‘The Young and the Restless’: Christel Khalil and Bryton James Actually Knew Each Other Long Before the Hit Daytime Drama

Bryton James and Christel Khalil are two of daytime’s favorite siblings. Their stint on The Young and the Restless has opened up many important storylines including foster care, and loss. The hit daytime soap isn’t the first time James and Kahlil have worked together. In fact, they go way back.

Bryton James and Christel Kahlil on losing their TV dad, Kristoff St. John

The Young and the Restless
Bryton James, Mishael Morgan, Shemar Moore, Christel Khalil, Kristoff St. John, and Daniel Goddard | Sonja Flemming/CBS via Getty Images

Since 2002, Christel Khalil has played the role of Lily Winters (Romalotti/Ashby) on The Young and the Restless. She began the series when she was just 15 years old. Two years later, the story arc of Devon Hamilton/Winters came along, adding a new layer the Winters family.

Lily and Devon had a rocky start to their relationship under the guidance of parents Drucilla Winters (Victoria Rowell), and Neil Winters, played by the late Kristoff St. John.

Rowell left the series in 2007, but returned for a one-episode tribute to St. John in 2019, following his sudden death which was due to an undiagnosed condition, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.

When news broke of St. John’s passing, many of Y&R‘s stars took to social media to express their grief, including James and Khalil.

“As one of the lucky people to have experienced Kristoff’s spirit, love & talent first hand. I can only say thank you forever for loving me, guiding me, protecting me, & for teaching me every day how to choose to find the levity in life no matter what. I will never stop making you proud. I love you. My man,” James captioned a photo of he and St. John on Instagram.

Khalil’s response is a bit lengthier, revealing just how hard it was to say goodbye to her TV dad of 17 years.

“I’ve been thinking for a while what to say. How to express my love and gratitude for Kristoff in my life. I don’t know if I can ever fully express how my heart feels. I’m so heartbroken. I’m mad, sad, confused…but I understand. I’m thankful you’re not in pain anymore, such a deep pain that no one could understand,” she said in her Instagram post.

“No parent should have to bury their child, I’m sorry you had to. I’m sorry you’ve been hurting so much…You were one of a kind. I’ll never forget you were the first person who took me under your wing when I joined Y&R. You were the one who when I had my screen test, you helped me, made me feel connected and comfortable,” she said.

The actress added that St. John is the reason she got the role of Lily and that it changed her life forever.

“Between our deep conversations about religion to your goofy dad jokes, you’ve always had a special place in my heart. A place where a father should have been…I’m grateful I got to know you and share some of my most important moments of life with you. You will never be forgotten. I love you. I love you…” she added.

Here’s how James and Khalil spent their younger years together

For seven years, James played the role of Richie Crawford on the sitcom, Family Matters. He began the show at just 4 years old. By the time he hit 10, a guest appearance by a relative newcomer would change his fate forever.

In 1996, a then 9-year-old Khalil appeared on Family Matters as Angela in a one-episode stint. It was only Khalil’s fourth credit, after Matilda, The Sinbad Show, and Dragon Fury, according to IMDb.

“It was actually the eighth episode in the eighth season in an episode called ‘The Karate Kid,'” James previously told Soap Opera Digest. “If anybody wants to check it out, it’s on Hulu.”

James and Khalil became fast friends and eventually, fictional siblings on Y&R. They’re so close, James was a member of Kahlil’s wedding party and is the godparent to Khalil’s son, Caden.

Khalil’s other real-life best friend is someone fans might never expect

Aside from James and Khalil’s close friendship off the set of Y&R, some may find it surprising she has another tight friendship with an on-set enemy. Mishael Morgan (who played Hilary from 2013-2020) and Kahlil are “best friends,” according to Khalil.

“Whenever we post pictures together, people are like ‘What? I don’t understand! You guys are supposed to hate each other?!'” Khalil previously told The TV Water Cooler.

“I like the whole dynamic that Lily and Hilary have got going on. It’s a throwback to Dru (Rowell) and Phyllis (Michelle Stafford), who were always bumping heads and hating each other!” she said.

“It’s also fun to play since we like each other in real life, so much so that we’re always cracking up after filming the scenes. It’s so hilarious to us. I like what they’re doing with it.”

The Young and the Restless airs weekdays on CBS.