Born on a Saturday in late July in Schenectady New York, the first child of Ebow and Monica Essandoh did not have an official name. Ghanaian custom dictated that the new parents wait a week before divining a name during a traditional ceremony. Seven days hence, "Baby Boy Essandoh" became Ato Essilfi Bracato Essandoh. "Ato" meaning Saturday born, "Essilfi" after his grandfather, a beloved school teacher in Ghana, and finally "Bracato" a designation meaning "warrior."
While studying Chemical Engineering at Cornell University, Ato was dared by his college sweetheart to perform in a play. Years later, Ato still marvels at the experiences and opportunities that have been afforded to him since that fateful performance at Cornell.
From his beloved role as Titembay the affable and fastidious African exchange student in the indie classic GARDEN STATE; to his break out-role as Matthew Freeman, the brilliant Civil War doctor of BBC America's gritty crime series COPPER; to recurring roles on hit shows like HBO's GIRLS, and CBS’ ELEMENTARY and BLUE BLOODS; to unforgettable turns in critically acclaimed films like DJANGO UNCHAINED and BLOOD DIAMOND, Ato has and continues to amass a broad and diverse range of roles proving himself to be a sought after emerging talent.