Nelsan Ellis

  • Birth Name: Nelsan Narie Ellis
  • Birth Place: Harvey, Illinois, United States
  • Died: July 8, 2017
  • Profession: Actor, Playwright, Screenwriter, Producer
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Fast Facts

  • 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


  • Alice — Sister
  • Tommy Thompson — Father
  • Breon Ellis — Son
  • Jackie Ellis — Mother


  • Attended Illinois State University, Normal, Illinois, United States; The Juilliard School, New York, New York, United States (BFA, 2004)

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