Wesley Snipes

Wesley Trent Snipes (born July 31, 1962) is an American actor, director, film producer, martial artist, and author. His prominent film roles include New Jack City (1991), White Men Can't Jump (1992), Passenger 57 (1992), Demolition Man (1993), and the Marvel Comics character Blade in the Blade film trilogy (1998–2004).

Wesley Snipes
Snipes in July 2018
Wesley Trent Snipes

(1962-07-31) July 31, 1962
OccupationActor, film producer, martial artist, author
Years active1986–2010, 2013–present
April Dubois (m. 19851990)

Nakyung "Nikki" Park (m. 2003)

He formed a production company, Amen-Ra Films, in 1991, and a subsidiary, Black Dot Media, to develop projects for film and television. 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.[1]

In 2010, Snipes began serving a three-year prison sentence in McKean County, Pennsylvania for misdemeanor failure to file U.S. federal income tax returns.[2] He was released from prison in 2013.[3]

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.[4][5] 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.



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.[6]

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. 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.[7]

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.[8] 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.[9] He has discussed reprising the role of Blade as part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Trinity was his last theatrical release in the U.S. until 2010.[10]

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.[11]

Snipes made a comeback performance in Brooklyn's Finest as Casanova "Caz" Phillips, a supporting character, it was his first theatrical release film since 2004. 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.[12] In 2014, he appeared in the sequel The Expendables 3.

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.[13]

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.[13] Ultimately, Snipes and his brother did not buy the land, instead establishing their company in Florida, Antigua, and Africa.[13]

In 2005, Snipes was in negotiations to fight Fear Factor host Joe Rogan on Ultimate Fighting Match.[14]

Personal life

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[1] under Mestre Jelon Vieira and in a number of other disciplines including kung fu at the USA Shaolin Temple[15] and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Kickboxing. During his time in New York, Snipes was trained in fighting by his friend and mentor Brooke Ellis.[16]

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's 1990 film Mo' Better Blues. In 2003, Snipes married painter Nakyung "Nikki" Park, with whom he has four children.[17]

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".[18]

Snipes's apartment 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.[16]

Halle Berry's ex-partner, Christopher Williams, has accused Snipes of partner violence. Berry spoke out against partner violence and shared the fact that a former partner of hers had hit her so hard that she lost 80% of the hearing in her right ear. The media had assumed it was Williams, but he in turn accused Wesley Snipes. [19]

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.[20] 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).[21]

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.[22] Snipes said he was being made an example of and was unfairly targeted by prosecutors because of his fame in connection with the federal tax fraud investigation. Such tactics are common of the "Freemen", "Sovereign Citizen", or "OPCA" (Organized Pseudolegal Commercial Argument) category of litigation strategy.[23]

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, however, 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.[24][25]

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.[26][27][28] Kahn was sentenced to 10 years in prison and Rosile was sentenced to four and half years in prison.[29] The United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit affirmed Snipes's convictions in a 35-page decision issued on July 16, 2010.[30][31][32] Snipes reported to federal prison on December 9, 2010 to begin his three-year sentence,[33] and was held at McKean Federal Correctional Institution, a federal prison in Pennsylvania.[34] On June 6, 2011, the United States Supreme Court declined to hear Snipes's appeal.[35][36][37] Snipes was released from federal prison on April 2, 2013,[38] finishing his period of house arrest on July 19, 2013.[38][39]

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.[40]



