Actor Nelsan Ellis passed away today at the age of 39. He’s known for his critically-acclaimed role on the show True Blood.
Nelsan’s manager says that the actor died as a result of heart failure complications.
“Nelsan has passed away after complications with heart failure,” said his manager Emily Gerson Saines. “He was a great talent, and his words and presence will be forever missed.”
Nelsan Ellis was born in Harvey, Illinois, on November 30, 1977. At the age of 17, he joined the United States Marine Corp, but quit shortly thereafter. Ellis an education in acting at Juilliard School, as he earned a bachelor’s of fine arts.
In 2007, Ellis was cast in the pilot of HBO’s True Blood. His role was that of a short order cook and drug dealer named Lafayette Reynolds. This role earned Ellis numerous awards, including a Satellite Award for best supporting actor.
In 2012, Ellis portrayed Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in a supporting role for the film The Butler. A year later, he was cast to play Bobby Byrd in a bio-pic about the life of James Brown, entitled Get On Up.