Wesley Snipes

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Wesley Snipes
Wesley Snipes (41969097750) (cropped).jpg
Snipes in 2018
Wesley Trent Snipes

(1962-07-31) July 31, 1962 (age 59)
Education Jones High School
Alma mater State University of New York at Purchase (BFA)
OccupationActor, film producer, martial artist
Years active1985–present
    April Dubois
    (m. 19851990)
      Nakyung "Nikki" Park [1]
      (m. 2003)
Children5 [1]

Wesley Trent Snipes (born July 31, 1962) is an American actor, film producer, and martial artist. His prominent film roles include New Jack City (1991), White Men Can't Jump (1992), Passenger 57 (1992), Rising Sun (1993), Demolition Man (1993), U.S. Marshals (1998) and the Marvel Comics character Blade in the Blade film trilogy (1998–2004), The Expendables 3 (2014) and for his role on The Player (2015). Snipes was nominated for the Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Male for his work in The Waterdance and won the Volpi Cup for Best Actor for his performance in the film One Night Stand .


He formed a production company, Amen-Ra Films, in 1991, and a subsidiary, Black Dot Media, to develop projects for film and television. [2] [3] He has been training in martial arts since the age of 12, earning a 5th dan black belt in Shotokan Karate and 2nd dan black belt in Hapkido. [4]

Early life

Snipes was born in Orlando, Florida, the son of Marian (née Long), a teacher's assistant, and Wesley Rudolph Snipes, an aircraft engineer. [5] [6] He grew up in the Bronx, New York. He attended the High School of Performing Arts of Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts but moved back to Florida before he could graduate. After graduating from Jones High School in Orlando, Snipes returned to New York and attended the State University of New York at Purchase. He also attended Southwest College in Los Angeles, California.



Snipes signing autographs at Comic Con International in 2010 Snips-cc-2010.jpg
Snipes signing autographs at Comic Con International in 2010

At the age of 23, Snipes was discovered by an agent while performing in a competition. He made his film debut in the 1986 Goldie Hawn vehicle Wildcats . Later that year, he appeared on the TV show Miami Vice as a drug-dealing pimp in the episode "Streetwise" (first aired December 5, 1986). In 1987, he appeared as Michael Jackson's nemesis in the Martin Scorsese–directed music video "Bad" and the feature film Streets of Gold . That same year, Snipes was also considered for the role of Geordi La Forge in the TV series Star Trek: The Next Generation , but the role eventually went to LeVar Burton. [7] Snipes auditioned & lobbied hard for the role of Leroy Green in the 1985 cult classic movie The Last Dragon but the role was given to Taimak instead.

Snipes's performance in the music video "Bad" caught the eye of director Spike Lee. Snipes turned down a small role in Lee's Do the Right Thing for the larger part of Willie Mays Hayes in Major League , beginning a succession of box-office hits for Snipes. Lee would later cast Snipes as the jazz saxophonist Shadow Henderson in Mo' Better Blues and as the lead in the interracial romance drama Jungle Fever . After the success of Jungle Fever the Washington Post described Snipes as "the most celebrated new actor of the season". [8] He then played Thomas Flanagan in King of New York opposite Christopher Walken. He played the drug lord Nino Brown in New Jack City , which was written specifically for him by Barry Michael Cooper. He also played a drug dealer in the 1994 film Sugar Hill .

Snipes has played a number of roles in action films like Passenger 57 , Demolition Man (with Sylvester Stallone), Money Train , The Fan , U.S. Marshals and Rising Sun , as well as comedies like White Men Can't Jump , and To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar where he played a drag queen. Snipes has appeared in dramas like The Waterdance and Disappearing Acts . [9]

In 1997, he won the Best Actor Volpi Cup at the 54th Venice Film Festival for his performance in New Line Cinema's One Night Stand . In 1998, Snipes had his largest commercial success with Blade , which has grossed over $150 million worldwide. The film turned into a series. He also received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and an honorary doctorate in humanities and fine arts from his alma mater, SUNY/Purchase. [10] In 2004, Snipes reprised his role in the third film, Blade: Trinity , which he also produced. In 2005, he sued New Line Cinema and David S. Goyer, the film's studio and director, respectively. He claimed that the studio did not pay his full salary, that he was intentionally cut out of casting decisions, and that his character's screen time was reduced in favor of co-stars Ryan Reynolds and Jessica Biel. The suit was later settled, but no details were released. [11] Snipes later discussed reprising the role of Blade in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but was replaced by Mahershala Ali. Trinity was his last theatrical release in the U.S. until 2010. [12]

