Wesley Snipes is an American actor, producer, martial artist and entrepreneur. He was born on July 31, 1962 in Orlando, Florida to Wesley and Maryann Snipes, and grew up in the Bronx, New York. He was inclined towards becoming a dancer at first but later changed his mind when he took acting classes and began to enjoy them. He attended the Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing but moved back to Florida and graduated from Jones High School in Orlando. He then attended the State University of New York where he graduated with a Bachelors of Fine Arts in 1985. He also attended Southwest College in Los Angeles, California.
After working in local theatre productions, Snipes was discovered at the age of 23 by an agent who got him a role in the 1986 film “Wildcats” starring Goldie Hawn. Snipes is a trained fighter and has a 5th degree black belt, along with Brazilian martial arts training. He often took on “tough guy” action roles in movies and performed his own stunts. One such role was that of a drug dealer named Nino Brown in the 1991 crime thriller “New Jack City” for which he won the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture.
Snipes starred in Michael Jackson’s music video for the song “Bad” in which the director Spike Lee spotted him and cast him for the part of Willie Mays Hayes in the film “Major League”. He also starred in the film “Mo’ Better Blues” opposite Denzel Washington in 1990 and then scored the lead in the romantic drama film “Jungle Fever”. Some of his other prominent roles include the films “King of New York” starring opposite Christopher Walken in 1990, “Passenger 57” in 1992 and “Demolition Man” with Sylvester Stallone in 1993. In 1997, he played the role of Max Carlyle in the film “One Night Stand” for which he won the Best Actor Volpi Cup, the principal award given at the Venice Film Festival.
Snipes’ biggest commercial success to date has been the Blade franchise, in which he played the lead role of a human-vampire hybrid based on a Marvel Comics character. Blade was directed by Stephen Norrington and written by David S. Goyer. It was a sweeping success and made $70 million at the U.S. box office and $150 million worldwide. Snipes reprised his role in both “Blade II” and “Blade: Trinity” which were sequels. He received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame along with an honorary doctorate from the State University of New York. There was some controversy surrounding the film, as Snipes sued the production company for paying him less than the originally agreed amount, and reducing his screen time in favor of his co-stars. The claim was later settled out of court.
Snipes and his brother started a security firm called the Royal Guard of Amen-Ra, which provided trained guards to celebrities. He has been married twice, first to April Dubois with whom he has a son and then to Nikki Park with whom he has 4 children. He has been charged with fraudulent tax claims and tax evasion and was sentenced to three years in prison. His prison time was served between December 2010 to April 2013. He is currently 52 years old and is rumored to return for the next installment in the Blade series.