Early Life and Education
Wesley Trent Snipes was born on July 31, 1962, in Orlando, Florida. Raised with his three sisters in the South Bronx by his grandmother and mother, Snipes attended the High School for the Performing Arts in New York City.
After attending the State University of New York at Purchase, he pursued his acting career in earnest.
Film Debut: ‘Wildcats’
Snipes made his film debut in Wildcats, starring Goldie Hawn, in 1986. After Spike Lee spotted him in the Michael Jackson video Bad, the director cast him in Mo’ Better Blues opposite Denzel Washington in 1990.
The following year, Snipes not only took the leading role in Lee's Jungle Fever, but also portrayed one of his most memorable characters to date, that of stylish crime lord Nino Brown in Mario Van Peebles’ New Jack City.
Throughout the 1990s, Snipes remained one of the biggest actors in Hollywood thanks to subsequent turns in such successful films as the emotionally wrought The Waterdance, the big-budget action flick Passenger 57 and the comedy White Men Can't Jump.
Though audiences might best remember him in such action adventures as 1993's Rising Sun and 1998's Blade, Snipes has made a concerted effort to explore other directions with such films as Waiting to Exhale in 1995, To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar (where he played an over-the-top drag queen) and One Night Stand in 1997, for which he won the award for best actor at the Venice Film Festival.
On April 24, 2008, Snipes was sentenced to a maximum of three years in prison on tax evasion charges. The government said Snipes should've paid $2.7 million in taxes on his $13.8 million income, and that he didn't file returns from 1999 to 2001.
Snipes married April Snipes in 1985. They had a son together, Jelani Asar Snipes, in 1988. The couple divorced in 1990. In 2003, Snipes married painter Nakyung “Nikki” Park. They have four children.
July 31, 1962
- Charismatic actor who starred as the tough vampire killer in the Blade trilogy and gave a memorable performance in Passenger 57. His other notable films include Major League, Rising Sun, and The Expendables 3.
- At age twelve, he began training in and eventually achieving black belts in multiple forms of martial arts. He debuted in the 1986 film Wildcats as Trumaine.
- He got into trouble for not paying taxes and began serving a three year prison sentence at the end of 2010.
- He was in the music video for the song “Bad” with Michael Jackson.