Richard Bryant has spent his summer surfing in Santa Monica, going to a few auditions, and dealing with life as a regular on a nationally-broadcast hit TV show.
"I was discussed on The View," says the 23-year-old Bryant, who was raised in Charleston. "Catherine Bell was on there, talking about Army Wives and my character. That's when it hit me, that everything was such a big deal."
On the Lifetime series he plays bad boy Jeremy Sherwood, who responds to pressure from his military dad by lashing out at his mom. In real life he's a charming Lowcountry lad who wouldn't hurt a flea.
"I was always outgoing and wanted to be in front of people," says Bryant, "Bubba" to his friends. "I was in a boys' choir for a while, and I did summer art camp at middle school." There he got hooked on acting, which led to a major role on the theatre program at the School of the Arts and parts in Charleston Stage shows like The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Cheaper by the Dozen.
"The most nervous I've been is in my first Dock Street Theatre show," he says, "where people had paid to watch it. Knowing the lines and having confidence got me over that." Bryant equates the adrenaline rush of acting with playing sports. "You're focused on the moment, as opposed to worrying about what other people are thinking."
After a year and a half studying at the College of Charleston, Bryant got a quick gig as "Stoner #1" on One Tree Hill and discovered that he could make some serious moolah in a TV role. When he auditioned for Touchstone's Army Wives last year, he didn't recognize the director and chatted to him casually. His relaxed manner helped him get the job.
Since then, Bryant's made such an impression on the producers and viewers that his character has been kept alive — in the original book, Tanya Biank's Under the Sabers, the abusive son commits suicide.
"I dodged a bullet," he shrugs, still humble despite his growing fame and good fortune. He'll be back in Charleston to shoot three new episodes in time for Thanksgiving. Until then, he'll keep auditioning out west. "It's great to be able to live and work in Charleston," he says, "but if I get a name for myself on something else that's good, then people can recognize me for more than one thing. That's my objective." — Nick Smith