An illuminating list of favorite films shares not only where the author has been, but who they are. Whether it’s the Moves, the Look, the Struggle or the Inspiration—Wesley Snipes’ choices tell us about who has influenced him, what guides him, and the variety of ways that movies affect him.
Going back, thinking about some of my faves makes me want to watch them all again. I encourage you to watch with friends, enjoy and follow me on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram — I might be watching them along with you.
I was living in an environment like this and I could relate to Diahann as the Mom. She was trying to figure out her struggle, relationships, her and her kids’ challenges on the streets and in what looked like a 500-square-foot or smaller living space. Filmed in the Sugar Hill area of Harlem—that was a place I knew. I was familiar with where her apartment was, near Edgecombe Avenue and 142nd Street, the intersection of the Spanish, Afro Cubans, etc. That final scene of them holding hands, united as they walk down the middle of the street full of joy, victorious—that was aspirational. I could relate and Diahann’s smile is what I prayed and hoped for for my own Mom. The acting was spectacular: the kids, James, Diahann and their story was real for me. I think about the people there today, during this pandemic and time of isolation, and how they are dealing with small living spaces and tough times. What do the people do in the projects—how do they quarantine? The hallways of those buildings are the guest rooms, another open living area for many. The brothers and sisters gather in the hallways. It’s tight moving through them, they need to take the elevators, move up and down the back stairs, close quarters. I feel them and my prayers are with them.
I remember when I was at Albert Einstein High School, I had a crush on a white girl named Carmen. And she knew it. My cousin was friends with her, I mean hangin’ around together, going to eat at White Castle, him always telling stories about her and how much fun they were having. I asked my cousin, “What is her issue? I mean, ya’ll are friends.” My cuz grabbed a black pen and held it up to his face and basically said, “Wesley, she said how would she look going out with something like this.” Well, “Cooley High,” I think this may have been the first film in which I cried. When Glynn Turman swung around that pole and he was talking to the girl, you could tell she was starting to vibe on him and then they hooked up…that was it. Glynn was this fresh chocolate guy crushing on a light-skinned girl. In that era, that was a big, bold deal. I wanted to be Glynn Turman at that moment.
I studied the actors’ body movements, all gifts in motion, using maneuvers to define their characters. Gene Kelly is amazing and to me, a true, what I call “BMM” — body movement master.
I began my career in musical theater with a passion for singing and dancing. I’ve had roles in many performances of “West Side Story” and won many awards from those roles. I had some of the most fun auditions and rehearsals, and gathered many great friends and memories in my life. That opportunity to be a part of the story was inspired by watching the film from an early age.
Sidney Poitier, Harry Belafonte, Flip Wilson, Richard Pryor, Bill Cosby—no need to say much more. The clothes: I was all about it. Sophisticated, elegant, classy, each character had a style, all for me about the cool factor. I enjoyed the “buddy flick” nature of the film as well. A bunch of brothers trying to figure it out and get their hustle on. What were they gonna do… smooth – COOL.
I’ve always admired Bruce Lee, Jim Kelly, Jackie Chan. “Five Deadly Venoms” was an incredible martial arts film including more “BMM” (body movement masters) that were entertaining. I’ve watched it hundreds of times, studying their movements, attempting to figure out why they did what they did and how they might have kicked the injuries they incurred. There was a different energy/martial arts style in this film. It’s an action-packed drama mystery where a student of a dying martial arts master is told to seek out and find his other students and defeat the evil ones among them.