Even if you aren’t a fan of J. August Richards and/or his acting work on ANGEL, AGENTS OF SHIELD, etc., you’ll love this article. It is, quite simply, one of the best showbiz interviews ever. And no, it wasn’t written for Variety, or Deadline, or even Vulture, TVWriter™ found it in a local paper in Maryland. Will C. Franklin of Gazette Net – consider us huge fans:
Prince George’s native Richards talks about Marvel, ‘Agents of SHIELD’ and Deathlok
by Will C. Franklin
Before his Mike Peterson became the deadly Deathlok on ABC’s “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” before his role as the assassin Mr. Blank on the hit CW show “Arrow,” and even before working with Joss Whedon to become a vampire-slaying hero in “Angel,” J. August Richards was just a boy from Prince George’s County who loved comic books and acting.
The acting part came naturally. The comic books came every weekend.
Richards’s long, winding path from Prince George’s County to Hollywood started before he was born, when his parents moved from Panama to Bladensburg.
“I believe we were the second black family to move into that neighborhood,” Richards said. “For me, I had a very diverse upbringing in the area with being exposed to a lot of different people.”
His family made sure there was a lot of culture surrounding Richards in his formative years.
“I grew up in a Spanish-speaking household and it was really very culturally all over the place for me as a child growing up there,” Richards said. “It was very different, but I love the area and I love coming back there as often as I can.”
Growing up, Richards wanted to be an actor. His family, in particular his mother, had other plans for him.
“My mom wanted me to be either a lawyer or a priest,” Richards said. “You kind of hit the jackpot as a Latin American mother if you raise a priest. They had great hopes for me because I had very incredible grades and I was always being put into these talented and gifted programs.”
With top-notch grades, his family was stunned when he said he wanted to be an actor.
“The idea to them was like, ‘What a waste! Why would you want to be an actor?! You have great grades, you’re really intelligent. Why on Earth would you want to be an actor?’” Richards said.
The why was simple — he loved performing and he loved television. When Richards was 14, he convinced his mother to let him go to an acting camp in New York because he knew the casting director for “The Cosby Show” would be there.
Richards met with the director, read for him and was invited to come to NYC to audition for the show.
“I did and I got a part,” Richards said. “From then on, my entire family was like, ‘Um … I think he can actually do this.’ They got on board once I got on ‘The Cosby Show.’”