I’m sure the loss of Kristoff St. John is a hard subject for you, but I have to commend you on your work during the week of his funeral. There seemed to be very little acting that was done. All of that seemed like very real and raw emotions.
Yeah, very much so. Probably a week before we filmed those funeral scenes, we all went to his Kristoff’s real funeral with all of his friends and family. Being there at his real one didn’t seem like it was real. It didn’t seem like it was final. There was something about it that was hard to accept. That was it. We weren’t going to see him. We weren’t going to see him come to set, he wasn’t going to come through the door. We weren’t going to feel his energy.
But when we got on to set to do those funeral scenes, it really hit all of us here in a way that I don’t think any of us really expected. I didn’t, anyway. Especially seeing Christel’s performance. I don’t know how she did it. We were holding on to each other between and during those scenes. We couldn’t hide it. But I think the show did a good job and everybody involved. All of the actors really fought through a lot of emotions to make a tribute. To do it right.
Shemar Moore talked about how the speech written for Malcolm was almost exactly what he would have said. How well would you say the writers captured your real emotions for the words Devon gave?
I think they did a great job. I know for a couple of the scenes – especially the one where I saw his ghost in my penthouse – they gave me the liberty to add some stuff and make it a little bit my own. Same with my speech at the funeral. The show, this is where we grew up. They know the storylines. They know our history and the characters of Neil and Devon. I think for the most part they did a great job at saying the things that I would have said, but at the same time they did give us the freedom to say what we wanted to say.
Acting out your real life grief couldn’t have been easy. How are YOU doing? How are you grieving? What is your support system like?
I’m doing well, thank you. I appreciate you asking me that. I have a great support system. I’ve had great parents that from a very young age have made me very mentally strong to deal with anything that life throws at me. I was taught from a young age that no matter what you go through in life, whether you’re happy about something or sad about something or mad about something, you make a choice what to do with it. It’s not the thing that’s making you feel that way, it’s you.
I was taught to always find the positives and that’s how I try to live life. It takes practice. Sometimes it takes more practice for some than others. Everybody’s different. I had some practice myself when my real father passed away in 2016 from a heart attack. He was only 54. So I definitely had to go through some stuff myself. And it helped in preparation for dealing with this loss too. But yeah, I’m very okay. Also the lessons I learned from Kristoff everyday.
You couldn’t imagine what he’s gone through in his life and losing a child the way he did and having the past that he had. And for him to come to work every day and bring that kind of levity and joy and happiness that he did. I never saw him come to work when he wasn’t like that, when he didn’t choose to put a smile on his face and share that with everybody around him. I’ve had some great examples on how to cope and deal with what life throws at you.
With Neil, Hilary and essentially Lily gone, has there been any talks of maybe bringing Harmony and/or Tucker back if only for a visit?
Not to my knowledge. I always try and ask the writers and throw around the idea of having those characters come back. I know they would probably love to have them if they were available. But there’s a lot of factors. Actors having other schedules and living on different coasts. I think Stephen Nichols is tied to Days still. But I would love nothing more than to have some of those characters come back onto the canvas and get to work alongside them again and learn from them. It was such a privilege to have them and for me to be a part of their family.
When it comes to representation, the Winters are really the only constant black family on any of the remaining soaps and now the core of that is all but gone. As you said, Devon is pretty much all we have left. Do you feel any pressure carrying the legacy of such an important family?
I feel the importance of it, but I don’t take it as pressure. I’m anxious for it and proud to do it. It makes me want to step up and do it. Even more so knowing what my role is seen as now. I am excited for it. I’m excited to do my best and to take all the things that I learned from Victoria Rowell and Shemar and Kristoff and Christel and try to carry that on the best way I can. I trust the writers and the people that we have in charge of the show, which we couldn’t be happier about. They know what they’re doing. They know the history and the legacy that they’re writing for when it comes to myself and the Winters family. The only thing I can do is the best I can in trying to bring the story to life and make it seem real. I’m excited for it. And it’s an honor really. It’s really an honor to do it.
Getting into some of the familial aspects of Devon, he and Nate are the adoptive sons of Neil and Malcolm. Brothers who often had a tumultuous relationship. We saw signs of Devon and Nate repeating this pattern when Devon blamed Nate for Hilary’s death. Will we see more of them as rivals?
Yeah, I think eventually you’re going to see it. Especially after the will reading. It’s a drama. So there’s gonna be some friction between us. No relationship just stays smooth on the show. I think there’s definitely room for that to happen, for these two to butt heads. As you said, there’s a good foundation for it because Nate is a character that was somewhat involved in the death of Hilary and then pushed so hard to stick his nose into Devon’s life when he was first going through his grieving. So, I would expect some fireworks.