Bernard was born on October 12, 1962, in Evanston, Illinois, and grew up in Chicago. The youngest of three brothers, he was of Polish and Spanish ancestry, the latter because his mother was from Madrid, Spain. Bernard is a graduate of New Trier High School, and he showed interest in acting during his time there. He went to Illinois State University and the American Conservatory Theatre, graduating from the latter with a fine arts degree. For his career, Bernard started out acting in onstage plays, but he quickly progressed to roles on television.
Bernard performed in the A.C.T.-produced stage productions Good, As You Like It, Hamlet, The Diary of Anne Frank, and The Cherry Orchard. He also performed in Scenes From an Execution, which was held at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles, California. Bernard also guest-starred on Walker, Texas Ranger, Burn Notice, F/X: The Series, Babylon 5, and Silk Stalkings. In addition, he appeared in a series regular role on the daytime soap-opera The Young and the Restless. Bernard's feature film credits include Alien Raiders, Vegas, City of Dreams, The Killing Jar, and the short film The Colonel's Last Flight.
In addition to acting, Bernard has directed on occasion. In 2012, he first directed the short film Your Father's Daughter, in addition to writing and producing it. Then, from 2015 to 2017, he directed a total of five episodes for the TV series The Inspectors. Bernard also directed one episode each for the CBS-produced police-procedural shows Hawaii Five-0 and Criminal Minds. In his personal life, Bernard married actress Sharisse Baker-Bernard in 1999, and the two had a daughter named Natalie, who was born in August 2003. He and Sharisse later divorced in 2010.
Bernard directed the following episodes for Criminal Minds: