Richard Gant is probably best known for his role as, the silver streaked boxing promoter, George Washington Duke in “Rocky V,” in which he co-starred with Sylvester Stallone. “George’s” canning zest for success, morphed Richard Gant into a memorable character entrenched in the seedy side of the boxing world. “Sylvester had seen my work and he wanted me for the part. I got a phone call and the next thing I knew I was in Hollywood.” Richard proudly states.
Richard’s statuesque presence combined with his talent and personality provided for a very successful marriage with Hollywood. Some of his more notable films include, “Kingdom Come,” with Whoopi Goldberg and LL Cool J, “ an Irish thriller shot in Belfast, “Divorcing Jack,” Richard also e appeared in the gripping Child Soldier film, ‘Ezra”, shot in Rwanda, East Africa, and the controversial urban drama, “Cover”, by Bill Duke. Back to comedy, Richard recently starred as Colonel Buck in Cuba Gooding’s hilarious “Daddy Day Camp.”
Born in Berkley California, the mid 60’s for an Oakland college student was both tumultuous and culturally edifying. Fully defined by the times, Gant fell in love with theatre through the works of the Harlem Renaissance writers and Langston Hughes and discovered his life’s great passion, theater. The New York Theatre Renaissance was in full bloom demanding the attention of any serious artist. In this atmosphere Richard joined artists from around the country defining cultural and political directions for the new age. He acted in or directed some 35 Off Broadway productions. Notable productions as an actor included, “The Talented Tenth,” The Manhattan Theater Club; “The Playboy of the West Indies ,” The Yale Repertory Company; which led to the role in the original Broadway production, “The Mighty Gents,” with Morgan Freeman and Howard Rollins. In addition to stage performances throughout the New York/New Jersey and Connecticut area, Richard helmed Buffalo’s Paul Robeson Theater as Artistic Director, directed “The World of Ben Caldwell,” for New York’s Henry Street Settlement Theatre, which starred Morgan Freeman, Garrett Morris and Reginald Vel Johnson, and directed the Obie Award winning, “La Grima Del Diablo,” for the famed Negro Ensemble company. “Making films is a great experience but working on the stage creates an unimaginable thrill. It’s you and the audience. No retakes!.” Laments Gant. Later, again with Woody King Jr., Richard would direct the only known recording of Denzel Washington in his career changing portrayal of Malcolm X, in the play “When the Chickens Come Home to Roost.”
The theater is undoubtedly Richard’s first love. It was as early as his college days when he pioneered a multicultural effort directing the “The Lion and The Jewel,” and “Trials of Brother Jero” written by the Nigerian Pulitzer Prize winner, Wole Soyinka Richard Gant met South African writer Duma Ndlovu and his love affair with South Africa began. He and Duma began a trend setting partnership which lasted through four South African/American projects. “Sheila’s Day” was the most successful, ultimately having a very successful Broadway run. While “Sheila’s Day” may have been the most financially successful of these ventures, it was clearly Richard’s directing “The Mandela Letters,” starring Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis, at Lincoln Center that was the most memorable.
Richard was introduced to African American Literature through the works of Langston Hughes, so it was especially memorable to direct his musical “Simply Heavenly”, at the Karamu house Theater (Langston’s Home theater) on his 100 Birthday. The Musical was the centerpiece of Cleveland Ohio’s citywide Langston Hughes Centennial Celebration.
It can be argued Mr. Gant’s most memorable television character is Hostetler in the HBO blockbuster series, “Deadwood.” To the Daytime audiences, enthusiastic fans know and love Richard as Dr Russell Ford, Chief of Staff on America’s longest running soap, “General Hospital.” Richard’s television appearances are as plentiful and varied as his film and theatrical career. Recently he recurred in the popular series “The Chi” and Own Television’s “Greenleaf” opposite Keith David. As a series regular Richard also co-starred in the “Bonnie Hunt Show,” and “Special Unit II” as Captain Richard Page and “Men of a Certain Age,” with Emmy awardees’ Ray Romano and André Braugher. Currently he is finishing the second season of the Sitcom, “Mr. Iglesias” for Netflix Starring Gabriel Iglesias.