Nelsan Ellis, the actor who starred in HBO’s True Blood as Lafayette Reynolds, has died, his manager Emily Gerson Saines. He was 39 years old. “Nelsan has passed away after complications with heart failure. He was a great talent, and his words and presence will be forever missed” Saines said. On True Blood, Lafayette was a short order cook at Merlotte’s. In books, he was killed off, but because Ellis made him such an enjoyable character, he survived in the series. “We were extremely saddened to hear of the passing of Nelsan Ellis. 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” HBO said in a statement. True Blood creator, Alan Ball said “Nelsan was a singular talent whose creativity never ceased to amaze me. Working with him was a privilege.” Ellis was born in Harvey, Ill. He attended Thorn Ridge High School in Dolton, Illinois, later attended Oxford University and Columbia College in Chicago, before graduating from the famed Juilliard School. Ellis is survived by his grandmother named Alex Brown, his father named Tommie Lee Thompson and his son named Breon Ellis. He is also survived by his siblings, Lakeeia Thomson sister, Tommie Lee Thompson brother, Babon Ellis brother, Maurice Turne brother, Tianna Thompson sister, Shaentika Beard sister, Yvonne Ellis sister and Tartheaia Thompson aunt. His mother, Jackie Ellis, predeceased him in death. In lieu of flowers, family has asked that donations be made to the Jenesse Center or The Restoration Ministries Church of God and Christ.