‘The Young and the Restless’: Why Victoria Rowell Pushed So Hard For Devon’s Storyline

It’s been years since the origin story of Devon Hamilton-Winters (Bryton Hamilton) came about on The Young and the Restless. Still, his story rings true for many children and teens who’ve gone through similar experiences. His arc wouldn’t have been possible without relentless advocating by former Y&R alum, Victoria Rowell. Here’s why it mattered so much to her.

Devon’s storyline on ‘The Young and the Restless’ rings true for many

Eric Braeden, David Sanders, actors Victoria Rowell, Bryton James and Kristoff St. John
Eric Braeden, David Sanders, actors Victoria Rowell, Bryton James and Kristoff St. John | Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

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In 2004, Bryton James burst onto The Young and the Restless scene as Devon Hamilton. His character, a child in the foster care system, had been sentenced to community service at the Rec Center in fictional Genoa City, Wisconsin. There, he met James’s real-life best friend, Christel Khalil’s character, Lily Winters.

Eventually, Drucilla Winters (Rowell), took Devon in. Around the time Devon contracted meningitis (which caused him to lose his hearing), Dru and husband, Neil (Kristoff St. John), officially adopted Devon.

After other various threads that involved Devon’s mother who was addicted to drugs, Dru’s disappearance, and the discovery of Tucker McCall (Stephan Nichols) — Katherine Chancellor’s long, lost son — as his biological father,

Devon has been through a lot, and that’s only the first few years of his time in the Winters family. Since then, much more has happened. Regardless of where he is now, Devon’s storyline in the foster care system is one that wouldn’t exist if not for Rowell (according to Rowell).

Why Rowell pushed for his story

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Rowell, who left Y&R in 2007, has been vocal about the foster care system, using her platform to educate and advocate.

“I grew up in foster care for 18 years and understand disparity and racism — what poverty looks like,” Rowell said via The Undefeated.

She went on to explain why it’s important to her to continue using her voice, no matter the project she takes on.

“I do my job. No one works between two companies for 22 years not doing their job. I was able to learn and glean a lot from that experience, but at the same time, I thought, I have to do more than collect a check. I have to do my level best too…and if it means creating my own show, all the better. I don’t find it to be a hindrance at all. It has only empowered me and made me stronger.”

One of Rowell’s biggest accomplishments, according to her, is The Rich and The Ruthless — “a fictional story of the first black-run daytime drama in the soap opera industry and is loosely based off her novels The Young and the Ruthless and Secrets of a Soap Opera Diva,” the outlet reported.

“As you know, I’ve had more than 14 years of daytime drama experience beyond The Young and the Restless, but that is the most iconic role that I played in daytime, as Drucilla Winters,” Rowell said.

“I very quickly saw the disparity for African-Americans not only in front but behind the camera and was very active in diversity in the genre of daytime drama television.”

She continued: “So you see, when you’re at the wheel, you can cast the net and hire black. We’re there. That’s a myth, that we don’t exist. Not only do we exist, but we have our union cards as well in some cases, many cases.”

Rowell’s efforts since leaving ‘Y&R’

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Throughout her career, Rowell has been a voice for kids in foster care, telling her story of hope. In 2007, she released the book, The Women Who Raised Me, which told her tales of never being formally adopted by any parents and thus remaining a warden of the state until she aged-out.

While creating new projects for entertainment, she also runs scholarships to “assist foster children in attending dance classes, sports camps, and cultural enrichment programs.”

“Growing up as a foster child, little did I dream that someday I would have my own non-profit organization dedicated to helping foster children,” said Rowell via Look to the Stars.

“I [want to change perceptions and bring national attention to the plight of over 550,000 foster children in this country, many of whom have significant educational and emotional needs, and who have suffered either neglect or physical and emotional trauma. Foster children are good kids. With guidance and instruction, they will be prepared to become self-sufficient, successful adults.”

Rowell may have moved on from Y&R, but Devon’s tragic, yet hopeful, storyline will live forever.

The Young and the Restless airs weekdays on CBS.