American actor J August Richards, best known for his role as a vampire slayer in Angel, has come out as gay.
The 46-year-old is currently playing a gay doctor on NBC’s new show Council of Dads. His character, Dr Oliver Post, is a dad who is a father figure to the children of a friend who has died from cancer.
He said: ‘One of the things that I find so fascinating about Oliver is that we have never had anybody like him on network television.
‘He’s a black, gay professional, married to another man who is also a black, gay professional. This has never happened before on television.’
‘I wanted that image to be honest’
Richards came out on an Instagram Live with Council of Dads co-star Sarah Wayne Callies. And he said his Dr Post character inspired him to open up about his sexuality.
Indeed, Richards feels coming out now is his responsibility.
He explained: ‘If I think about why I even got involved in this industry, it was really to combat oppression. I knew how I was affected by the people of color I saw on television or that I didn’t see on television.
‘So this being a married gay man with a family… I realized that on television I don’t take anything I do lightly.
‘You have an opportunity to put an image into millions of homes. And I wanted that image to be honest and I wanted it to be correct.
‘So honestly, it required me to show up fully in a way that I don’t always when I’m working.
‘I knew that I could not portray this gay man honestly without telling you all that I was a gay man myself.
‘I’ve never done that with the people that I worked with. I knew how important it is to other people out there like me, who would need to see that role model.’
Angel and Agents of SHIELD star
Richards started as a child actor on The Cosby Show in 1988.
But his fame grew when he played Vampire hunter Charles Gunn in Angel. He was a recurring character on the Buffy the Vampire Slayer spin-off for four seasons between 2000 and 2004.
He has also appeared as a regular character in Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD, Notorious and Kevin (Probably) Saves the World. Meanwhile he’s also been in some of US TV’s biggest shows, including The West Wing and Grey’s Anatomy.