Who is Mario Van Peebles?
Mario Van Peebles is an American actor, director, writer and producer. He is the son of renowned filmmaker cum actor Melvin Van Peebles and German actress Maria Marx. He has displayed his directorial skills in the epic mini-series ‘Roots’, the documentary ‘Bring you’re a Game’ and the biopic ‘Baadasssss!’ in which he portrayed his father. As an actor, Van Peebles has garnered much success, most notably with the movies ‘Exterminator 2,’ ‘Jaws: The Revenge,’ ‘Delivery Boys,’ ‘New Jack City,’ and ‘Panther.’ Known for his compelling and challenging onscreen performances, he has established himself as a much popular character actor over the years. Besides acting, Van Peebles believes in supporting eco-consciousness and education and has developed many reality shows to promote these causes. He has won several accolades and honours including multiple Independent Spirit Award nominations.
Childhood & Early Life
Mario Van Peebles was born on January 15, 1957 in Mexico City, Mexico, to Melvin Van Peebles and Maria Marx. He has a brother named Max and a sister named Megan.
He attended Saint Thomas More School and later graduated from Columbia University with a degree in economics in 1978.
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Mario Van Peebles had his first screen appearance in 1968 when he was featured in the drama series ‘One Life to Live’. He next appeared in ‘Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song’, a 1971 action thriller featuring his father Melvin Van Peebles in the lead role.
He had a role in the series ‘The Sophisticated Gents’ in 1981. In 1984, the actor appeared as the main villain in the action flick ‘Exterminator 2’. That year, Van Peebles also did the crime-drama film ‘The Cotton Club’.
In 1985, he had his first lead role in the film ‘Rappin,' where played an ex-convict named Rappin' John Hood who tries to save his neighbourhood from hoodlums. This was followed by his appearance in the crime drama ‘L.A. Law’. In 1987, the actor was featured in the movie ‘Jaws: The Revenge’.
He played the main role in the short-lived series ‘Sonny Spoon’ (1988) which also marked his directorial debut as he directed one episode of the show. Soon after, Van Peebles directed the political drama ‘Top of the Hill’ as well as a few episodes of ‘21 Jump Street’, both of which aired in 1989.
He collaborated twice with Christopher Lambert in 1994, for the films ‘Gunmen’ and ‘Highlander III: The Sorcerer’. The following year, he directed and co-starred in the film ‘Panther’ which earned nominations for a PFS Award as well as a Golden Leopard.
Van Peebles commenced the new millennium with the drama series ‘Martial Law’ and ‘Rude Awakening’. In 2001, he co-starred in the biographical sports film ‘Ali’ and received a NAACP Image Award nomination for "Outstanding Supporting Actor."
He played the lead role in the made-for-television movie ‘Crown Heights’ in 2004. In 2007, he directed a few episodes of the series ‘Damages’ and also had a recurring role in the series.
He had an acting role in ABC’s ‘All My Children’ in 2008. In 2009, the actor starred in the reality television show ‘Mario's Green House’.
In 2012, he wrote, directed, and acted in the comedy flick ‘We the Party’ which focussed on five friends and their dealings with love, money, college, bullies, and sex. In the ensuing years, he directed ‘The Last Ship’, ‘Empire’ and ‘Being Mary Jane’.
He acted in the thriller web television series ‘Bloodline’ which aired in 2017. Also that year, he produced, created, directed and acted in the series ‘Superstition’.
Mario Van Peebles made his feature movie directorial debut with the 1991 African American gangster flick ‘New Jack City’. The film follows a rising drug lord and a detective who vows to stop his criminal activities by going undercover to work for his gang. The movie became the highest grossing independent project of that year and also garnered appreciation from the critics.
In 2003, Van Peebles wrote, produced, directed, and starred in the docudrama Baadasssss! The film describes the struggles of his father as he attempted to make his movie ‘Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song.’ The film was a success and earned several awards and nominations. Van Peebles, who portrayed his father in the movie, won numerous Black Reel Awards in various categories.
Family & Personal Life
Mario Van Peebles was earlier married to Lisa Vitello. The couple had two kids. Currently, he is married to Chittra Sukhu with whom he has three children.
His children are Morgana, Maya, Mandela, Makayla and Marley.