Top Picks: In Celebration of Wesley Snipes

From the “bad guy” in Michael Jackson’s epic Martin Scorsese-directed movie/music video to one of Hollywood’s most recognizable action movie actors, Wesley Snipe’s acting career spans an impressive 30-plus years. As a self-proclaimed movie buff and consumer of all things popular culture, I have quite literally spent most of my life watching him in a range of roles and genres: high school football player, jazz musician, Drag Queen, futuristic villain and (perhaps most famously) vampire hunter! In honor of his 60th birthday, here are 5 reasons why this actor, author and black belt martial artist deserves his flowers and more.

Although not the lead, Snipes stole the scene each time he appeared on screen in Wildcats, a comedy starring Goldie Hawn as the head football coach at a Chicago high school. Snipes’s turn as Trumaine is as memorable as the end credit rap; if you know, you know and right now you’re probably singing the hook, ”it's the sport of kings, better than diamond rings....” 

Nino Brown is probably one of the most hated movie villains ever created and a stark representation of the ravages of drugs, crime and poverty on urban life. Wesley’s iconic portrayal in New Jack City has earned the character the distinction of being one of Time magazine’s top 10 pop-culture gangsters of all time. 

Flipper Purify, a Black architect, begins an affair with his Italian American temporary worker in this controversial film (directed by Spike Lee) about interracial dating. Jungle Fever (a negative term for attraction between races) explores racial stereotypes, racism and the impact of family backgrounds on the development of relationships. 

Wesley stars as Noxeema Jackson, an award winning and ground-breaking Drag Queen who embarks with friends on a cross-country drive to the Miss Drag Queen of America pageant in Hollywood, California in To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar, a comedy about self-acceptance and tolerance.  

Snipes displays his superior martial arts skills in not one but three movies based on the Marvel Comic’s half vampire/half human “daywalking” vampire hunter Blade.  

The titles highlighted here represent a small sampling of the numerous movies and television shows he has acted in. What are your favorite Wesley Snipes roles?