Wesley SnipesSnipes in July 2018BornWesley Trent 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).
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.
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. He was released from prison in 2013.Contents
Snipes was born in Orlando, Florida, the son of Marian (née Long), a teacher's assistant, and Wesley Rudolph Snipes, an aircraft engineer. 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.Career Acting 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.
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.
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. 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. 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.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.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 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. 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.
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. Ultimately, Snipes and his brother did not buy the land, instead establishing their company in Florida, Antigua, and Africa.
In 2005, Snipes was in negotiations to fight Fear Factor host Joe Rogan.Personal life 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 under Mestre Jelon Vieira and in a number of other disciplines including kung fu at the USA Shaolin Temple and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Kickboxing. During his time in New York, Snipes was trained in fighting by his friend and mentor Brooke Ellis.
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. Snipes also has a son who lives in Vancouver, Canada born in 2008. 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".
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.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. 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).
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. 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.
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.
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. Kahn was sentenced to 10 years in prison and Rosile was sentenced to four and half years in prison. The United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit affirmed Snipes's convictions in a 35-page decision issued on July 16, 2010.  Snipes reported to federal prison on December 9, 2010 to begin his three-year sentence, and was held at McKean Federal Correctional Institution, a federal prison in Pennsylvania. On June 6, 2011, the United States Supreme Court declined to hear Snipes's appeal. Snipes was released from federal prison on April 2, 2013, finishing his period of house arrest on July 19, 2013.
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.Filmography Film Year Title Role Notes 1986 Wildcats Trumaine 1986 Streets of Gold Roland Jenkins 1987 Critical Condition Ambulance Driver 1987 Bad Mini Max Music video 1989 Major League "Willie Mays" Hayes 1990 Mo' Better Blues Shadow Handerson 1990 King of New York Thomas Flanigan 1991 New Jack City Nino Brown Nominated – MTV Movie Award for Best Villain 1991 Jungle Fever Flipper "Flip" Purify 1992 The Waterdance Raymond Hill 1992 White Men Can't Jump Sidney "Syd" Deane 1992 Passenger 57 John Cutter 1993 Boiling Point Jimmy Mercer 1993 Rising Sun Lt. Webster "Web" Smith 1993 Demolition Man Simon Phoenix Nominated – MTV Movie Award for Best Villain 1994 Sugar Hill Roemello Skugs 1994 Drop Zone Pete Nessip 1995 To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar Noxeema Jackson 1995 Money Train John Powell 1995 Waiting to Exhale James Wheeler Uncredited Cameo 1996 The Fan Bobby Rayburn 1997 Murder at 1600 Detective Harlan Regis 1997 One Night Stand Maximilian "Max" Carlyle Volpi Cup for Best Actor 1998 Jackie Chan: My Story Himself Documentary 1998 U.S. Marshals Mark J. Sheridan / Mark Warren / Mark Roberts 1998 Blade Eric Brooks / Blade Also fight choreographer and producer 1998 Down in the Delta Will Sinclair Direct-to-video, also executive producer 1998 Masters of the Martial Arts Himself Documentary 1999 Play It to the Bone Ringside Fan #2 Cameo 2000 The Art of War Neil Shaw 2002 Blade II Eric Brooks / Blade Also fight choreographer and producer 2002 Liberty Stands Still Joe Direct-to-video 2002 ZigZag David "Dave" Fletcher 2002 Undisputed Monroe "Undisputed" Hutchens Also producer 2004 Unstoppable Dean Cage Direct-to-video 2004 Blade: Trinity Eric Brooks / Blade Also producer 2005 7 Seconds Jack Tulliver Direct-to-video 2005 The Marksman Painter Direct-to-video 2005 Chaos Jason York / Scott Curtis/Lorenz Direct-to-video 2006 The Detonator Sonni Griffith Direct-to-video 2006 Hard Luck Lucky Direct-to-video 2007 The Contractor James Jackson Dial Direct-to-video 2008 The Art of War II: Betrayal Neil Shaw Direct-to-video 2009 Brooklyn's Finest Casanova "Caz" Phillips Black Reel Award for Best Supporting Actor 2010 Game of Death Agent Marcus Jones Direct-to-video 2012 Gallowwalkers Aman Direct-to-video 2014 The Expendables 3 Doctor Death 2015 Chi-Raq Cyclops Limited release 2017 Armed Response Isaac Direct-to-video 2017 The Recall The Hunter Direct-to-video 2019 Dolemite Is My Name D'Urville Martin Post-production 2019 Cut Throat City Post-production Television Year Title Role Notes 1986 Miami Vice Silk Episode: "Streetwise" 1987 Vietnam War Story Young Soldier Episode: "An Old Ghost Walks the Earth" 1989 A Man Called Hawk Nicholas Murdock Episode: "Choice of Chance" 1989 The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd Hood Episode: "Here's Why You Should Always Make Your Bed in the Morning" 1990 H.E.L.P. Lou Barton 6 episodes 1996 America's Dream George Du Vail Television film 1997 Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child The Pied Piper (voice) Episode: "The Pied Piper" 1998 Futuresport Obike Fixx Television film 2000 Disappearing Acts Franklin Swift Television film; also producer 2003 The Bernie Mac Show Duke Episode: "Rope-a-Dope" 2015 The Player Mr. Johnson 9 episodes 2019 What We Do in the Shadows (TV series) Wesley Episode: "The Trial" Stage Year Title Role Notes 1986 Execution of Justice Sister Boom Boom Broadway Publications