Snipes with Ethan Hawke during the 66th Venice International Film Festival Ethan Hawke, Wesley Snipes 66eme Festival de Venise (Mostra) 2.jpg
Snipes with Ethan Hawke during the 66th Venice International Film Festival

He later appeared in The Contractor , filmed in Bulgaria and the UK, Gallowwalkers , released in 2012, and Game of Death . Snipes was originally slated to play one of the four leads in Spike Lee's 2008 war film Miracle at St. Anna but had to leave the film due to tax problems; his role eventually went to Derek Luke. [13] [14]

Snipes in 2014, at the French premiere of The Expendables 3 Wesley Snipes 2014 3.jpg
Snipes in 2014, at the French premiere of The Expendables 3

Snipes made a comeback performance in Brooklyn's Finest as Casanova "Caz" Phillips, a supporting character, it was his first theatrical release film since 2014. He also had to turn down the part of Hale Caesar in The Expendables because he was not allowed to leave the United States without the court's approval. [15] In 2014, he appeared in the sequel The Expendables 3 . His comedic role-playing D'Urville Martin in Dolemite Is My Name has earned him positive reviews and a number of award nominations.

Other ventures

In the late 1990s, Snipes and his brother started a security firm called the Royal Guard of Amen-Ra, dedicated to providing VIPs with bodyguards trained in law enforcement and martial arts. Amen-Ra is also the name of his film company. In 1996, the first film produced by Amen-Ra was A Great And Mighty Walk – Dr. John Henrik Clarke. [16]

In 2000, the business was investigated for alleged ties to the United Nuwaubian Nation of Moors. It emerged that Snipes had spotted 200 acres (0.81 km2) of land near their Tama-Re compound in Putnam County, Georgia, intending to buy and use it for his business academy. Both Snipes's business and the groups used Egyptian motifs as their symbols. [16] Ultimately, Snipes and his brother did not buy the land, instead establishing their company in Florida, Antigua, and Africa. [16]

In 2005, Snipes entered into negotiations to fight Fear Factor host Joe Rogan on Ultimate Fighting Match, but the deal fell through. [17] [18]

Personal life

Snipes with wife Nikki Park in 2009 Flickr - nicogenin - 66eme Festival de Venise (Mostra) - Wesley Snipes (10).jpg
Snipes with wife Nikki Park in 2009

Snipes began training in martial arts when he was 12 years old. He has a 5th degree black belt in Shotokan karate and a 2nd degree black belt in Hapkido. He has also trained in Capoeira [4] under Mestre Jelon Vieira and in a number of other disciplines including kung fu at the USA Shaolin Temple [19] and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu [4] and Kickboxing. [20] During his time in New York, Snipes was trained in fighting by his friend and mentor Brooke Ellis. [21]

Snipes has been married twice, first to April Snipes (née Dubois), with whom he has a son Jelani, who had a cameo role in Snipes' 1990 film Mo' Better Blues . In 2003, Snipes married painter Nakyung "Nikki" Park, with whom he has four children. [22]

Snipes, who was raised a Christian, converted to Islam in 1978 but left Islam in 1988. During a 1991 interview, Snipes said "Islam made me more conscious of what African people have accomplished, of my self-worth, and gave me some self-dignity". [23]

Snipes' apartment in New York City was destroyed by the collapse of the World Trade Center's Twin Towers during the September 11 attacks. He was on the West Coast at the time. [21]

Snipes has a half brother A.D. Snipes, who is also an entertainer, a comedian residing in San Antonio, TX. The younger Snipes has appeared in the TNT Classics Rough Riders and Buffalo Soldiers, and has appeared on BET's Comicview and HBO's Def Comedy Jam.

