"Nelsan has passed away after complications with heart failure," Ellis' manager Emily Gerson Saines, told THR. "He was a great talent, and his words and presence will be forever missed."
"Nelsan was a singular talent whose creativity never ceased to amaze me. Working with him was a privilege," True Blood creator Alan Ball 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."
Besides his role in True Blood, Ellis also portrayed Martin Luther King, Jr. in The Butler, Henry the Waiter in The Help and sideman Bobby Byrd in the James Brown biopic Get On Up.
Octavia Spencer, who was Ellis' co-star in The Help and Get On Up, shared her condolences on Instagram.
"Just got word that we lost (Nelsan Ellis). My heart breaks for his kids and family," she said, adding that he was a brilliant actor.
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Photo Credit: HBO