Nelsan Ellis (November 30, 1977 – July 8, 2017) was an American actor and playwright. He achieved critical acclaim for his portrayal of Lafayette Reynolds in the HBO television series True Blood (2008–2014), for which he won a Satellite Award from the International Press Academy, among other accolades. He also starred as Shinwell Johnson in Elementary from 2016 to 2017, and played a variety of guest roles in other television series, including Veronica Mars and Without a Trace.In addition to his television work, Ellis appeared in several feature films throughout his career. He portrayed Eddie Sweat in the Disney sports drama Secretariat (2010), was Martin Luther King Jr. in Lee Daniels' The Butler (2013), and was Bobby Byrd in the 2014 James Brown biopic Get on Up. His final acting role was in True to the Game, which was released posthumously.