I loved him so much as that powerful queen Lafayette Reynolds on HBO’s True Blood, and then he blew me away playing an entirely different sort of character in Elementary on CBS.
Nelsan Ellis was taken by complications from heart failure. He was just 39-years-old.
Alan Ball, creator and executive producer of True Blood:
“Nelsan was a singular talent whose creativity never ceased to amaze me. Working with him was a privilege.”
Born outside Chicago, Ellis grew-up with his aunt in Alabama before moving back to Chicago when he was 15-years-old. When he was 17-years-old, he joined the U.S Marines. He received a B.F.A. from The Juilliard School.
“The studies were so intense and the institution is so white, and I’m a black man from the South with a very specific vernacular and palate .I felt like an alien, and I struggled the first couple of years. But it transformed who I am as an actor and a person.”
He had featured roles in Secretariat (2010), The Help (2011), as Martin Luther King Jr. in Lee Daniel’s The Butler (2013), and as Bobby Byrd in the James Brown biopic Get On Up (2014)
But he was most noted for his stand-out work as fierce gay short order cook Lafayette on True Blood for 80 episodes in seven seasons.
Ellis won the NewNowNext’s “Brink Of Fame” Award and a NAACP Image Award.
For the past two seasons, he was amazing in a lead role as an ex-con on Elementary. He was a guest judge on World Of Wonder’s RuPaul’s Drag Race.
He will be missed.