Bryton Brings it on!
Actor Bryton, who portrays teen character Devon Hamilton, is an actor itching for a challenge and the Y&R writers gifted him with a whopper! Devon contracted meningitis when he did not get the recommended immunization before starting college. Devon's health hung in balance as his foster family, the Winters, held vigil over him in the hospital. Now he is deaf, with deafness being one of the possible side effects from the deadly infection. A young man struggling to make his way in the world must now re-learn to communicate with his family and friends and try to manuever through his college experience.
Meningitis is a serious, sometimes fatal, infection causing inflammation of the membranes that protect the brain and spinal cord. Viral infections are the most common causes of meningitis. Bacterial infections are more serious. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), there are nearly 3000 cases of meningococcal meningitis in the U.S. every year, 10-12 % of which are fatal. Those who survive may experience long-term consequences such as brain damage, kidney disease, hearing loss or limb amputations. It is often recommended that adolescents be immunized at age 11-12 for this type of meningitis, which is highly contagious. However, the vaccine does not protect people against meningococcal disease caused by "type B" bacteria, which causes one-third of meningococcal cases.
The number of meningitis cases has seen the largest increase in adolescents over the past decade. College freshman who live in close quarters are at an increased risk as their immune systems can be weakened by a college lifestyle, which often involves late nights, partying, or social and educational stress.
We caught up with Bryton on the set and talked to him about his feelings on this groundbreaking storyline.
How did you find out about this meningitis storyline?
"Actually, I approached the writers. I went to the office because I was getting anxious for some juicy storyline and they always have good stuff percolating up there. They told me that I was going to get meningitis and there would be a lot of changes, not only my character, but the whole family as well. I love the work so much."
What kind of research did you do?
"I researched a lot online about different people who have had meningitis and different levels of hearing you can lose, how much hearing may come back. I also have a few friends who have been deaf for a long time. I really wanted to try and get a feel for what it would be like. It is very much like my Foster child storyline, you 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. It is an incredible challenge!"
Do you think this will help heal the Winters' rift?
"I think this is a good thing to see that all the trivial problems that the Winters are going through are just not that important compared to something like this."
On interacting with Kristoff, Victoria and Davetta…
"I am working with some incredible actors! And they are doing a great job of portraying what a mom, a dad, a sibling would feel in a situation like this. The guilt, the frustration, putting on a happy face for Devon, you see it all and it really makes the audience feel like they are a part of it."
"Devon struggles a lot more with then he lets on. He believes that things are going to get better but at the same time, he doesn't want to be treated different. He doesn't want to feel like a handicapped person."