J August Richards’s acting career began in 1988, when he was spotted by a casting director. This resulted in him getting a guest star role on The Cosby Show as Vanessa’s boyfriend Roy in the season 5 episode “Out of Brooklyn”. Other guest appearances would come later on shows such as The Practice, Chicago Hope, Any Day Now, and Nash Bridges. Playing a rapping bike messenger who believes he is an alien abductee, it was the role of Taj Mahal in the Mark Taper Forum production of Tina Landau’s play Space that first brought recognition.
Richards has appeared in feature films Why Do Fools Fall in Love and Good Burger. He starred in the television movies Critical Assembly and Mutiny, and appeared as singer Richard Street in the NBC miniseries The Temptations. Richards has also guest-starred on The West Wing and The 4400.
Richards gained a starring role beginning in the first season of Angel as Charles Gunn, a street-wise vampire hunter. He remained a member of the cast throughout all five seasons.
Richards has so far been featured in four series as an attorney: Beginning in the first episode of season five of Angel, “Conviction,” Gunn becomes a lawyer after having his brain upgraded with a comprehensive knowledge of the law (both human and dæmonic) by the international and interdimensional law firm Wolfram & Hart. In 2006, Richards joined the cast of NBC’s Law & Order spin-offConviction as Billy Desmond, an undefeated New York City Assistant District Attorney with political aspirations. He has also been featured in CBS’s CSI: Miami as the Floridian attorney Bob Villa, and portrayed attorney Marcus McGrath in the TNT series Raising the Bar until its cancellation.
Richards portrayed a young Richard Webber in two Grey’s Anatomy episodes: “The Time Warp” in season six, and “Only Mama Knows” in season eleven. He also appeared in an episode of The Mentalist. Richards had played the part of Damon in “Just Say Yes”, a 1998 episode of the science fiction television series Sliders. Richards also guest-starred in an episode of Syfy’s Warehouse 13.
Most recently, Jay can be found in Agents of SHIELD as Michael Peterson, aka Deathlok.