|Nelsan Ellis (image via Instagram)|
Variety is reporting that Nelsan Ellis, famous for his role as the out and proud Lafayette Reynolds on HBO’s True Blood, has passed away at the age of 39 due to complications from heart failure.
“We were extremely saddened to hear of the passing of Nelsan Ellis,” HBO said in a statement. “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. Nelsan will be dearly missed by his fans and all of us at HBO.”
Ellis had joined the cast of CBS’ Elementary this season. Other prominent roles included The Help, Get On Up, Little Boxes and The Butler.
Ellis graduated from Juilliard with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2004.
Ellis is survived by his son, Breon, as well as seven siblings.
Ellis’ work on True Blood was exemplary for many reasons. Up front, “Lafayette” made it clear that although the character was gay, he was not “a victim.”
One of my favorite “Lafayette” scenes from True Blood:
RIP Nelsan Ellis who played Lafayette Reynolds on True Blood & gave us this iconic scene pic.twitter.com/AExLxYXIzx
— KUNTYEWEST (@kuntyewest) July 8, 2017
Crushed today by the loss of my friend and castmate Nelsan Ellis. He was a wonderful person, a pioneer, and a one of a kind artist. RIP pic.twitter.com/fvtquhIac7— Joe Manganiello (@JoeManganiello) July 8, 2017
I don't know if I've ever seen the level of humility and kindness that came with the Magnificent Talent that Nelsan Ellis had. Miss u friend— Sam Trammell (@SamTrammell) July 8, 2017
Very disturbed and sad that Nelsan Ellis has died. Such a huge talent. Such a wonderful man. The world is a poorer place today…— Denis O'Hare (@denisohare) July 8, 2017
Just got word that we lost @nelsanellisofficial. My heart breaks for his kids and family. #RIPNelsanEllis. #brillIantactor #trueblood #getonup #thesoloist #thehelpA post shared by Octavia Spencer (@therealoctaviaspencer) on Jul 8, 2017 at 11:43am PDT