She will recur as Allyson Del Lago, a tough but understanding physical therapist who helps one of Nashville’s series regulars through one of their most difficult challenges.
Richards’ casting is significant, as she is the network’s first out transgender actor and will play its first transgender character.
Richards recently scored an Emmy nomination for co-creating, writing and producing her digital series, Her Story. In the series, which launched in 2015, she plays Violet, a trans woman new to Los Angeles who begins to develop feelings toward a reporter (Laurie Zak) doing interviews for a LGBT publication.
The new season will consist of 22 episodes and will feature returning series regulars Connie Britton, Hayden Panettiere, Charles Esten, Sam Palladio, Jonathan Jackson, Clare Bowen, Lennon Stella, Maisy Stella and Chris Carmack. Not returning to the fold are Will Chase and Aubrey Peeples.
ET caught up with Britton at the ATX Television Festival in Austin, Texas, where she praised Nashville fans for keeping the show alive.
"That was an example of fans being really enthusiastic and we really owe that all to the fans," Britton said in June. "The same [happened] with Friday Night Lights and Nashville is experiencing the same good fortune."