After five successful decades working as an actor in front of the camera, Raphael Sbarge began exploring life behind the camera, adding the title of Director and producer to his resume in 2011. As an award-winning conscious creator, producer and director, the focus of many of Raphael’s films and series have been about social justice, environmental justice, and underserved voices.

While growing up in New York City, Raphael began working on Sesame Street at the age of four. Son of Broadway costume designer, Jeannie Button, he grew up backstage, appearing in his first play at Tanglewood at the age of seven. Since Raphael’s mother was also a professor at Yale Drama School, he began acting in plays at the Yale Rep starting at the age ten. His father was an artist, photographer, and documentary filmmaker, which lead to him growing up with two creative and visually-dynamic people as his role models. He acted in his first Broadway play at the young age of sixteen, opposite Faye Dunaway and has since been in five total, including the revival of Ah, Wilderness opposite Jason Robards, and Coleen Dewhurst.

Raphael got his big break when he was cast in his first studio film at 18, Risky Business starring Tom Cruise, following up with the films My Science Project, and Vision Quest with Matthew Modine. He has since been in many other successful films, including Independence Day with Will Smith, Pearl Harbor with Ben Affleck, and the cult classic Carnasuar for Roger Corman. On the small screen, Raphael has appeared in over 100 television guest and recurring roles and four series regular roles on network television shows, including the ABC hit Once Upon a Time, Steven Bochco’s Murder in the First, and CBS’ The Guardian.  

In 2020, Raphael earned his first Emmy nomination for LA Foodways, a one-hour feature documentary and a six-part series that he directed and produced. It debuted on KCET-PBS, which his production company, Wishing Well Entertainment, co-produced with the network. He has directed and produced several other films for KCET that have aired. His current feature film, called Only in Theatres, premiered theatrically in Los Angeles this past November.  The film follows The Laemmle Theaters, a fourth-generation family business and beloved art house cinema chain with ties to the origins of Hollywood. Receiving rave reviews in the LA Times, Daily News, among others, it was noted as “essential viewing for every filmgoer,” “beautiful and complicated,” “timely,” “an American story,” with the added comment that “this film could not be any more important.” Only in Theaters opens in New York at the IFC, and New Plaza Cinema’s on Jan 18th and 20th.   

Most recently, Raphael completed his work on the 4-part docuseries for KCET, called 10 Days in Watts, set in Watts, CA.  It will air on February 12th and 19th on KCET and also streaming on the PBS app. The series follows another legacy story of a third-generation family working to “improve the lives of the citizens of Watts” for over 57 years. Through the series, viewers will meet many of the long resident of Watts, as they prepare for the opening of a 2 ½ acre farm at the foot of one of the most notorious housing projects, Jordan Downs.   

Prior to this, Raphael directed a series with Ed Begley Jr. on the building of his LEED home, also with Jeff Goldblum and Sharon Lawrence. His narrative film about an immigrant Korean family, The Bird Who Could Fly, won Best Director, Best Ensemble, and Audience Awards at several Asian festivals around the US. He filmed Broadway actor Marty Moran in his Obie Award-winning play called The Tricky Part, centering around the complicated issue of male sexual abuse. The film, supported by Anthony Edwards, played many festivals around the US, winning Best Director at the Awareness Festival.

Raphael is married to artist/writer Jenna DeAngeles, and has two children, Willow and Django.