust issues." In a 2004 interview with Soap Opera Weekly, James described Devon as a "very guarded kid." Devon is not the kind of guy that likes to be "babied" the actor said in an interview with Soap Opera Digest in 2006. Devon has a tendency to lash out if he feels like he is being sheltered. Of the character, Scott Hamner said "Devon is very independent and confident in his ability to care of himself and shape his own destiny." James described Devon as being very "down to earth." Over the years, Devon has become accustomed to dealing with huge life changes.
Foster care and deafness
Of James introduction storyline as the troubled homeless foster kid taken in by Neil and Drucilla, Soap Opera Digest said the character landed on the "front burner in a social-issue saga." James commented that the story was very special for him because it was pitched by Victoria Rowell herself. "It was something very close to [Rowell's] heart and I wanted to do the best I could" said the actor. Of his character, James said that Victoria Rowell was a "huge part" of developing the character of Devon due to her own experience with the foster care system. James appreciated that his introduction was not the "traditional" soap story but instead it was very socially relevant. The foster care story was also "very different" from his own life. However, because Rowell grew up in foster care, "[Bryton] got to learn about it through [Rowell]" and a lot of Devons' experiences within the series are incorporated from Rowell's real life. "I tried to understand how to portray this character from the person" with first hand experience. "It was a big challenge" James said.
From 2006 to 2007, James who had been asking for the writers to challenge him with a great storyline got the chance to show off his acting chops when his character contracts meningitis and the disease nearly kills him. When Devon starts college, he refuses the recommended immunization shots for the infection. However, the most significant part of the storyline is Devon losing his hearing. Though Devon definitely needs help, he wants to keep everyone at arms length because he wants to deal with the situation on his own. He puts on that tough "exterior." Devon who already has to make his own way in the world due to his chaotic childhood, is forced to re-learn to communicate with his family and friends while starting college. After learning from doctors that surgery is his only option, Devon gets the Cochlear Implant surgery on November 26, 2006. At the time of Devon's meningitis scare, Neil and Dru are on the verge of divorce and it is his illness that brings the Winters family back together. Devon's illness helps them to realize that there a lot more important things to deal with then their "trivial problems." James did a lot of online research to prepare for the storyline about the different levels of severity in meningitis cases, to how much hearing one could lose, to how much of their hearing a person could get back. James also reached out to some of his own real life friends who are deaf to get a feel for what Devon would feel. James compared it to Devon's foster care storyline: "[Y]ou can't completely understand unless you have been through it. Losing any of your senses is difficult. You can act it all you want but to do the best job, it is something you need to explore with someone who really has been through it." James admitted that he was worried about the storyline not knowing if he could completely grasp the situation because he had not experienced it. James had to "wing it." However, Devon is not completely hopeless; he believes anything is possible because of he's already survived so much. Devon does not just accept that he will always be deaf. However, James said it was difficult to ignore his co-stars in scenes as if he could not hear them. Bryton and his co-stars immediately had to learn sign language from an onset coach. Fortunately, Devon can still speak, so James does not have to use sign language that often. The Young and the Restless worked in conjunction with Advanced Bionics for the storyline.
The storyline was revisited in early 2012 when the character's hearing is fully restored due to another surgery. James revealed that Devon's most recent surgery to restore his hearing was actually inspired by real life advances in cochlear implants. His co-star, Eileen Davidson, whom at the time played his stepmother, Ashley Abbott, brought the information to James's attention, who presented the information to Maria Arena Bell. The advances were eventually incorporated into the show. Of the decision to incorporate the real life medical advancements into the story James said, "For it come to fruition and for me to play someone going through is very humbling." The story culminates on April 11, 2012 with Devon getting his new implants activated restoring his hearing completely.
Of the story, James said that Devon's hearing loss was "something you can't really understand unless you experience it, so you just try to the best you can." The actor praised the writers for giving him the opportunity to play the story.
Lineage and inheritance
When Devon was introduced, his paternity was a mystery. In 2009, the character of Virginia (Della Reese), Devon's great aunt was introduced to the canvas. Virginia reveals that Devon's father was not even aware of his existence. In 2011, it was announced that daytime legend Debbi Morgan would join the cast and Yahoo! TV pitched several scenarios for her potential character including a recast of Yolanda, originally played by Chene Lawson or the mother of Tucker McCall (Stephen Nichols)'s. In May 2011, Daytime Confidential confirmed that the character of Devon would be involved in two major stories, one of which hinted at him discovering his paternity. Head writer Scott Hamner said the manner in which Devon's paternity is exposed "leaves a very bad feeling" and Devon is bitter about it because of his prior expectations. Devon is turned off by the "bad judgement" of his new biological relatives, his father Tucker and grandmother Katherine (Jeanne Cooper). He slighted because it takes them so long to find him despite their wealth and power. Additionally, Devon is angry with Katherine because she had recently put him charge of the music division at her company, a job she assured him was based on his talent. However, he quickly realizes that it was because of their biological connection and Devon is insulted.
