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.


Ato has been in over 20 feature films working with legendary directors such as Martin Scorcese, Quentin Tarantino and Edward Zwick. He's starred opposite the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio, Will Smith and Lucy Liu. For a complete filmography, click here.

Upcoming Projects


From Martin Scorsese, Mick Jagger and Terence Winter, this new drama series is set in 1970s New York. A ride through the sex- and drug-addled music business at the dawn of punk, disco, and hip-hop, the show is seen through the eyes of a record label president, Richie Finestra, who is trying to save his company and his soul without destroying everyone in his path.


Elementary is an American crime drama series that presents a contemporary update of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's character Sherlock Holmes. The series stars Jonny Lee Miller as Sherlock Holmes and Lucy Liu as Dr. Joan Watson.

Blue Bloods

Blue Bloods is an American police procedural drama series shown on CBS which follows the Irish-American Reagan family of police officers with the New York City Police Department (NYPD).

Photography by Lelund Durond Thompson for YellaFella Fotography



LIVE with Kelly

Ato talks 'Jason Bourne' on Live with Kelly.

LIVE with Kelly Interview

Talking 'Jason Bourne' (Bourne 5) on Live with Kelly along with guest host Jerry O'Connell.

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HBO's Vinyl

Ato portrays Blues Singer Lester Grimes

HBO's Vinyl

Ato portrays Lester Grimes, blues singer turned manager, in the first season of HBO's Vinyl.

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BBC America Featurette

Three Questions with the star of BBC's Copper

BBC America Interview

Settle in, and make a cuppa: it's 3 Questions, 2 Biscuits and 1 Cup of Tea... with ATO ESSANDOH, star of BBC America's breakthrough original drama series COPPER.

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Copper Set Tour

Go behind the scenes of BBC's Hit Show

Behind the Scenes Tour

Get an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at the COPPER set with a special tour of Dr. Freeman's Office by star ATO ESSANDOH (Django Unchained, Elementary) and series Production Designer TONI IANNI.

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#intheLab Interview

Internet Media Lab Talks with Ato

#intheLab Interview

Actor Ato Essandoh from BBC America's "Copper" joins Arthur Kade #inthelab to talk about what it is like playing a black doctor in New York city circa 1865. Also appearing on CBS' "Elementary" he talks about working with one of his favorite actresses, Lucy Liu as well as working with director Quentin Tarantino in "Django Unchained."

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