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Nelsan Ellis Biography

Birth Name:
Nelsan Narie Ellis
Birth Place:
Harvey, Illinois, United States
Actor, playwright, screenwriter, producer

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)


  • 2009Screen Actors Guild Awards-Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series: nominated


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