Anthony Bekenn was born in East Africa, in the southern part of Tanzania. His father, Michael, was a district officer in the Tanganyika government. Initially he was home schooled by his mother, Sheila, who had previously been a school teacher in Wolverhampton in the UK. He was subsequently educated in England, attending Tettenhall College, when his parents returned there in the early sixties. He completed high school in Canada, after the family emigrated to Vancouver B.C. in 1967.
He completed a degree in History and English at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver in 1974, and then decided to try his hand at acting. He attended the Webber-Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art in London, England, which merged with Central School of Speech and Drama in 2006. An extensive career followed, working in television and numerous theatres across Canada, including the Stratford Festival and the Shaw Festival.