Snipes is a big screen movie star, famous for films like Major League, the Blade trilogy, Expendables 3, and my personal favorite, Demolition Man. He recently paid a visit to the Southeastern Institute of Manufacturing and Technology (SiMT) in South Carolina, where he is working out a partnership with Florence-Darlington Technical College (FDTC). Snipes currently has multiple projects in the development stage with SiMT, and he wanted to meet with some of the professors and students, as well as visit some classrooms on campus.
Dr. Ben Dillard, FDTC president, said, “He brings so much enthusiasm and so much talent and so many ideas of how we can partner.”
SiMT vice-president Mark Roth said that Snipes will be working with the school in the 3D Interactive Production Studio, and the area of additive manufacturing. According to the FDTC website, the SiMT is home to the only commercially available metal 3D printer in the Southeast, and also has the region’s most advanced 3D virtual reality production studio and additive manufacturing center.
There’s also an Incubator Meeting Room and Lounge, and a huge Advanced Manufacturing Arena for work on rapid prototyping and additive manufacturing. Staff engineers work with students in the cutting-edge facility to come up with new products, manufacture precision parts, and produce virtual training experiences.
After a tour, Snipes enjoyed a private lunch on campus, and afterward talked about how he got into the business through YMCA karate lessons after he saw the 1979 movie about New York gangs, The Warriors. This gave him a love for movement, and he was cast in a middle school production of Alice in Wonderland at age 10; he played the Mad Hatter.
Snipes said, “When I sat on top of the mushroom and acted like the mushroom was making me all crazy the whole school started to laugh. And I was like – hmmm, this works.”
He was eventually accepted into New York’s prestigious Performing Arts High School, but his family later moved to Florida, where he continued acting in school plays before attending the State University of New York in Purchase, which is part of a consortium of schools that is focused entirely on the fine arts. After graduation, he began looking for professional work and got his start in soap operas, and later went on to the big screen. Snipes said that he tried to quit show business multiple times, but an encounter with an African exchange student who recognized him forced him to change his thinking. The student, who lived in England, told Snipes that “as a black man, he got no respect.”
Snipes explained, “So he says to me, I don’t want you to ever stop what you’re doing. Because you don’t know how you affect people…When I’m in England, they don’t respect me. They don’t see me, I’m invisible. But after you do your movie…they see me as a man. When I walk down the street, they look at me and say, you look like Wesley Snipes.”
Snipes obviously took the student’s words to heart, and kept working. In addition to his acting career, Snipes continued to study martial arts, and also co-authored a supernatural novel called Talon of God, which will be published this summer. Now he can add this additive manufacturing partnership to his resume as well. While he was visiting SiMT, he also took the opportunity to meet with students at Darlington Middle School, to discuss acting, movie production, and focusing on goals.This is definitely not the first time we’ve seen celebrities involved with cutting-edge technology: Jay Leno drove Local Motors’ 3D printed Strati car back in 2015, and you can take a walk in LeBron James’ basketball shoes with Samsung’s Oculus-powered Gear VR. Prince, may he rest in peace, was even laid to rest in a 3D printed Foreverence urn. But I think it’s wonderful when actors as well-known as Wesley Snipes take it upon themselves to use their celebrity to shine a light on both education and 3D printing. I hope we see more partnerships like his with SiMT and FDTC in the future.SCNow / Images: FDTC via Facebook]