Year Title Role Notes
1986Streets of GoldRoland Jenkins
1987Critical ConditionAmbulance Driver
1987BadMini MaxMusic video
1989Major League"Willie Mays" Hayes
1990Mo' Better BluesShadow Handerson
1990King of New YorkThomas Flanigan
1991New Jack CityNino BrownNominated – MTV Movie Award for Best Villain
1991Jungle FeverFlipper Purify
1992The WaterdanceRaymond Hill
1992White Men Can't JumpSidney "Syd" Deane
1992Passenger 57John Cutter
1993Boiling PointJimmy Mercer
1993Rising SunLt. Webster "Web" Smith
1993Demolition ManSimon PhoenixNominated – MTV Movie Award for Best Villain
1994Sugar HillRoemello Skugs
1994Drop ZonePete Nessip
1995To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie NewmarNoxeema Jackson
1995Money TrainJohn Powell
1995Waiting to ExhaleJames WheelerUncredited Cameo
1996The FanBobby Rayburn
1997Murder at 1600Detective Harlan Regis
1997One Night StandMaximilian "Max" CarlyleVolpi Cup for Best Actor
1998Jackie Chan: My StoryHimselfDocumentary
1998U.S. MarshalsMark J. Sheridan / Mark Warren / Mark Roberts
1998BladeEric Brooks / BladeAlso fight choreographer and producer
1998Down in the DeltaWill SinclairDirect-to-video, also executive producer
1998Masters of the Martial ArtsHimselfDocumentary
1999Play It to the BoneRingside Fan #2Cameo
2000The Art of WarNeil Shaw
2002Blade IIEric Brooks / BladeAlso fight choreographer and producer
2002Liberty Stands StillJoeDirect-to-video
2002ZigZagDavid "Dave" Fletcher
2002UndisputedMonroe "Undisputed" HutchensAlso producer
2004UnstoppableDean CageDirect-to-video
2004Blade: TrinityEric Brooks / BladeAlso producer
20057 SecondsJack TulliverDirect-to-video
2005The MarksmanPainterDirect-to-video
2005ChaosJason York / Scott Curtis/LorenzDirect-to-video
2006The DetonatorSonni GriffithDirect-to-video
2006Hard LuckLuckyDirect-to-video
2007The ContractorJames Jackson DialDirect-to-video
2008The Art of War II: BetrayalNeil ShawDirect-to-video
2009Brooklyn's FinestCasanova "Caz" PhillipsBlack Reel Award for Best Supporting Actor
2010Game of DeathAgent Marcus JonesDirect-to-video
2014The Expendables 3Doctor Death
2015Chi-RaqCyclopsLimited release
2017Armed ResponseIsaacDirect-to-video
2017The RecallThe HunterDirect-to-video
2019Dolemite Is My NameD'Urville Martin
2019Cut Throat CityPost-production
2020Coming 2 AmericaGeneral Eazie[41]Post-production


Year Title Role Notes
1986Miami ViceSilkEpisode: "Streetwise"
1987Vietnam War StoryYoung SoldierEpisode: "An Old Ghost Walks the Earth"
1989A Man Called HawkNicholas MurdockEpisode: "Choice of Chance"
1989The Days and Nights of Molly DoddHoodEpisode: "Here's Why You Should Always Make Your Bed in the Morning"
1990H.E.L.P.Lou Barton6 episodes
1996America's DreamGeorge Du VailTelevision film
1997Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every ChildThe Pied Piper (voice)Episode: "The Pied Piper"
1998FuturesportObike FixxTelevision film
2000Disappearing ActsFranklin SwiftTelevision film; also producer
2003The Bernie Mac ShowDukeEpisode: "Rope-a-Dope"
2015The PlayerMr. Johnson9 episodes
2019What We Do in the ShadowsWesleyEpisode: "The Trial"


Year Title Role Notes
1986Execution of JusticeSister Boom BoomBroadway


  • Talon of God (Co-written with Ray Norman) (July 25, 2017)[42]

Awards and nominations

Award Category Title Result
CableACE Awards Best Actor in a Dramatic Series Vietnam War Story Won
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 Award Best 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 star All film work Won
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


