'True Blood' Actor, Former ISU Student Nelsan Ellis Dies at 39

Jul 10, 2017

Former Illinois State University student Nelsan Ellis, best known for his role on HBO's True Blood, has died.

The actor is best known for playing Lafayette Reynolds on True Blood. He was just 39 when he succumbed to complications from heart failure. His manager confirmed the news, first carried by The Hollywood Reporter.

Ellis visited ISU in 2013, when he received a distinguished alumni award. Ellis won a national forensics title and distinguished himself in the School of Theatre and Dance while attending ISU.

Ellis appeared as Martin Luther King, Jr. in Lee Daniels' The Butler. He played Bobby Byrd in the James Brown biographical movie, Get On Up. And he appeared in The Help.

The Help cast member Octavia Spencer noted his death on Instagram, saying her "heart breaks for his kids and family."

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