RIP Nelson Ellis

True Blood, has died at the age of 39 after complications from heart failure. “Nelsan has passed away after complications with heart failure,” the actor’s manager Emily Gerson Saines, told the Hollywood Reporter. instant laons “He was a great talent, and his words and presence will be forever missed.” A graduate of Julliard, Ellis’ first major role was as Lafayette Reynolds, a short order cook and vampire blood dealer on the hit HBO series. Ellis’ portrayal of the character was so beloved by True Blood fans of the series that even though Lafayette was killed off early in the Sookie Stackhouse book series, the character lasted the entirety of the show.

In addition to True Blood, Ellis appeared Lee Daniels’ The Butler (as Martin Luther King, Jr.), Secretariat, The Help, The Stanford Prison Experiment and as singer Bobby Byrd in the James Brown biopic Get On Up. Most recently, Ellis had a reoccurring role in the CBS detective series Elementary. Ellis was born in Harvey, Illinois, near Chicago. When Ellis and his siblings were younger, their mother, a single parent after her divorce from her husband, broke down over the death of her brother. Ellis and his siblings became wards of the state as a result. They were then raised in Bessemer, Alabama, by their grandmother. In Alabama, Ellis attended Jess Lanier High School for a year, then transferred to McAdory High School. He moved back to Illinois at age 15, where he lived with his maternal aunt, and in 1997 he graduated from Thornridge High School in Dolton, Illinois. He joined the United States Marines at the age of 17, but quit not long afterwards. Following this, Ellis attended Illinois State University.

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