  1. "Wesley Snipes: Action man courts a new beginning". The Independent. London. June 4, 2010. Retrieved June 10, 2010.
  2. Martinez, Michael (December 9, 2010). "Actor Wesley Snipes reports to prison to begin sentence". CNN.
  3. "Wesley Snipes Leaves Pa. Prison After Tax Sentence". April 6, 2013. Archived from the original on April 9, 2013.
  4. LaVelle, Alisa; Buzgon, Michelle (August 9, 2000). "1ST PERSON: Meet Wesley Snipes". Knight Ridder/Tribune.
  5. "USA vs Wesley Trent Snipes, Eddie Ray Kahn and Douglas P. Rosile" (PDF). Fraudsandscams.com. Retrieved April 19, 2017.
  6. "Letters of Note: STAR TREK/Casting". Retrieved March 25, 2010.
  7. "Wesley Snipes". Biography.com. Retrieved December 11, 2017.
  8. Blue, R.; Naden, C.J. (2001). Wesley Snipes. New York, NY, USA: Chelsea House Publishers. p. 36. ISBN 9780791058008.
  9. Alabama Set your local edition ». "Wesley Snipes talks about his tax trouble and new movie, 'Brooklyn's Finest' | al.com". Blog.al.com. Retrieved April 5, 2013.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
  10. "Wesley Snipes has met with Marvel about returning as Blade the vampire hunter in Cinematic Universe". comicbook.com. July 9, 2015.
  11. Collis, Clark. "Fall Movie Summer Preview, September: Miracle at St. Anna." Entertainment Weekly, Iss. #1007/1008, August 22/29, 2008, pg. 42–45.
  12. Norman, Tony. "Dear Wesley Snipes: Next Time, Try Wall Street" Archived January 4, 2011, at the Wayback Machine Pittsburgh Post-Gazette December 3, 2010
  13. Nashawaty, Chris (December 21, 2007). "The Trials of Wesley Snipes". Entertainment Weekly, pp. 45–51.
  14. Posted at November 16, 2005 5:55 PM (November 16, 2005). "Joe Rogan vs. Wesley Snipes in Ultimate Fighting Match". Hiphopmusic.com. Retrieved April 19, 2017.
  15. Ritter, Peter (May 14, 2006). "Neighborhood Report: Greenwich Village; This Monk Is a Boldface Name". New York Times. Retrieved March 1, 2010.
  16. "Interview with the Sports Junkies". 106.7 The Fan. February 19, 2010.
  17. "Wesley Snipes' Wife Nikki Nakyung Park". BallerWives.com. August 8, 2009.
  18. "Wesley Snipes, Hollywood's hottest new star talks about: his divorce, his days on the streets and why he does not have 'jungle fever'." Ebony Magazine. September, 1991 by Laura B. Randolph
  19. "Halle Berry Speaks On Losing 80 Percent Of Her Hearing". The Urban Daily. June 20, 2011. Retrieved July 23, 2019.
  20. "FindLaw: U.S. v. Wesley Snipes: Hollywood Actor Wesley Snipes Indicted on Tax Fraud Charges". News.findlaw.com. Retrieved April 19, 2017.
  21. Superseding Indictment, October 12, 2006, United States v. Wesley Trent Snipes, entry 6, page 8, paragraphs 29 & 30 and page 9, paragraph 39, case no. 5:06-cr-00022-WTH-GRJ, United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida (Ocala Div.).
  22. "Feds: Snipes Declared Himself Alien, Warned Against Past Tax Prosecution", Foxnews.com, January 25, 2008.
  23. "Meads v. Meads, 2012 ABQB 571 (CanLII), par. 68, retrieved on 2018-03-26".
  24. "Wesley Snipes acquitted of federal tax fraud - today > entertainment - today > entertainment > celebs - TODAY.com". Today.com. October 4, 2015. Retrieved April 19, 2017.
  25. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on June 3, 2008. Retrieved February 9, 2016.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  26. "Snipes Sentenced To 36 Months". Orlando: WESH. April 24, 2008. Archived from the original on April 25, 2008. Retrieved April 24, 2008.
  27. Archived July 24, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  28. "Wesley Snipes to serve 3 years in prison for tax convictions". AP Online   via HighBeam (subscription required) . April 25, 2008. Archived from the original on November 5, 2013. Retrieved May 12, 2013.
  29. "Movies Fever".
  30. United States v. Wesley Trent Snipes, July 16, 2010, case no. 08-12402, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit.
  31. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on December 14, 2010. Retrieved January 15, 2017.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  32. "Wesley Trent Snipes, inmate # 43355-018". Federal Bureau of Prisons. United States Department of Justice.
  33. Order List, p. 2, certiorari denied, Wesley T. Snipes v. United States, case no. 10-1075, United States Supreme Court (June 6, 2011).
  34. "Supreme Court Won't Hear Wesley Snipes Tax Evasion Appeal". Fox News. June 6, 2011. Retrieved April 19, 2017.
  35. Bill Mears. "High court dismisses actor's appeal on tax evasion conviction". CNN.com. Retrieved April 19, 2017.
  36. "Wesley Snipes -- Released from Prison". TMZ. April 5, 2013.
  37. "Find an inmate". Federal Bureau of Prisons. BOP Register Number 43355-018.
  38. Snipes v. Commissioner, case no. 027902-15L, T.C. Memo 2018-184, U.S. Tax Court (Nov. 1, 2018).
  39. Dick, Jeremy (September 10, 2019). "New Coming 2 America Character Secrets Unveiled by Wesley Snipes". MovieWeb. Retrieved September 20, 2019.
  40. "Talon of God". Amazon.com. Retrieved December 11, 2017.
This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.