Income tax conviction

On October 12, 2006, Snipes, Eddie Ray Kahn, and Douglas P. Rosile were charged with one count of conspiring to defraud the United States and one count of knowingly making or aiding and abetting the making of a false and fraudulent claim for payment against the United States. Snipes was also charged with six counts of willfully failing to file federal income tax returns by their filing dates. [24] The conspiracy charge against Snipes alleged that he filed a false amended return, including a false tax refund claim of over $4 million for the year 1996, and a false amended return, including a false tax refund claim of over US$7.3 million for the year 1997. The government alleged that Snipes attempted to obtain fraudulent tax refunds using a tax protester theory called the "861 argument" (essentially, an argument that the domestic income of U.S. citizens and residents is not taxable). The government also charged that Snipes sent three worthless, fictitious "bills of exchange" for $14 million to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). [25]

The government also charged that Snipes failed to file tax returns for the years 1999 through 2004. Snipes responded to his indictment in a letter on December 4, 2006, declaring himself to be "a non-resident alien" of the United States; in reality, Snipes is a birthright U.S. citizen. [26] Such tactics are common of the "Freemen", "Sovereign Citizen", or "OPCA" (Organized Pseudolegal Commercial Argument) category of litigation strategy. [27]

Snipes retained Robert Barnes as his defense attorney. [28] On February 1, 2008, Snipes was acquitted on the felony count of conspiracy to defraud the government and on the felony count of filing a false claim with the government. He was found guilty on three misdemeanor counts of failing to file federal income tax returns (and acquitted on three other "failure to file" charges). His co-defendants, Douglas P. Rosile and Eddie Ray Kahn, were convicted on the conspiracy and false claim charges in connection with the income tax refund claims filed for Snipes. [29] [30]

On April 24, 2008, Snipes was sentenced to three years in prison for willful failure to file federal income tax returns under 26 U.S.C.   § 7203. [31] [32] [33] Kahn was sentenced to 10 years in prison and Rosile was sentenced to four and one half years in prison. [34] The United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit affirmed Snipes's convictions in a 35-page decision issued on July 16, 2010. [35] [36] [37] Snipes reported to federal prison on December 9, 2010 to begin his three-year sentence, [38] and was held at McKean Federal Correctional Institution, a federal prison in Pennsylvania. [39] [40] [41] On June 6, 2011, the United States Supreme Court declined to hear Snipes's appeal. [42] [43] [44] Snipes was released from federal prison on April 2, 2013, [45] finishing his period of house arrest on July 19, 2013. [45] [46]

On November 1, 2018, the United States Tax Court ruled that the Internal Revenue Service did not abuse its discretion in rejecting an offer in compromise made by Snipes and in sustaining the filing of a notice of federal tax lien in connection with approximately $23.5 million in Federal tax liabilities for tax year 2001 and years 2003 through 2006. [47]


