Wesley T. Snipes is a globally celebrated actor, film producer, master in various martial arts, and a loving father and husband. Born in Orlando, Fla. on July 31, 1962, he spent his childhood between Orlando, Fla. and Bronx, N.Y. while attending the High School of Performing Arts in NYC and graduated from Jones High School in Florida.
While in high school, Wesley started appearing in Off-Broadway productions, fine-tuning his craft as a drama and musical theater artist. He later founded with friends a bus-n-truck street troupe called “Struttin Street Stuff” which took him into Central Park, dinner theaters, and regional productions around Florida before his college years at the State University of New York at Purchase.
Wesley’s work onstag
e and in TV commercials soon caught the attention of Joe Roth who cast him as an Olympic boxing hopeful in Streets of Gold. He was then handpicked by Martin Scorsese and Quincy Jones to play the gang leader in Michael Jackson’s Bad music video. He subsequently joined the cast of Wildcats (1986) as well as Spike Lee’s Mo’ Better Blue (1990) and Jungle Fever (1991).
The unique diversity of Wesley’s charisma, acting ability, and proficiency in the martial arts led to roles alongside some of showbiz’s biggest names – Robert De Niro, Sean Connery, Dennis Hopper and Sylvester Stallone. These roles include Major League (1989), Passenger 57 (1992), Rising Sun (1993), Boiling Point (1993), Demolition Man (1993), Drop Zone (1994), The Fan (1996), Future Sport (1998), and Undisputed (2002), all of which made him a most favored African-American action star not only in Hollywood, but internationally, as well.
Wesley has pleasantly surprised audiences with his versatile dramatic acting skills, evident in his award winning roles in The Water Dance (1992) and as a drag queen in the drama To Wong Foo: Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar (1995). Other notable dramatic roles include Disappearing Acts (2011), One Night Stand (1997), Murder at 1600 (1997) and US Marshals (1998).
In 1998, although faced with strong opposition and concerns, Wesley recognized the need for an urb
an action hero. Hence Blade, a lesser-known Marvel character, was adapted and released. The Blade Trilogy is still one of the highest grossing adaptations at over $1.5 billion worldwide.
Wesley ranks among the highest paid African-American actors with gross earnings worldwide estimated at over $2 billion. He has been married to Korean artist Nikki Park since 2000, and has four children with her and an older son from a previous marriage.
Here, Wesley talks about his latest outing as Doc alongside Sly Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Harrison Ford, Mel Gibson, Antonio Banderas, Terry Crews and Kelsey Grammer in The Expendable 3.
Kam Williams: What interested you in The Expendables 3?
Wesley Snipes: [Sarcastically] Really, it was the filming location, the food, and the wonderful hotel suite that they could give me. [Laughs] No, honestly man, it was the opportunity to work again with Sly, and the chance to be a part of that ensemble with a lot of the best of the best of this particular genre.
KW: Documentary director Kevin Williams asks: Did you enjoy watching this genre of film growing up?
WS: Oh yeah! All the way back to The Seven Samurai. I’m a big fan of this type of film. And hearing about all the heavyweights they were bringing back only made it even more attractive. It was a blessing, Kam, just to be on the set with some of these iconic actors, to see how they perform, to have a chance to get up close and personal with them, and to crack a joke or two or three or four with them.
KW: Was it ever trouble making any elbow room with so many egos on the set?
WS: Not really. What would make you think that?
KW: So many matinee idols having to share the limelight might make for sharp elbows.
WS: [Chuckles] Yeah, but you’re talking about some of the best in the game. They’re all veterans who bring a certain level of sophistication and professionalism to the table. For what it’s worth, this action hero/action star genre is a small clique. There aren’t a lot of guys that do it.And there aren’t many guys who have excelled at it. There’s an appreciation for what it takes to pull it off, and for the durability reflected in being able to survive after all these years.