|Birth Date||December 16, 1963|
|Birth Place||San Francisco, California, USA|
Actor Benjamin Bratt is probably best known for his role as Detective Rey Curtis in the 1995 to 1999 seasons of Law & Order. He most recently starred in the television military drama "E-Ring" as Major Jim "JT" Tisnewski.
His mother is a Quechua Indian from Lima, Peru, and Benjamin grew up around Native American activists, even taking part as a child in a protest which for over a year took over Alcatraz Island (1969) after Indian activists enacted a treaty which allowed them to take possession of unoccupied federal land. He remains an active supporter of the United Indian Nations, the AICF, and other minority programs. As well as his successful mainstream career, since 1996 he has been co-producing films to combat these issues in Hollywood with his brother.
- The idea of fair and equal representation for people of color in this business is a joke. How can we as artists remain optimistic about our prospects when the personification of this industry is an overpampered, self-satisfied, middle-aged white male whose only contact with people of color is the people who clean his house? We can't. We can no longer wait for, nor can we fairly expect, someone outside our experience to tell our stories for us. The fact is there is such a wealth of stories within America's various non-Eurocentric subcultures that it's only a matter of time before they emerge and get told.
While as far as we know he has never candidly spoken publicly on the subject, the otherwise unimpressive Madonna film The Next Best Thing (2000) revealed more than expected as you can see in these screencaps:
While other Web sites debate whether these are actually scars from nipple removal of superfluous nipples, BME readers should recognize them for what they are — scars from an O-Kee-Pa style suspension or Sun Dance scars. While they slipped into The Next Best Thing, they are normally digitally removed from his films (as in Miss Congeniality). Benjamin stays discreet about his scars, saying little but acknowledging them:
- The scars were not added for the character in The Next Best Thing. They are mine and they are personal.
Could Benjamin be responding perhaps to the criticism the scars had already generated? To give an example, here are two excerpts from typical reviews of The Next Best Thing:
- ...when women in the crowd I saw this movie with were whispering about what a cutey he is, he took off his shirt, and the whispers turned to bewilderment... no one could decipher why his bank investor character had odd scars/burns/welts on his chest... I have a feeling the steam was let out just then.
- ...when you toss in Bratt's pectorals, The Next Best Thing looks less like a movie and more like some genetic-engineering student's senior project, although one from a two-bit college in the Caribbean ... Bratt displays some great big symmetrically-spaced welts on his chest that are either birthmarks or scars from some wild lovemaking involving a hot waffle iron in a scene that was cut to keep the PG-13 rating.
Is it really any surprise that Benjamin has chosen to keep this part of his life a secret? In a world that barely tolerates Native Americans, let alone Native American actors, he knows perfectly well that this could easily be used by bigots to destroy his career.