James requested time off for his honeymoon March 2011 and the producers were forced to tell him about the story plans to convince him to stay. While he had always hoped that Devon's father would be an already established character like Michael Baldwin (Christian LeBlanc) James easily accepted the decision to go with Tucker because of the connection to Katherine, the show's matriarch. James explained that he had discussed the possibility of exploring Devon's paternity with Maria Arena Bell but he was shocked when it led to him being Katherine's grandson. However, the revelation makes Devon feel even closer to his adoptive father, Neil. "Devon always will be Neil's son" James insisted. According to James, it is the character's connection to the Winters family that keeps Devon on the right track when suddenly comes into such wealth. While most people would allow money to change them, James insisted that nothing could ever make Devon turn away from Neil. As a unit, the Winters family was given several stories over the years, but not many of which allowed the family to intermingle with the non African American characters often. Devon's connection to Katherine further removes the family from the proverbial "Black Box" in which the characters only interact with other African American characters. The storyline makes Devon the first biracial character to be introduced in the series and also reflected Bryton's own heritage.
Upon Jeanne Cooper's passing in May 2013 and the subsequent announcement that Katherine's death would soon be acknowledged onscreen, many wondered who would benefit from Katherine's vast empire. Deanna Barnert concluded that Devon would be the biggest winner considering he would be Katherine's only blood relative still on the canvas at the time of Katherine's death. Because Devon's connection to Katherine was still fairly new compared to her other more well established relatives, many wondered exactly how much Devon would benefit compared to Katherine's other and more well established relatives. In an interview with Soaps In Depth's Julie McElwain, James hinted that there was quite a bit of story coming for Devon while McEwin questioned if someone could come after Devon's new inheritance. Devon has no problems using his new wealth to shower his loved ones with expensive gifts, but he is caught off guard when his longtime girlfriend Roxanne (Tatyana Ali) suddenly puts a down payment on a new place for them. The money brings a new dynamic to the relationship and Devon starts questioning Roxy's motives. According to James, Devon feels very guilty for accusing Roxy and though he doesn't really believe she is with him for the money, he would have rather they made a decision like that together. While James insisted that Devon's new wealth would not change him, Devon struggles to keep up with the sudden changes, from billionaire Victor Newman (Eric Braeden) suddenly taking an interest in him to Roxy's decision to move in together, and Mason Wilder (Lamon Archey)'s schemes to suck up to Devon. It would be even harder for Devon to find his "passion" because the money brings him so many more opportunities leaving him a bit overwhelmed.
In the fall of 2016, newly installed head writer Sally Sussman Morina revealed that she felt that Devon's inheritance "left him without drive, without a goal." She continued, "What does he want? What does he strive for? I don't think those questions were ever asked, so we need to fix that."
James appreciated that his character was not immediately thrust into a romance but was instead "given extremely meaningful and big stories over the first nine years." The actor believed it gave the audience time to see Devon's grow into a "believable" leading man. Since his introduction in 2004, Devon had seen very little romantic development. While the character has brief dalliances here and there, he has a stable girlfriend in Roxanne (Tatyana Ali) starting in 2007. However, the couple receives very little development. The character's most controversial story to date involved Devon's affair with his "aunt" Tyra (Eva Marcille). In May 2009 the writers introduced Devon's great-aunt, Virginia (Della Reese) who reveals that Tyra isn't his biological aunt, but was taken in by his grandmother as an infant. In June 2009, Daytime Confidential published a spoiler article which revealed that Devon would begin to develop romantic feelings for Tyra and Devon even fantasizes about kissing her. At the time, Devon is upset with Tyra for breaking up Neil's marriage to Karen Taylor (Nia Peeples). During an argument on August 12, 2009, an angry Devon brings Tyra to tears and when he comforts her, they end up sleeping together; the two are caught by Roxanne. Devon can be a bit judgmental, and some view him a hypocrite because he comes down so hard on Harmony (Yolanda) for sleeping with Tucker, and destroying his marriage. Bryton defends Devon by reminding fans that Devon was only 19 years old when he slept with Tyra, and Devon that is the only big mistake Devon had made in his romantic life. Devon has grown up a bit since his tryst with Tyra. Bryton James regretted the storyline because it made Devon look like a hypocrite when he comes down on his biological parents for having an affair when Tucker is still married.
