Nelsan Ellis, True Blood’s Lafayette, Dies at 39

Nelsan Ellis in a scene from True Blood. (HBO)
Nelsan Ellis in a scene from True Blood. (HBO)

Nelsan Ellis, who played the outspoken and gay short-order cook Lafayette Reynolds on HBO’s True Blood, has died after complications due to heart failure. He was 39.


According to the Hollywood Reporter, his manager, Emily Gerson Saines, delivered the news. “He was a great talent, and his words and presence will be forever missed,” she said.

“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 had most recently appeared on the TV series Elementary.

His True Blood co-stars and fans took to Twitter to express their heartbreak.


Genetta M. Adams is Managing Editor of The Root.

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True Blood annoyed me but I loved Lafayette just for the sheer IDGAF mentality. Ellis made that character so good that you could have placed Lafayette on any other show and he would have made him work. I’m really sad Ellis is gone. He was great.

RIP Brother