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Nelsan Ellis Biography

Nelsan Ellis

Facts of Nelsan Ellis

Name Nelsan Ellis
Birth Name Nelsan Ellis
Father Tommie Lee Thompson
Mother Jackie Ellis
Nationality American
Birth Place/City Harvey, Illnois
Religion Christian
Ethnicity African-American
Profession Actor
Net Worth $3 million
Hair Color Black
Face Color Black
Famous for True Blood
Married Yes
Married to Tiffany Snow
Children 2
Education Thornridge High School, Dolton
Awards Satellite Award , NAACP Image Award
Movies Get On Up, The Butler, True to the Game, Roxanne Roxanne
TV Show The Inside, True Blood, Elementary, RuPaul's Drag Race
Died July 8, 2017

Quick Timeline of Nelsan Ellis

1977 Born in Harvey, Illinois
1997 Graduated from Thornridge High School
2000 Enrolled at Juilliard
2000 Began his career with Lost
2005 Starred in Warm Springs
2007 Lafayette Reynolds in True Blood
2008 Sattelite Award for Best Supporting Actor
2011 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor
2017 Died in 8 July, 2017

Detail Timeline of Nelsan Ellis

November 30 , 1977

Born in Harvey, Illinois

Nelsan Ellis was born on November 20, 1977, to parents Jackie Ellis and Tommie Lee Thompson in Harvey, Illinois.


Graduated from Thornridge High School

Nelson Ellis graduated in the year 1997, from Thornridge High School in Dolton, Illinois. He was living with his maternal aunt at that time.


Enrolled at Juilliard

Nelsan was 22, in the year 2000 when he was enrolled at Julliard, wher he became friends with Rutina Wesley, who later became his colleague in True Blood.


Began his career with Lost

Nelsan began his acting career in the start of 2000, where he landed himself a role in a short film Lost.


Starred in Warm Springs

After his role in the Lost, he began booking role for films and television and finally got a role in 2005 in Warm Springs.


Lafayette Reynolds in True Blood

In mid-2007 Nelsan got a role of Lafayette Reynolds for True Blood, which turned out be the biggest role of his career.


Sattelite Award for Best Supporting Actor

In 2008, Nelsan received the Sattelite Award from the International Press Academy for best supporting actor for his role in True Blood.


NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor

In 2011, he won the NAACP Image Award for the category of Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series for his role in True Blood.

July 8 , 2017

Died in 8 July, 2017

Ellis died at the age of 39 on 8 July 2017 in Woodhull Medical Center, New York after complications from heart failure.


Nelsan Ellis was an American actor and a playwright who is well known for the portrayal of the character of Lafayette Reynolds for True Blood, an HBO television series.

Nelson Ellis Early Life, Education

Nelson was born in Harvey, Illinois on November 30, 1977, to parents Jackie Ellis and Tommy Lee Thompson, who divorced later after some years of his birth. His mother also had a mental breakdown after the death of her brother.

Ellis along with his sister were raised by their grandmother in Bessemer, Alabama. He is of American nationality and belongs to African-American ethnicity.

In Alabama, he attended Jess Lanier High School for a year before transferring to McAdory High School.

Ellis moved back to his hometown Illinois, at 15 where he started living with his aunt and attended Thornridge High School from where he graduated in 1997. He was then enrolled at Juilliard from where he earned a degree in Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2004.

Career as an Actor: Movies & TV Works

Ellis was still in his college when he started his acting career, with a role in Lost, a short film. It was not until 2005 when he landed a role in television film Warm Springs. He then portrayed the role, Carter Howard, for The Inside. He also did a few guest roles in 2007 for Veronica Mars and Without a Trace

It was then Ellis got his huge break in the role of Lafayette Reynolds, for True Blood, a TV show which was premiered on HBO on September 7, 2008. The show ran for a total of 7 seasons and concluded in 2014.

The series has helped him win a Satellite Award for best-supporting actor and was also nominated for Screen Actors Guild Award and a Scream Award 2009. He has starred as Shinwell Johnson for the CBS series, Elementary as well.

Apart from his roles in television series, he has also made a few appearances in big-screen movies like the biopic, Get on Up in which he portrayed the role of Bobby Byrd. The movie was directed by renowned director Tate Taylor and stars Chadwick Boseman as James Brown.

His notable roles also include the portrayal of Martin Luther King Jr. in The Butler. He has co-starred with many famous actors like Jammie Foxx in the Soloist (2009), The Secretariat(2010) with Diane Lane, who once dated Jon Bon Jovi and with Jessica Chastain in The Help. His last film was True to the Game, adapted from the novel of the same name by Teri Woods' published in 1992.

Married Life & Children

Ellis was married to Tiffany Snow, and together they had two children; son Breon Ellis and daughter. The actor had his personal life secluded from the eyes of the world.

There were no details regarding his marriage or any of his affairs. But it was once rumored that Ellis might be gay, because of the role he portrayed in True Blood, but it was all a hoax. 


Nelson died an untimely death on July 8, 2017, and was just 39 years of age at the time. His family claimed that Ellis was struggling with alcoholism and was trying to free himself from its traumas, which ultimately led to an alcohol withdrawal syndrome and thus died.

Net Worth

Nelsan Ellis' net worth was estimated to be $3 million at the time of his death. His acting career might have helped him to build up such a high figure of net worth.