Devon's most significant and popular pairing proved to be his romantic pairing with Hilary Curtis (Mishael Morgan). The couple faces several obstacles before they even become a couple including Hilary's "denial" of her feelings and Hilary's misunderstood attraction to her boss Jack Abbott (Peter Bergman) which sends Devon into the arms of the gold digging supermodel Esmeralda (Briana Nicole Henry). Jean Passanante said "Esmeralda is unabashedly attracted to Devon's money, perhaps as much as she is to Devon himself." Devon thinks he has missed his chance with Hilary after seeing her with Jack. Writer Shelly Altman insisted that the duo shared a mutual attraction but they would need to overcome yet another and "very surprising obstacle!" That obstacle comes in the form of Hilary's short lived romance and sudden marriage to Neil. James viewed the situation differently then he did Devon's affair with Tyra because at the time, he was very young, still only a teenager when it occurred. In the triangle with Neil and Hilary, Devon is an adult and he can come at Neil as an equal. Despite unflattering circumstances, the pairing was a hit with most fans and critics which James accredited to the writers for "taking the time, and letting the fans get invested in really caring about Devon and Hilary’s feelings for each other." According to James, Devon believes he has found "true love" with Hilary. Devon and Hilary face a long uphill battle once their affair is exposed. James was "thrilled" to finally get the opportunity to play a more "traditional soap" story like Devon and Hilary's affair. Devon and Hilary married in August 2015 with their wedding airing over the course of 4 episodes.
Awards and nominations
Bryton James has received critical acclaim for his portrayal of Devon throughout the years. Bryton was nominated for the Daytime Emmy in the Outstanding Younger Actor category 5 times from 2006 to 2009, and once again in 2013. He won the award in 2007. For his 2009 Emmy nomination, James submitted the scenes of Devon's reaction to losing his little sister, Ana to the foster care system, after interference from his biological mother. Bryton's portrayal of Devon has also garnered him several NAACP Image Award nominations for Outstanding Actor in a Daytime Drama Series, from 2005 to 2009. James won the award in 2009. In 2016, James was nominated for the Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series.
Deanna Barnert of Soap Opera Weekly said "The foster care community has taken note" of the storyline and fans immediately took a liking to James. Soap Opera Digest praised the storyline as the "Best Social Issue" arc for the year 2004. The magazine said, "A social-issue soap story needn't be constorversial or shocking to be effective, as Y&R proved with an intelligent and realistic tale about foster care. Not an inherently 'sexy' topic, the story was nonetheless compelling" specifically due to Victoria Rowell, who played Devon's foster mother Drucilla was so heavily involved in the story. "The result was an involving storyline" that received several accolades. "By allowing for vastly different viewpoints, it wasn't preachy or emotionally manipulative" and like all great soap stories, it added layers to an existing relationship.
He won his first and only Emmy Award in 2007 for his portrayal of Devon during the hearing loss storyline. Despite some thinking the characters picked up sign language too quickly, Bionic Ear experts praised the storyline and James for his portrayal. The storyline also led to increased interests in cochlear implants and provided hope for those dealing with hearing loss. James also thanks and praise from viewers thanking him for his portrayal of Devon's situation. James earned his fifth Emmy nomination in the Outstanding Young Actor category in 2013, for his portrayal of Devon during the scenes where Devon's hearing is completely restored after a new cochlear implant.
Paternity and inheritance
The storyline about Devon's paternity received both positive and mixed criticism. Jae Jones from Yahoo! TV praised the series for reflecting "current times" by making Devon the biracial grandson of one of the show's core characters. Yahoo! TV also hailed the plot as the best reveal of 2011. Wordwiley complimented the series for making an established character like Devon Tucker's son instead of introducing a new character. The author also commented that the dynamic between Katherine, Tucker, Devon and Harmony was rich with potential story. Carolyn Hinsey said Nichols's Tucker was not a strong enough character to hang such a heavy story one. Naomi Rabinowitz appreciated that the plot cemented both Tucker and Devon to the canvas, and that it made for an interesting dynamic pitting Neil vs. Tucker, but disapproved of the constant rewriting of Katherine's history. Luke Kerr said that while he wasn't a big fan of the initial story, he enjoyed seeing Devon and Tucker bond over their shared interest in music. Sara Bibel praised the story arc because it allowed James to showcase his talent, and it provided the very underused character with a storyline, and described the plot twist as a "juicy way of defining" the character. However, Bibel admitted that the execution could have been better. During the week of Devon's paternity reveal, the show gained 282, 000 total viewers rebounding from a previous week of a new ratings low.
