‘True Blood’ Actor Nelsan Ellis Dies

Actor Nelsan Ellis died July 8 as a result of complications from heart failure at the age of 39.

Nelsan_Ellis_at_True_Blood_premiere_partyBy Kristin Dos Santos from Los Angeles, California, United States – Nelsan EllisUploaded by Tabercil, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7001152

Ellis is best known for his role of Lafayette in the supernatural drama “True Blood” where he played a short order cook for seven seasons in the HBO series. While the original Lafayette Reynolds died early on in the book series, producers were so enthralled by Ellis, they kept him on for 81 episodes. Ellis won two Emmy Awards, two Satellite Awards, and a NewNowNext Award for the role.

Nelsan_Ellis_at_True_Blood_premiere_party_(crop)By Kristin Dos Santos from Los Angeles, California, United StatesCropped and edited by Albin Olsson – Nelsan Ellis at True Blood premiere party.jpgNelsan EllisUploaded by Tabercil, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=60774049

After spending some time on the theatrical stage, Ellis made his screen acting debut in 2002 in the film short “Lost.” He made his film debut in 2005 in “Warm Springs” and went on to appear in “The Express,” “The Soloist,” “Secretariat,” as Henry The Waiter in “The Help,” “Reluctant Fundamentalist,” as Martin Luther King Jr. in Lee Daniels’ “The Butler,” “Gods Behaving Badly,” “The Stanford Prison Experiment” and “Little Boxes”.

On the television screen, Ellis first appeared in 13 episodes of “The Inside” and went on to appear in “Veronica Mars,” “Without a Trace,” “True Blood”, and as Shinwell Johnson in eleven episodes of “Elementary.” Ellis also appeared as a guest judge on an episode of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” in 2015.

Born Nelson Leon Ellis in Harvey, Illinois in 1978, he lived in Alabama and Illinois as a child. Later he attended Columbia College, Oxford University, and graduated from Julliard. Ellis began acting in high school. He spent a short time in the United States Marine Corps before leaving to work on his acting career.

Predeceased by his mother, Ellis is survived by his son Breon, grandmother Alex Brown, father Tommie Lee Thompson, aunt Tartheaia, and siblings – Lakeeia, Tommie Lee, Babon, Maurice, Tianna, Shaentika and Yvonne.

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