Spent part of his childhood in Bessemer, AL, before returning to his native Illinois for high school.
Credited two high school teachers---Tim Sweeney and Bill Kirksey---with steering him toward the performing arts. Got hooked on acting as a freshman after Sweeney cast him as Junie in a production of George C. Wolfe's play The Colored Museum.
Wrote UGLy, a play about domestic violence, after his sister Alice was murdered by her husband. The play won the Lincoln Center's Martin E. Segal Award.
Was a year ahead of True Blood costar Rutina Wesley at Juilliard.
Wrote, executive produced and starred in Trespass (2005), one of five finalists for the 2006 HBO Short Film Award at the American Black Film Festival (ABFF).
2009, Screen Actors Guild Awards — Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series: Nominee
Jackie Ellis — Mother
Breon Ellis — Son
Alice — Sister
Tommy Thompson — Father
Attended Illinois State University, Normal, Illinois, United States; The Juilliard School, New York, New York, United States (BFA, 2004)