Feature films

  Denotes lead role

TitleYearFunctioned asNotes
Wildcats 1986Green check.svgDark Red x.svgTrumaine
Streets of Gold 1986Green check.svgDark Red x.svgRoland Jenkins
Critical Condition 1987Green check.svgDark Red x.svgAmbulance DriverCameo
Major League 1989Green check.svgDark Red x.svgWillie Mays Hayes
King of New York 1990Green check.svgDark Red x.svgDetective Thomas Flanigan
Mo' Better Blues 1990Green check.svgDark Red x.svgShadow Handerson
New Jack City 1991Green check.svgDark Red x.svgNino Brown
Jungle Fever 1991Green check.svgDark Red x.svgFlipper Purify
The Waterdance 1992Green check.svgDark Red x.svgRaymond Hill
White Men Can't Jump 1992Green check.svgDark Red x.svgSidney "Syd" Deane
Passenger 57 1992Green check.svgDark Red x.svgJohn Cutter
Boiling Point 1993Green check.svgDark Red x.svgUS Treasury Agent Jimmy Mercer
Rising Sun 1993Green check.svgDark Red x.svgLieutenant Webster "Web" Smith
Demolition Man 1993Green check.svgDark Red x.svgSimon Phoenix
Sugar Hill 1994Green check.svgDark Red x.svgRomello "Rome" Skuggs
Drop Zone 1994Green check.svgDark Red x.svgUS Marshal Pete Nessip
To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar 1995Green check.svgDark Red x.svgNoxeema Jackson
Money Train 1995Green check.svgDark Red x.svgOfficer John Robinson
Waiting to Exhale 1995Green check.svgDark Red x.svgJames WheelerUncredited cameo
The Fan 1996Green check.svgDark Red x.svgBobby Rayburn
John Henrik Clarke: A Great and Mighty Walk1996Dark Red x.svgGreen check.svgDocumentary film
Murder at 1600 1997Green check.svgDark Red x.svgDetective Harlan Regis
One Night Stand 1997Green check.svgDark Red x.svgMaximilian "Max" Carlyle
U.S. Marshals 1998Green check.svgDark Red x.svgMark J. Sheridan / Mark Roberts / Mark Warren
The Big Hit 1998Dark Red x.svgGreen check.svg
Down in the Delta 1998Green check.svgGreen check.svgWill SinclairLimited release
Blade 1998Green check.svgGreen check.svg Eric Brooks / Blade
Play It to the Bone 1999Green check.svgDark Red x.svgRingside FanCameo
The Art of War 2000Green check.svgGreen check.svgAgent Neil Shaw
Liberty Stands Still 2002Green check.svgDark Red x.svgAgent Alex / JoeLimited release
Zig Zag 2002Green check.svgDark Red x.svgDavid "Dave" Fletcher
Blade II 2002Green check.svgGreen check.svgEric Brooks / Blade
Undisputed 2002Green check.svgGreen check.svgMonroe "Undisputed" Hutchens
Unstoppable 2004Green check.svgDark Red x.svgAgent Dean CageLimited release
Blade: Trinity 2004Green check.svgGreen check.svgEric Brooks / Blade
7 Seconds 2005Green check.svgDark Red x.svgJack TulliverDirect-to-video
The Marksman 2005Green check.svgDark Red x.svgEnter "The Marksman" PainterDirect-to-video
Chaos 2005Green check.svgDark Red x.svgLorenz / Jason YorkDirect-to-video
The Detonator 2006Green check.svgDark Red x.svgAgent Sonni GriffithDirect-to-video
Hard Luck 2006Green check.svgDark Red x.svgLuckyDirect-to-video
The Contractor 2007Green check.svgDark Red x.svgAgent James Jackson DialDirect-to-video
The Art of War II: Betrayal 2008Green check.svgDark Red x.svgAgent Neil ShawDirect-to-video
Brooklyn's Finest 2009Green check.svgDark Red x.svgCasanova "Caz" Phillips
Game of Death 2010Green check.svgDark Red x.svgAgent Marcus JonesDirect-to-video
Revelations of the Mayans: 2012 and Beyond2012Dark Red x.svgGreen check.svgDocumentary film
Gallowwalkers 2012Green check.svgDark Red x.svgAmanDirect-to-video
The Expendables 3 2014Green check.svgDark Red x.svg Doctor "Doc" Death
Chi-Raq 2015Green check.svgDark Red x.svgSean "Cyclops" AndrewsLimited release
The Recall 2017Green check.svgGreen check.svg"The Hunter"Limited release
Armed Response 2017Green check.svgGreen check.svgIsaacDirect-to-video
Dolemite Is My Name 2019Green check.svgDark Red x.svg D'Urville Martin
Cut Throat City 2020Green check.svgDark Red x.svgLawrenceLimited release
Coming 2 America 2021Green check.svgDark Red x.svgGeneral Izzi


