With sleek, well-muscled good looks that easily lend themselves to romantic leading roles or parts that call for running, jumping, and handling firearms, Wesley Snipes became one of the most popular Hollywood stars of the 1990s. First coming to prominence with roles in Spike Lee's Mo' Better Blues and Jungle Fever, Snipes went on to prove himself as an actor who could appeal to audiences as a man that women want and men want to be.
Born in Orlando, FL, on July 31, 1962, Snipes grew up in the Bronx. He developed an early interest in acting and attended Manhattan's High School for the Performing Arts. His mother moved him back to Florida before he could graduate, but after finishing up high school in Florida, Snipes attended the State University of New York-Purchase and began pursuing an acting career. It was while performing in a competition that he was discovered by an agent, and a short time later he made his film debut in the Goldie Hawn vehicle Wildcats (1986). Although he appeared in a few more films during the 1980s, it was Snipes' turn as a street tough who menaces Michael Jackson in the Martin Scorsese-directed video for "Bad" that caught the eye of director Lee. He was so impressed with the actor's performance that he cast him in his 1990 Mo' Better Blues as a flamboyant saxophonist opposite Denzel Washington. That role, coupled with the exposure that Snipes had received for his performance as a talented but undisciplined baseball player in the previous year's Major League, succeeded in giving the actor a tentative plot on the Hollywood map. With his starring role in Lee's 1991 Jungle Fever, Snipes won critical praise and increased his audience exposure, and his career duly took off.