Known for his versatility, Raúl Esparza is an American stage and television actor, singer as well as a voice artist. He is best known for his role as New York Assistant District Attorney, Rafael Barba in Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.


He was born as Raúl Eduardo Esparza in Wilmington, Delaware, US on 24 October 1970 and raised in Miami, Florida. He attended Belen Jesuit Preparatory School where he graduated from in 1988. His ethnicity is Cuban American. His interest in acting was one he developed from an early age and which he pursued as a career subsequently. He had wanted to become a lawyer but had his course changed when he started acting in high school.

The encouragement from his parents further pushed him to the path of his career. He says his parents understood that life was short and one should do what one loves.

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The same year of his graduation from high school, Raul won a Silver Knight Award in Drama. When he got to the university, he became involved in a lot of theatre productions. He graduated from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Drama and a Bachelor’s degree in English.


Raúl Esparza

Raúl Esparza’s career started on stage in his hometown of Miami, Florida. He made his professional debut in the 1989 premiere of Luis Santeiro’s Mixed Blessings at the Coconut Grove Playhouse. He portrayed Che in the national tour of Evita, opposite Natalie Toro in 1993. He worked at Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre from 1996-97 and also at the Ahmanson in Los Angeles.

Raúl then forged a starring Broadway career in musicals and plays and has won several accolades for his excellent performances. Coming to New York, he caught the attention of the public with his performance as Riff Raff in the 2000 Broadway revival of The Rocky Horror Show.

His acting credits include Cabaret (2001), as Philip Salon in Taboo (2003), as Robert in Company (2006), Leap of Faith, Acardia, as an aggressive volatile movie producer in Speed-the-Plow (2007), and as a lazy and snarky man in The Homecoming (2008).

He is highly regarded for his versatility and as such has appeared in musicals, plays and films. He played the role of Caractacus Potts in the musical Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (2005) and appeared in two Stephen Sondheim musicals at the 2002 Kennedy Center Sondheim Celebration, Sunday in the Park with George and Merrily We Roll Along.

Off-Broadway, he has appeared in The Normal Heart, Comedians and tick, tick… BOOM! (2001) by Jonathan Larson. He played Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night in Central Park and ENCORES Anyone Can Whistle.

In films, he has to his credit – Sidney Lumet’s Find Me Guilty and Wes Craven’s My Soul to Take. His television works include roles in A Gifted Man, Pushing Daisies, Medium, 666 Park Avenue. He stars as A.D.A. Barba on Law & Order: SVU and as Dr Frederick Chilton on Hannibal. He left his role as Barba in February 2018 after six seasons, stating that he misses the theatre and wants to return.

In addition to his numerous roles, he narrated Stephen King’s Under the Dome audiobook.


For his many roles and versatile performances, Raúl Esparza has many awards and nominations in different categories. Since 2004, he has received Tony Award nominations in every male acting category: best-featured actor in a musical (Taboo), best actor in a musical (Company in 2007), best-featured actor in a play (The Homecoming in 2008) and best actor in a play (Speed-the-Plow in 2009).

His many awards include the OBIE, the New York Outer Critics Award, the Barrymore, the LA Ovation Award, the HOLA José Ferrer Acting Award, the Theatre World Award and three Drama Desk Awards.

Raúl Esparza Family, Married

He was born to Cuban expatriates as an only child. His father was from a family of engineers and it was only natural for him to become an engineer. His mother has a handful when it comes to working as she seems to be always doing so – working. If she was not in the banking hall as a banker, she is working as an interior designer or a travel agent.

His family was one who moved a lot and not only that, his parents fought too. America García Pell, his maternal grandmother moved in with them when he was 5, and provided unconditional love he couldn’t get from his folks and practically raised him.

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In 1993, he married his high school sweetheart, Michele Marie Perez but divorced in 2008. Why? The divorce happened two years after he revealed his sexual orientation as bisexual and that he engages in the same-sex relationship, in the New York Times profile in 2006. That could be a possible reason or a contributing factor to the split.

Raúl Esparza
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Is Raúl Esparza Gay? Boyfriend

As earlier stated, the Hannibal actor revealed that he engages in same-sex relationships and is bisexual. Thus, he can be classified as gay.

When he was a sophomore in college, he fell in love with a male instructor, a composer, who was only a few years older than him.  following his graduation, the man helped him get an audition in Chicago at the Remains Theatre Company which ultimately gave him a job.

Raul said the instructor inspired him to be a big star and also believed he would become one, adding that he made him feel like a great person irrespective of what he was doing. After his instructor killed himself in 1998, the Company actor said he had a cause to have a long look at himself about everything he was hiding from including his sexual orientation. He further added that it is not about where he was or what he does but rather who he is.

Although he married his wife because he loved her, he considered it a naïve decision. He was known for having affairs and dating a few men after he split from his wife. He has declared that he is gay and is rumoured to be dating the basketball player, Nick Mayo.

Net Worth

The actor with excellent performances is highly successful and must have amassed a net worth commensurate with that. However, there is no definite amount of how much he is worth.


The Law & Order actor is 5′ 8″ (1.73 m) tall.