Nelsan Ellis Bio, Wiki, Net Worth, Cause of Death & Controversy

Who Is Nelsan Ellis ?

Nelsan Ellis is an American actor and an occasional playwright. He gained fame after playing a supporting character in the HBO original series, True Blood, as well as the CBS show Elementary. He has won several awards for his acting roles, including a Satellite Award in 2008. He does mostly television work, although he has also appeared in several films – Mostly portraying historical African-American figures. These films have also received praise from critics.

Career Focus: Acting

Popular Works: [Television] True Blood (2008-2014, HBO), Elementary (2012-Present, CBS), Without A Trace (2002-2009, CBS), RuPaul’s Drag Race (2009-Present, Logo TV), [Film] The Help (2011, Tate Taylor), The Butler (2013, Lee Daniels), Get On Up (2014, Tate Taylor), The Stanford Prison Experiment (2015, Kyle Alvarez), Lost (2002, Director unknown), Roxanne Roxanne (2018, Michael Larnell), True To The Game (2017, Preston A. Whitmore II)

Date of Birth: 30-11-1977 (Died: 08-07-2017)

Current State & Country: Brooklyn, New York, USA

Nationality: American

Home State & Country: Harvey, Illinois, USA

Height: 5’10”

Weight: 156 lbs.

Net Worth Income: $3,000,000

Educational Credentials: Jess Lanier High School, McAdory High School, Thornridge High School, Illinois State University. He was also a student at the prestigious Julliard Performing Arts School in New York, where he majored in Fine Arts.

Ellis was diagnosed with dyslexia in second grade. But this disability didn’t stop him from pursuing his love of scriptwriting – He took up scriptwriting and became a playwright during his Julliard days. Before enrolling in college, Ellis entered the US Marines but quit shortly to pursue his education.

Career History of Nelsan Ellis

He started his acting career in the early 2000s. His very first role was in this short film released in 2002, entitled Lost. There isn’t much info about this project, as well as his second film role as Donny in Trespass, released in 2005. After his appearance in those two short films, Ellis decided to take his acting career a bit more seriously, auditioning and booking for roles in both television and films. In 2005, he played the role of Roy Collier in the TV film Warm Springs, which was directed by Joseph Sargent. In the same year, Ellis portrayed Carter Howard in another crime-based TV series, The Inside. Unfortunately, the show only ran for one season on Fox before it was cancelled. This was followed by guest stints in two of the most popular shows in the 2000s: CBS’ Without a Trace, and UPS’ Veronica Mars.

Ellis landed his big break when he played Lafayette Reynolds, a cook, drug dealer, and medium in the hit HBO series, True Blood. In the series, Lafayette is a part of Jason Stackhouse (portrayed by Ryan Kwanten)’s crew. He is also related to another character in the show, Tara Thornton (portrayed by Ellis’ friend and fellow Julliard classmate, Rutina Wesley). True Blood was a huge hit for HBO. It was based after The Southern Vampire Series novels, written by Charlaine Harris. True Blood ran for seven seasons. Joining Ellis are Anna Paquin, Stephen Moyer, Sam Trammell, Chris Bauer, Jim Parrack, Adina Porter, and William Sanderson. Ellis soon won a Best Supporting Actor Satellite Award in 2008 for his performance in the show, then in 2011, he received the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series.

Even though he mostly appeared on TV, Ellis also played roles in several films. This included 2008’s The Express, 2009’s The Soloist, and 2010’s Secretariat. Perhaps one of his most memorable roles in film was his portrayal of 60s civil rights movement icon Martin Luther King Jr. in Lee Daniels’ film, The Butler. The year after, Ellis was seen in another biographical drama – Tate Taylor’s Get On Up.

Ellis returned to television in 2016 and 2017, playing Shinwell Johnson in the CBS procedural detective series, Elementary. Elementary is an American take on Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories. After Ellis himself died, his character passed away in the series as well. Two of his films were released posthumously: The first being 2017’s True to the Game, directed by Preston A. Whitmore II, and the second one is Michael Larnell’s Roxanne Roxanne, released in 2018.

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Personal Life of Nelsan Ellis

Ellis was born and raised in Harvey, Illinois. His parents are Tommie Lee Thompson and Jackie Ellis. He had a few siblings as well – Six in total. It’s safe to say that Ellis had a sad childhood. Tommie left Jackie and the kids when Ellis was still young, so she raised them as a single mother. Then after Ellis’ uncle died, Jackie suffered from a nervous breakdown. Him and his siblings were sent to their grandmother in Bessemer, Alabama.

Ellis was married to a woman named Tiffany Snow, and they had two kids together – An unnamed daughter, and a son named Breon. Not much information is known about Snow or his children. He passed away at the young age of 39 on July 8, 2017, at the Woodhull Medical Center in Brooklyn, New York. The first episode of Elementary’s sixth season was dedicated to his memory.

Net Worth of Nelsan Ellis

Ellis has earned over $3,000,000 thanks to his acting stints on both film and television. Most of his films were also praised by critics, with some even receiving Oscar nominations. He has had only one endorsement throughout his career – For Ray Ban sunglasses.

Controversial News On The Life & Career Of Nelsan Ellis

In a statement released by Snow, Ellis’ cause of death was related to his drug and alcohol addiction. He had gone to rehab several times to sort out this issue, but was unsuccessful. Ellis had also tried going cold turkey with the drugs and alcohol, which led to him being sent to the hospital. He refused to talk to anyone in his family or seek help from a professional because of the shame that he felt over his habits. His official cause of death is listed as severe complications due to alcohol withdrawal symptoms.

During his Julliard days, Ellis wrote a drama called Ugly, which talked about the devastating effects of domestic abuse. The play was inspired by the death of his sister, Alice, who was shot by her abusive husband in 2002. Ellis won several awards after staging the play in 2002, including the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.

Rumors And Frequently Asked Questions About Nelsan Ellis

Despite being a straight man who is married to a woman, Ellis’ character in True Blood is openly gay. The show’s creator, Alan Ball, was worried that Lafayette’s sexuality would overshadow what his character really was about. In an interview, Ellis said that it took him a while to get into his character, and based Lafayette’s mannerisms over how his mother and sister behaved. Listening to singer Rihanna also helped. Lafayette is one of the handful of characters in the show to appear on every single episode.

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