Ato Essandoh: From Schenectady To Scorsese

How the actor went from the Electric City to working with Hollywood’s greatest directors.

Schenectady native Ato Essandoh, seen here at the opening night of West Side Story on Broadway this past February, has acted both in blockbuster films and hot new TV series.

It’s always a surprise when you find out an actor or actress you’ve seen on the big screen is from your neck of the woods—especially when your neck of the woods is humble Schenectady. Some Schenectadian glitterati we’ve covered in the past include the late Ann B. Davis (The Brady Bunch) and actor Mickey Rourke (The Wrestler). 

Another superstar to add to the ranks? Ato Essandoh, a Ghanaian-American actor best known for his roles in Jason Bourne, Blood Diamond and Garden State, who was born in the Electric City in 1972. After attending New Rochelle High School in Westchester County, he went on to study chemical engineering at Cornell University. It was at Cornell that Essandoh got his first taste of acting; during his junior year, his college sweetheart encouraged him to audition for a play on campus. “I’ll never forget coming on stage and hearing people laugh, feeling them connect, hanging on every word we said,” Essandoh told Cornell’s alumni magazine.

After college, Essandoh began studying at The Acting Studio in New York City and landed his first TV role as an injured bike messenger on NBC’s Third Watch in 2001. Since then, the Capital Regionite has worked with directors Quentin Tarantino and Martin Scorsese on Django Unchained and HBO’s Vinyl, respectively, and has also appeared in HBO’s Girls, Netflix’s Altered Carbon and blockbuster X-Men: Dark Phoenix. 

Now, that’s electric.

Simone Teague

Simone Teague is an Editorial Assistant at saratoga living.


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