In response to Devon's inheritance, Sara Bibel described the plot twist as a "doozy." Bibel praised the twist for "transforming" Devon without having to make him act "out of character." Boone of Soapcentral said "I'm kind of curious to know what Devon's role will be in the future." However, the column also said that Devon has never been a leading character. Others were completely dumbfounded by the twist and said it didn't make any sense. Sara Bibel appreciated that the storyline was the most upbeat of the storylines on the series, but disapproved of Devon's need to maintain his normal way of life; "God forbid we should get to see someone having fun even though aspirational, wish-fulfillment storylines are a daytime staple," Bibel said. Bibel later criticized how instead of having some fun, pursuing his own dreams, or a new business venture, Devon reacts to his inheritance "by feeling guilty about unearned wealth despite being surrounded by people with trust funds." CBS Soaps In Depth also criticized the writing for Devon's reaction due to the money bringing him more misery then happiness. ABC Soaps In Depth said of Devon becoming the go-to-guy for money, "Why are the numerous rich folks of Genoa City treating The Young and the Restless' Devon like their own personal piggybank?"
After nine years with the series, James' character entered into a forbidden relationship with his then stepmother Hilary Curtis that was soon called a supercouple. Critics took notice of the pairing's chemistry in their very first scenes together, long before a romantic relationship was even a possibility. Devon's relationship with Hilary garnered quite a vocal fan base very quickly with the duo debuting on fan polls in both magazines and online. Devon and Hilary would make several year end "best-of" lists in 2014 including Daytime Confidential, TVSource Magazine and the duo was listed as the "Best Couple" of 2014 by Nelson Branco of TV Guide (Canada). The TV Watercooler hailed the pairing as "the show's best new pairing in years." One writer known as Gingersnap appreciated the decision to pair the African American Devon with the African American Hilary and likened them to the Black version of William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. Ashley Ellibe from TVSource Magazine said Devon and Hilary gave fans "the audacity to hope" while simultaneously proving Bryton James' status as a "romantic daytime hunk." Devon and Hilary won the Fan Favorite Award for "Most Romantic Duo" at the 42nd Daytime Emmy Awards in 2015.
Despite the critical acclaim and fan response, fans of the pairing controversially accused the writers of racism, while others accused the producers of underestimating James' appeal as a romantic lead by suddenly pushing Devon aside and rushing Hilary into a romance with Neil and then forcing a triangle. Then executive producer Charles Pratt Jr. sparked further controversy when he attributed the couple's lack of airtime to budgetary restraints and Mishael Morgan's real-life pregnancy.
Devon's previous romances were rather poorly received. Critics and fans were very much against Devon's affair with Hilary a full two months prior story began to play out onscreen. The storyline was compared to fellow CBS soap, Guiding Light's incest storyline in which first cousins, Tammy Winslow (Stephanie Gatschet) and Jonathan Randall (Tom Pelphrey) fall in love and marry. Ironically, Tammy is killed off just days after their wedding. TV Guide listed Devon and Tyra's one-night-stand as the "WORST AFFAIR" of 2009. Naomi Rabinowitz of Soap Opera Digest also disapproved of the storyline and described the dynamic between Tyra and Devon as "creepy " due to their lives being so intertwined and Devon being raised to believe Tyra is his aunt. On the other hand, while Lauren Flynn agreed that the plot was a turn off to viewers due to their relation, Flynn argued that the tryst was a "welcome twist" to an otherwise lackluster storyline. However, Flynn liked that the storyline gave Devon something to do instead of serving as a talk to for Lily. Jamey Giddens who immediately disapproved of the storyline agreed to wait until after the storyline played out and said the plot was "ridiculous," due to their attraction coming out of nowhere. However, a poll posted on Daytime Confidential saw 60% of voters being against the storyline as well. Fans tend to hold Devon's affair with Tyra against the character because of how judgmental he is. Soaps In Depth also praised the decision to put an end to Devon and Roxy's romance, and accused prior regimes of treating James and Ali as glorified day players.
- The Young and the Restless. Season 32. Episode 8321. Tuesday, February 7, 2006. February 7, 2006. CBS.
At the Winters' apartment, Devon came out of his room to find Neil and Dru have decorated the living room for a surprise 18th birthday party.
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