It is with a heavy heart that we announce actor Nelsan Ellis passed away yesterday at age 39. According to press sources he passed away as a result of heart failure. There is no information on any underlying condition at this time. He was best known for his role as Lafayette on True Blood and most recently as Shinwell Johnson on Elementary, but was a prolific actor and excelled in every role he took on.
Ellis was responsible for this iconic scene from True Blood:
I was personally enchanted by his performance in Elementary as the former gang member-turned-informant Shinwell Johnson. He brought a lot to a character that deserved more screen time than he got and it breaks my heart to think we won’t get to see him on the screen again in any role.
Off the screen his social media accounts were always filled with encouraging words and gratitude. He shared his joy with the world in a way that left a clear impact, if the fan response to his passing is any indicator. Ellis also left a mark on his colleagues and friends who took to Twitter to mourn his passing.
Nelsan Ellis will always be a treasured member of the Elementary family. Our hearts & prayers are w/his loved ones on this saddest of days.
— Elementary Writers (@ELEMENTARYStaff) July 8, 2017
— Anna Paquin (@AnnaPaquin) July 8, 2017
— Bryce Dallas Howard (@BryceDHoward) July 9, 2017
Nelsan Ellis was a gifted artist. We join his fans in remembering his accomplishments & extend our sympathies to his family and friends.
— Elementary (@Elementary_CBS) July 9, 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
We were extremely saddened to hear of the passing of Nelsan Ellis. He will be dearly missed by his fans and all of us at HBO.
— HBO (@HBO) July 8, 2017
Instead of flowers, the family has asked that donations be made to Jenesse Center Inc. which is a domestic violence intervention and prevention program as well as Restoration Ministries. The world lost not only a great artist, but a wonderful human being. Nelsan Ellis will be missed and our condolences go out to his friends and family.
He was one of a kind and gone too soon.