Nelsan Ellis, the actor best-known for his role in HBO’s “True Blood” series has died of heart failure, his manager confirmed on Saturday.
He was 39.
“Nelsan has passed away after complications with heart failure,” his manager, Emily Gerson Saines, told the Hollywood Reporter. “He was a great talent, and his words and presence will be forever missed.”
“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 played Lafayette Reynolds on “True Blood,” a short order cook at Merlotte’s. He also appeared in shows and movies like “Veronica Mars,” “The Soloist,” “The Help” and “Lee Daniels’ The Butler.”
Fellow actors took to social media to share their shock and condolences at the news.
“My God, such a beautiful soul and talented artist,” Gabrielle Union tweeted. “Blown. Away.”
Ellis was born in Harvey, Ill. and graduated from Juilliard School. He is survived by his grandmother, father, and seven siblings.