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Biography #2

Wesley Snipes has distinguished himself as one of the most talented and respected leading men in the entertainment industry, with numerous starring roles in action-adventures, thrillers, comedy and dramatic feature films. He has starred opposite such noted actors as Robert De Niro and Sean Connery and is regarded as one of the most prolific producers of 1998.

Snipes has successfully ventured into the creative aspects of filmmaking while steadily building his resume with a cache of box-office hits. In 1991, he formed his own independent production company, Amen Ra Films, and its subsidiary Black Dot Media, to develop projects for film and television.

1998 was especially rewarding for Snipes with the successful opening of the year's cult hit Blade, for New Line Cinema, which has grossed over $150 million worldwide. He was also honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and received an honorary doctorate from his alma mater, SUNY/Purchase, for his outstanding achievements in film.

Snipes produced The Big Hit, starring Mark Wahlberg and executive produced by John Woo and Terrence Chang, and the critically acclaimed feature Down in the Delta, which marked Dr. Maya Angelou's directorial debut and garnered several awards including a Christopher Prism and nominations in multiple categories for the Acapulco Black Film Festival, as well as an NAACP Image Award for Best Motion Picture.

Additionally, television projects distinguished Snipes as a creative force with ABC's Futuresport, in which he starred with Dean Cain and Vanessa L. Williams. Snipes also produced the highest rated cable special of all time, TNT's "The First Tribute to the Martial Arts Masters of the 20th Century," which showcased some of the greatest innovators of the martial arts.

Born in Orlando, Florida, Snipes moved to the South Bronx as an infant and attended the High School for the Performing Arts. Much to his dismay, his mother decided to move the family back to Orlando, where he completed high school and teamed up with friends to form Struttin' Street Stuff, a traveling puppet troupe that performed in public parks and schools. In 1980, Snipes returned to New York to attend SUNY/Purchase, where he prepared for a career on the stage. He subsequently landed roles on Broadway in such productions as Boys of Winter, Execution of Justice and Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka's Death and the King's Horseman.

In 1985, while working the audition circuit in New York in between installing public telephones, Snipes auditioned for a role in the Warner Bros. Pictures comedy Wildcats, starring Goldie Hawn. The distinct impression he made on the casting agent earned him a call back to fill the role in the film.

In 1987, Snipes appeared as Michael Jackson's rival gang leader in the Martin Scorsese-directed music video Bad and the feature film Streets of Gold, which brought him to the attention of director Spike Lee. He turned down a small role in Lee's Do the Right Thing for the larger part of Willie Mays Hays in Major League, beginning a succession of box-office hits for Snipes. Lee would later cast Snipes as the jazz saxophonist Shadow Handerson in Mo' Better Blues and as the lead in the interracial romance drama Jungle Fever. Snipes' most recognizable role is the brilliant drug lord Nino Brown in New Jack City, which was written specifically for him by Barry Michael Cooper.

Snipes continued to showcase his broad range in such films as the comedy White Men Can't Jump, the critically acclaimed The Waterdance, and the action/adventure Passenger 57 (which featured his martial arts expertise), Rising Sun, Demolition Man, Sugar Hill, Drop Zone, To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar, Money Train and The Fan.

In 1997 he won the Best Actor Volpi Cup at the Venice Film Festival for his performance in New Line Cinema's dramatic tale of infidelity, One Night Stand. Snipes was also lauded by critics worldwide for his uncompromising performance in U.S. Marshals, the sequel to Warner Bros. Pictures' box-office hit, The Fugitive.

Snipes also serves as executive producer of a series of documentaries that he personally finances through Black Dot Media. Acting as a forum for some of the most illustrious minds and creative thinkers from the African and Afro-Caribbean culture, Black Dot Media provides a myriad of educational information, paying homage to visionaries around the world, including historians, poets, anthropologists and academically esteemed scholars, while maintaining the integrity and fundamental principles of the true African and Afro-Caribbean experience. The first in the series, John Henrik Clarke: A Great and Mighty Walk, chronicling the life of Dr. John Henrik Clarke, a pre-eminent voice and authority on African and Afro-Caribbean studies, won critical acclaim at the Sundance Film Festival in 1997 and won the Grand Jury Prize for Best Documentary at the Urbanworld Film Festival in New York.

Bio courtesy Warner Bros. (01-Jan-2000)


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