Nelsan Ellis, famous for playing Lafayette Reynolds in the HBO hit series “True Blood” died yesterday (08.07.2017) after complications from heart failure. He was 39 years old.
Ellis was born in 1977 and grew up between Chicago and Alabama. At the age of 17 he tried his luck joining the Marine Core but dropped out and five years later he was accepted to Juilliard and graduated in 2004. During his time there he made friends with later True Blood co-star Rutina Wesley.
True Blood brought Ellis his much sought after success. During the seven seasons he was part of the series, Ellis walked away with two Satellite Awards, an Ewwy for best supporting dramatic actor award and a NewNowNext Award for actor on the brink of fame.
Other than True Blood, Ellis was cast as Martin Luther King, Jr. in a supporting performance in Lee Daniels’ The Butler. In 2013 he joined the “Get on Up” cast, playing Bobby Byrd, Brown’s long-time friend.
“Crushed today by the loss of my friend and castmate Nelsan Ellis,” said “True Blood” costar Joe Manganiello. “He was a wonderful person, a pioneer, and a one of a kind artist. RIP.”
HBO released a statement saying the network was “extremely saddened” by Ellis’s death. “Nelsan was a long-time member of the HBO family whose groundbreaking portrayal of Lafayette will be remembered fondly within the overall legacy of True Blood,” the statement read. “Nelsan will be dearly missed by his fans and all of us at HBO.”
True Blood’s creator, Alan Ball, called Ellis “a singular talent whose creativity never ceased to amaze me. Working with him was a privilege.”