Wesley Trent Snipes, born July 31, 1962, is an American actor, film producer, and martial artist, who has starred in numerous action films, thrillers, and dramatic feature films.
Snipes was born in Orlando, Florida, the son of Marian, a teacher’s assistant, and Wesley R. Snipes, an aircraft engineer. He grew up in Bronx. He attended P.S. 132, an elementary school in Bronx. Snipes graduated from I.S. 131, a Bronx middle school, and also attended the famed Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing, 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, before being asked to leave his junior year. Snipes also attended Southwest College in Los Angeles.
Snipes is known for playing the Marvel Comics character Blade in the Blade film trilogy, among various other high profile roles. Snipes formed a production company, Amen-Ra Films, in 1991 and a subsidiary, Black Dot Media, to develop projects for film and television. Snipes has been training in martial arts since age 12, earning a high ranking 5th dan black belt in Shotokan Karate and 2nd dan black belt in Hapkido, a dynamic and also eclectic Korean martial art. He has also trained as a student of Capoeira under Mestre Jelon Vieira and in a number of other disciplines including various styles of kung fu and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
Snipes, who was raised a Christian, converted to Islam in 1978 but left Islam in 1988.
Snipes’ 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. During his time in New York Snipes was trained in fighting by his friend and mentor Brooke Ellis.
In a television appearance on December 7, 2010, Snipes was asked by CNN’s Larry King if he was nervous about going to prison, and he admitted his trepidation about doing time. “I think any man would be nervous,” Snipes said. “Given the length of time that they are suggesting that I be away from my family, away from my profession, away from my ability to provide for my family and for those who have depended upon me to contribute to society … I think anyone would be nervous about that.”
On December 9, 2010, Snipes reported to federal prison to begin his three-year sentence.
On June 6, 2011, the United States Supreme Court declined to hear Snipes’ appeal. Snipes is currently being held at the Federal Correctional Institution, McKean, a medium security federal prison in Pennsylvania, and is scheduled for release on July 19, 2013.