Nelsan Ellis the Man Inside Lafayette

July 19, 2009 by  

nelsan-ellis-wenn-photosAlan Ball should know how fortunate he is to have the opportunity to showcase a thespian of Nelsan Ellis’ caliber on HBO‘s True Blood. We use the term “thespian” because that truly represents Ellis’ potential, which we are willing to bet far exceeds any “box” in which he could be placed. Not only is he an increasingly popular actor, he also wrote the award winning play “Ugly”, partly based on Ellis’ personal experiences. “Ugly” was born while Ellis was attending the prestigious Julliard.

Born in Harvey, Illinois, Ellis moved to Alabama after his parents divorced during his early childhood. He moved back to Illinois as a teen and graduated from high school in 1997.

Ellis is one of those rare entertainers who seem to come along once in a lifetime. He not only brings the character of Lafayette to life, he seems to have the keen ability to put a show on the map. True Blood is by far one of the most fascinating shows to ever grace a television screen, but let’s not mince words – Ellis is clearly a force with which to be reckoned. In the tradition of Paul Newman, Billy Dee Williams, Robert Redford, and Denzel Washington, Nelsan Ellis brings to the screen, extreme talent, versatility, intelligent wit, and a fierce sense of himself. Combine those qualities with a cup of the intensity exhibited by Lafayette, a tablespoon of sweet southern charm and a dash of Ellis’ Chicagoland swagger and you have yourself a recipe for the spicy gumbo that is destined to accompany a long and fruitful career in the entertainment industry. Nelsan Ellis is not an acquired taste; he is the type of actor with which you can identify from the moment his image is displayed on the screen. He won a Satellite Award in 2008 from the International Press Academy for best supporting actor for his role as Lafayette Reynolds. He also won the “Brink of Fame: Actor” award at the 2009 NewNext Now Awards in 2009. We see countless awards in Nelsan’s bright future and we know that the sky is the limit for him.

lafayette-chainedWe can only imagine Lafayette’s sassy, strong demeanor going head to head with Eric’s matter-of-fact personality. It would be interesting to see a real confrontation between the two – one in which Lafayette would have an opportunity to really show Eric who is boss.

We hope Mr. Ball recognizes his diamond in the rough and keeps him around for as long as Lafayette can stand the heat coming from Merlotte’s kitchen. More importantly, we long to see Nelsan Ellis land the roles we know he can play with spectacular accuracy, all the while adding to it his special brand of spice.


  1. True Blood …. Lafayette Reynolds (22 episodes, 2008-2009)
    Frenzy (2009)
    TV episode …. Lafayette Reynolds
    New World in My View (2009)
    TV episode …. Lafayette Reynolds
    I Will Rise Up (2009)
    TV episode …. Lafayette Reynolds
    Time bomb (2009)
    TV episode …. Lafayette Reynolds
    Release Me (2009)
    TV episode …. Lafayette Reynolds
    (17 more)
  2. The Soloist (2009) …. David
  3. The Express (2008) …. Will Davis, Jr.
    … aka The Express: The Ernie Davis Story (USA: promotional title)
  4. “Without a Trace” …. Deng Nimieri (1 episode, 2007)
    … aka “W.A.T” (USA: short title)
    Lost Boy (2007)
    TV episode …. Deng Nimieri
  5. “Veronica Mars” …. Apollo Bukenya (1 episode, 2007)
    I Know What You’ll Do Next Summer (2007)
    TV episode …. Apollo Bukenya
  6. Trespass (2005) …. Donny
  7. “The Inside” …. Carter Howard (13 episodes, 2005)
    Declawed (2005)
    TV episode …. Carter Howard
    Loneliest Number (2005)
    TV episode …. Carter Howard
    Thief of Hearts (2005)
    TV episode …. Carter Howard
    Everything Nice (2005)
    TV episode …. Carter Howard
    Pre-Filer (2005)
    TV episode …. Carter Howard
    (8 more)
  8. Warm Springs (2005) (TV) …. Roy Collier
  9. Lost (2002/I) …. Hoffa


  1. Flower Shop (2006) (executive producer)
  2. Trespass (2005) (executive producer) (producer)

Miscellaneous Crew:

  1. Ornaments (2008) (production assistant)


  1. Trespass (2005) (writer)

Source: IMDB
(Photo Credit: Nelsan: Wenn Photos; Lafayette: HBO)

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  • Arlene Culpepper

    He is extremely talented. Let’s hope he is not going anywhere for a long, long time.

  • Thanks for the article on one of my fave characters from True Blood! I am so glad that his character survived beyond Charlaine Harris’ original storyline! We recently saw “The Soloist” and “The Express” and it was so much fun to see him in these movies! Since I got my hubby and sister-in-law hooked on True Blood – it was easy for everyone to recognize him! He stands out in any role he is in! He’s a very talented actor, and I’m so glad to see that he’s winning some awards for his talent!

  • I am glad you all liked the article. He is certainly my favorite, though the others are good as well.

  • pbartteacher

    Wonderful article about Nelsan. How will we ever forget the infamous dance scene after receiving Eric’s “elixir of 1000 year old blood”. Those images will forever be burned into my memory and a I’m sure everyone else. Whenever he is on the screen he seems to elevate the entire scene. He has such a swagger and sense of who he is on the screen. I totally enjoy watching this character. Alan Ball definitely made the right decision by keeping this character is this series. As Lafayette says”Thank you baby, thank you baby, thank you baby” as while doing the worm dance.

  • THANK YOU Arlene,I LOVE THIS CHARACTER Lafayette on the screen even for a second can convey so much through facial expression and body language, his dramatic side was more fully conveyed in scenes in and following his release from the dungeon.They were so painful to watch….. it was reminiscent of the slave ships, and impossible to get out of my head. His strength of character rallied to survive and even managed to manipulate in such a weakened state.When he got home and was by himself he finally broke and let out the pain you knew was inside something his character would never let someone see.That in itself was an Emmy worthy performance. YES I AM PISSED AT THE SHOW BEING SNUBBED! OK had to say that,much better thanks 🙂