Indigenous Style Icon of the Week: Benjamin Bratt

Bratt was born in San Francisco, California, the son of Eldy (née Banda), a nurse, and Peter Bratt, Sr., a sheet metal worker. Bratt’s mother is a Peruvian Indigenous activist of Quechua descent; born in Peru, she moved to the U.S. at age nine. As a child, Bratt went with his mother and siblings to participate in the 1969 Native American occupation of Alcatraz. 

Bratt earned a B.F.A. at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he also joined the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity. He was later accepted into the M.F.A. program at the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco.

Bratt’s best-known role has been that of Detective Reynaldo Curtis on the television show Law & Order. His films include Miss CongenialityBlood in Blood outTrafficLa Mission, Love in the Time of Cholera, Piñero, and Red Planet. In 2009, Bratt performed in The People Speak, a documentary feature film that uses dramatic and musical performances of the letters, diaries, and speeches of everyday Americans, based on historian Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States.

In 1999, he was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series for his work on Law & Order. In 2002, he received the Rita Moreno HOLA Award for Excellence from the Hispanic Organization of Latin Actors (HOLA). He has been nominated for six Screen Actors’ Guild awards, as well as five American Latino Media Arts awards.

Today Bratt is an active supporter of such Native American causes as the American Indian College Fund and We Shall Remain, a mini-series and multi-media project, narrated by Bratt, that establishes Native history as an essential part of American history from PBS’ acclaimed series American Experience. Bratt has for years been a strong supporter and board member of San Francisco Bay Area’s Friendship House Association of American Indians and Native American Health Center.