Mario Cain Van Peebles was born in Mexico City, Mexico on January 15, 1957 and is the son of writer, director, and actor Melvin Van Peebles and German actress and photographer Maria Marx. He graduated from Saint Thomas More School in Connecticut in 1974 and from Columbia University in 1978 with a bachelor’s degree in economics.
Mario Van Peebles is a highly regarded director, actor, producer, and writer. His directorial skills can be seen in the retelling of the epic mini-series Roots (2016) starring Forest Whitaker and Matthew Goode. Van Pebbles has directed award-winning shows such as the recent hit Empire and The Last Ship, as well as Sons of Anarchy, Lost, Damages, and Boss. As an actor Van Peebles has credits that are equally as impressive.
His many talents can be seen in films like his directorial breakout hit New Jack City(1991), Posse (1993), and Panther (1995); plus Michael Mann’s Oscar-nominated Ali(started in 1993 but finally released in 2001), in which he received critical acclaim for his role as real-life minister and human rights activist Malcolm X; the multi-award-winning Cotton Club (1984) written and directed by Francis Ford Coppola; Clint Eastwood’s Heartbreak Ridge (1986); and several projects with director Ava DuVernay.
Throughout his career, Van Peebles has brought challenging, compelling material to the screen, including his hip-hop coming-of-age film We the Party (2012), which he wrote, directed and produced; his documentary short Bring Your ‘A’ Game (2009); and, of course, Baadasssss! (2003), which was his odyssey about the making of his father’s groundbreaking film Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song (1971). Film critics Roger Ebert and Richard Roeper named it one of the ten best movies of the year for 2004.
In 1994, Hofstra University awarded Van Peebles an honorary doctorate of humane letters. After earning a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Columbia University, Van Peebles spent two years working at New York‘s Department of Environmental Protection before moving to Hollywood to try his hand at acting writing and directing.
Mario Van Peebles is married to Chitra Sukhu Van Peebles and they have five children, Makaylo, Mandela, Marley, Maya, and Morgana. Mario Van Peebles now lives in Los Angeles, California.