By Jessica Michele Herring ( | First Posted: Sep 28, 2013 02:15 PM EDT

During PBS’ LATINO AMERICANS session at the Television Critics Association Summer Press Tour in Los Angeles, CA on Wednesday, August 7, 2013, Benjamin Bratt, Rita Moreno, Ray Suarez and executive producer Adriana Bosch examine the rich and varied history of Latinos in the United States. (Premieres Tuesdays, September 17 to October 1, 2013, 8:00-10:00 p.m. ET)

All photos in this set should be credited to Rahoul Ghose/PBS.

Fans may know actor Benjamin Bratt from a string of successful shows and Hollywood films. While he has often played Latino, and even Native American characters, his real-life heritage is rarely depicted on the silver screen. 

Benjamin Bratt's mother is a Quechua Indian from Peru and his father is an American of English, German and Austrian descent. Bratt highly values his Peruvian Indian heritage and follows in his mother's footsteps by fighting for the rights of Native Americans. 

Benjamin Bratt was born in San Francisco in 1963 as the third of five children, according to His mother, a Peruvian Quechua Indian, hailed from Lima, Peru and moved to the U.S. at age 14. His father was a sheet-metal worker, and the son of Broadway actor George Bratt. His parents divorced in 1968. 

In 1969, Bratt's mother, a Native American activist, participated in the takeover of Alcatraz Island in San Francisco. She brought Bratt (who was only five-years-old at the time) along, in addition to his brothers and sisters. Bratt has said that they went to Alcatraz two or three times a week for over a year. 

Bratt did not break into acting until he went to college at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He began to attend the American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco, but ended up leaving the program to begin his acting career at the Utah Shakespearean Festival. 

Bratt's debut film roles came in 1990 with the films "Bright Angel" and "Chains of Gold," in which he played a drug dealer, alongside Joey Lawrence and John Travolta. He also had supporting roles in "One Good Cop" (1991), "Bound by Honor" (1993) and "Demolition Man" (1993).

Bratt finally gained Hollywood's attention in 1994 when he played a Native American ranger in "In the River Wild." He then protrayed a field officer for American soldiers sent to the Colombian countryside in "Clear and Present Danger." He was then cast as the lead in the ABC miniseries, "James A Michener's Texas" in 1995. He later starred on "Law and Order" until 1999. 

Bratt was known for his high-profile romance with Julia Roberts, which ended in July 2001. He was also named one of People's "50 Most Beautiful" in the May 10, 1999 issue.

His film roles continued in 2000 with "The Next Best Thing," which costarred Madonna and Rupert Everett. That same year, he starred opposite Sandra Bullock in the popular romantic comedy, "Miss Congeniality." He also had a small part in "Traffic," then co-starred in "Catwoman" with Halley Berry and Sharon Stone in 2003. 

Bratt married actress-model Talisa Soto in April 2002. That same year, he won a Rita Moreno HOLA Award for Excellence.

He continues to stay connected to his Native Peruvian roots. Like his mother, he believes in sociopolitical justice for native peoples, and is active in Native American issues. He is involved in the American Indian Friendship House in Oakland, CA. 

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