Born in Alabama, actor Nelsan Ellis was raised in the Chicago area. He soon discovered his passion for acting, when he attended the prestigious Juilliard School in New York after graduating from high school. While there, he found that acting was not his only interest. He became part of the drama division, even writing his own play at the time.
This was the semi-autobiographical Ugly, which was performed at the school. For this, he received the Martin Segal Award from the Lincoln Center. Proving himself even more, Ellis’Ugly was then performed at the Fringe Festival, Storm Theatre, and the Santa Monica Playhouse. In 2005, he performed at the Second Stage Theater, acting on the off-Broadway production titled A Soldier’s Story.
He was first seen on the HBO film Warm Springs, working alongside Kenneth Branagh, Cynthia Nixon and Kathy Bates. Even though he has appeared on that biographical drama on television, Nelsan Ellis rose to fame on the series The Inside. This marked his breakthrough into the industry, portraying Carter Howard on 13 episodes in 2005. This was followed by a part in the short drama Trespass, in which he is also the writer. While still working extensively in theater, Nelsan Ellis landed guest spots on a number of television shows. In 2007, he got the part of Apollo Bukenya on the Veronica Mars episode “I Know What You’ll Do Next Summer.” He followed this up with an appearance in Without a Trace, portraying Deng Nimieri on the episode titled “Lost Boy” in 2007. The next year, Ellis landed a role in the HBO series True Blood, where he plays Lafayette Reynolds. He has also wrapped up filming The Soloist, starring Robert Downey Jr., Jamie Foxx and Catherine Keener. Ellis has also been cast on The Express, a biographical sport drama for Universal Pictures.
2008-present True Blood (TV series)
2010 A Drop of True Blood (TV series)
2009 The Soloist
2009 Talent (short)
2008 The Express
2007 Without a Trace (TV series)
2007 Veronica Mars (TV series)
2005 Trespass (short)
2005 The Inside (TV series)
2005 Warm Springs (TV movie)
2002/I Lost (short)
"I support it. I think anybody should - I mean - I have my religious views, but I don't choose to oppress them on anybody. I think in this country, anybody can do whatever they want to do as long as it's not hurting anybody else or violating the laws of society." -When asked about his views on gay marriage during his Vibe Magazine interview