  Denotes lead role

TitleYearFunctioned asNetworkNotes
All My Children 1984Green check.svgDark Red x.svgMarty ABC Episode: "Episode #1.3877"
Miami Vice 1986Green check.svgDark Red x.svgSilk NBC Episode: "Streetwise"
Vietnam War Story1987Green check.svgDark Red x.svgBookmanUnknownEpisode: "An Old Ghost Walks the Earth"
A Man Called Hawk 1989Green check.svgDark Red x.svgNicholas MurdockABCEpisodes: "Choice of Chance", "A Time and a Place"
The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd 1989Green check.svgDark Red x.svgHood Lifetime Episode: "Here's Why You Should Always Make Your Bed in the Morning"
H.E.L.P. 1990Green check.svgDark Red x.svgOfficer Lou BartonABC6 episodes
America's Dream 1996Green check.svgDark Red x.svgGeorge Du Vail HBO Television film
Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child 1997Green check.svgDark Red x.svg The Pied Piper HBOEpisode: "The Pied Piper"; voice role
Masters of the Martial Arts Presented by Wesley Snipes1998Dark Red x.svgGreen check.svgUnknownTelevision film
Futuresport 1998Green check.svgGreen check.svgObike FixxABCTelevision film
Disappearing Acts 2000Green check.svgGreen check.svgFranklin SwiftHBOTelevision film
Dr. Ben2001Dark Red x.svgGreen check.svgUnknownTelevision film
The Bernie Mac Show 2003Green check.svgDark Red x.svgDuke Fox Episode: "Bernie Mac Rope-a-Dope "
The Player 2015Green check.svgDark Red x.svgMr. JohnsonNBC9 episodes
What We Do in the Shadows 2019Green check.svgDark Red x.svgWesley FX Episode: "The Trial"
Paper Empire2021Green check.svgDark Red x.svgDamon MooreUnknownEpisodes: "Calling Kiev", "Digital Limbo", "The Fintch Factor", "Market Lunch Break"
True StoryTBAGreen check.svgDark Red x.svgCarltonUnknown8 episodes


Execution of Justice 1986BroadwaySister Boom Boom

Miscellaneous crew

Blade 1998Green check.svg
Blade II 2002Green check.svg

Music video

"Bad"1987 Michael Jackson Mini MaxDirected by Martin Scorsese
"Video Greatest Hits - HIStory"1995Michael JacksonMini Max(segment "Bad")

Soundtrack appearances

Wildcats 1986Green check.svg"Football Rap (End Credits)"; uncredited
Mo' Better Blues 1990Green check.svg"Pop Top 40"
The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon 2015Green check.svgEpisode: "Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting/Wesley Snipes/Chris Cornell" - "Fame"; uncredited

Video games

Demolition Man 1994Simon PhoenixLive action full motion video
Julius Styles: The International2011Julius StylesVoice role


Awards and nominations

CableACE Awards Best Actor in a Dramatic SeriesVietnam War StoryWon
MTV Movie Awards Best Villain New Jack City Nominated
Image Awards Outstanding Lead Actor in a Motion Picture New Jack City Won
Gold Special Jury AwardBest Actors (shared with Eric Stoltz and William Forsythe) The Waterdance Won
Independent Spirit Awards Best Supporting Actor The Waterdance Nominated
MTV Movie Awards Best Screen Duo (shared with Woody Harrelson ) White Men Can't Jump Nominated
MTV Movie Awards Best Villain Demolition Man Nominated
Image Awards Outstanding Lead Actor in a Television Movie or Mini-Series America's Dream Won
Venice Film Festival Best Actor (Volpi Cup) One Night Stand Won
Blockbuster Entertainment Awards Favorite Duo – Action/Adventure (shared with Tommy Lee Jones ) U.S. Marshals Nominated
Blockbuster Entertainment Awards Favorite Actor – Horror Blade Won
MTV Movie Awards Best Fight Blade Nominated
Hollywood Walk of Fame Motion pictures starAll film workWon
Black Reel Awards Network/Cable – Best Actor Disappearing Acts Nominated
Black Reel Awards Best Actor (Motion Picture) Undisputed Nominated
Black Reel Awards Best Supporting Actor Brooklyn's Finest Won
Image Awards Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series The Player Nominated
DFCS Awards Best Supporting Actor Dolemite Is My Name Nominated
SDFCS Awards Best Comedic Performance Dolemite Is My Name Won
SDFCS Awards Best Supporting Actor Dolemite Is My Name Nominated
SLFCA Awards Best Supporting Actor Dolemite Is My Name Nominated
Black Reel Awards Outstanding Supporting Actor Dolemite Is My Name Won

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  37. United States v. Wesley Trent Snipes , July 16, 2010, case no. 08-12402, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit.
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