Nelsan Ellis was born in Harvey, Illinois, moved to Alabama, and then moved back to Illinois. He attended Julliard in NYC, where he became friend with Rutina Wesley, who now plays his cousin, Tara, on True Blood.
At Julliard, Nelsan wrote a semi-autobiographical called "Ugly", which was later performed at the school and won the Lincoln Center's Martin E. Segal Award.
Ellis is best known for his role as Lafayette Reynolds on HBO's True Blood, although he has also made appearances on The Inside, Veronica Mars, and Without a Trace.
You might also recognize him from the films Trespass, The Express, The Soloist, Talent, and Secretariat.
For his role in True Blood, Nelsan has won an Ewwy Award for "Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series", a Scream Award for "Best Supporting Actor", and an NAACP Image Award for "Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series".
In 2009, Nelsan also received a NewNowNext Award for "Brink of Fame: Actor".