Born in Washington, D.C., and raised in the Maryland suburb of Bladensburg, Richards discovered his love for acting at an early age and enrolled in a performing arts high school where he appeared in several plays a year. Academically confident and determined to move out to Los Angeles to pursue his acting aspirations, Richards applied to only one college - the University of Southern California (USC). Not only was he accepted, he also won numerous scholarships and grants to study theater. Upon graduation from USC, Richards began working steadily in film, television and theater. Playing a rapping bike messenger who believes he is an alien abductee in the Mark Taper Forum's (Los Angeles) production of "Space," he began to earn recognition and rave reviews.
Richards was introduced to fans of "Angel" during the series' first season the rogue, street-savvy vampire hunter Charles Gunn. In season five, his character was transformed into a "take-no-prisoners" lawyer at the evil law firm Wolfram and Hart. In "Conviction," Richards returns to the "letter of the law" in his role as Billy Desmond, an ambitious and brilliant assistant district attorney who does not lose.
On the big screen, Richards has appeared in the feature films "Why Do Fools Fall in Love?" and "Good Burger." He also starred in the television movies "Critical Assembly," "The Temptations" and "Mutiny." Richards also guest-starred on "The Practice," "Chicago Hope," "The Cosby Show" and "Any Day Now." Last summer, Richards won critical notices in Kenneth Lonergan's "Lobby Hero" at the prestigious Old Globe Theatre.
Says that his mother didn't want him to become an actor; instead, she had hopes of him becoming a lawyer or a priest. In the final season of "Angel" (1999), Gunn got a special brain spell and became a top Wolfram & Hart lawyer. In "Conviction" (2006) he played a lawyer again, this time at the DA's Office. He then played a prosecutor again on "Raising the Bar" (2008).
Named #10 of the Top Ten Sexiest Men of the Buffy / Angel universe in a fan poll by Bufy the Vampire Slayer fanzine (2004).
He is of Panamanian descent.
Thinks the best TV series is "The Wire," but his personal favorite TV series is "Three's Company.".
"It is kind of grandiose, isn't it? I changed my name at 14 because no one outside of my family could pronounce my first name correctly. My parents are from Panama, and so there's a primary AND a secondary stress on my first name, Jaime, so it sounds like HIGH-MAY. And my middle name is actually Augusto [Ah-GOOS-toe], so that's tough too. The funny thing is, I have so many nicknames that no one calls me by my given name anyway. Still, I have thought about changing it just to Jay Richards." - Jay in an interview with EW. (regarding his given name)
[on his role as Charles Gunn on "Angel":] "What's ironic is that I don't think race ultimately had anything to do with me getting the part. When I auditioned, I heard that they were looking at white guys, Latino guys, Asian guys, so they didn't know where they were going with it."
[on his role as Charles Gunn on "Angel":] I don't think my parents were too happy when I announced that I wanted to be an actor. And then when I told them I was starring in a show about vampires, they were like, 'Couldn't you at least get a role as a nice lawyer or something.' My Mom always wanted me to be a lawyer or a priest. I think they were a little bit surprised by my career choice. [March 18, 2003]
[on his role as Charles Gunn on "Angel":] When I change my lines, I just deliver them and wait for their reaction. I just kind of ad-lib sometimes and they'll pull me back or they'll just let it go. When they have a problem with it, they tell me. It's not that I have to change much, because they usually get it right. I'm glad they don't dumb him down and make him say stupid things. [March 18, 2003]
[on his role as Charles Gunn on "Angel":] Gunn is an activist, a renegade vampire hunter who leads his motley crew of fellow hunters on a personal crusade of execution for reasons that the audience is not yet aware of. He is a tormented soul and a lone ranger, much like Angel, but he has adopted a family of lost and disenfranchised who he will protect at any cost. It's almost like he's two people in one, a violent and aggressive warrior, but also someone who desires family and people close to him. [March 18, 2003]
[on his role as Charles Gunn on "Angel":] Everybody on the set is fantastic and there are so many interesting people. I absolutely love working with David Boreanaz, and Charisma Carpenter I completely adore -- she teaches me to dance. She's definitely one of my favorite people on the set. And Alexis Denisof is such a dynamic actor. He's phenomenal. There is so much I can see happening to this character [Gunn], it makes me excited to think about all the ways he can branch out. Charles is a fantastic character. I really love his spirit. He's so pure and clean and unaffected. I love the extent to which he goes to protect the people he loves. I find that fascinating and admirable. [March 18, 2003]
Gunn, like me, has a James Bond obsession. He would love to be James Bond, and it's a great role that I would love to be, someday.
(June 2005) In the play "Lobby Hero" at San Diego's Old Globe, May 21 - June 26, 2005.
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