Nelsan Ellis Is Not Gay!

By Aemac on Jun 29 2010 | 23 Comments »

Nelsan Ellis shines as Lafayette Reynolds in True Blood, he makes his character so believable that many a fan actually thinks he’s gay in real life. He talked with VIBE about creating his character and what the future holds not only for Lafayette, but for himself too.

Lafayette nelsan ellis lafayette reynolds true blood characters

Nelsan Ellis as Lafayette Reynolds

VIBE: Lafayette is dead in the book so how did you make the TV character your own?
Nelsan Ellis: I think by the second or third audition I got some bad notes from the casting director. They figured I was playing a stereotype or something like that so I got a friend of mine to come and work the audition with me and somehow I found the character inside of me versus putting on something that wasn’t real. Alan Ball wanted the character to be a myriad of things and at first I was skeptical but I somehow found it, maybe it was God helping me out.

VIBE: So that stereotype you were playing must have been a Queenie type of gay guy, huh?

Nelsan Ellis: Yeah, at first because in the break down he was supposed to be almost drag queenish but I didn’t really play that right coming in, even when I got the job. I didn’t really find Lafayette until the third or fourth episode because I certainly didn’t have him in the pilot. There were takes where I was playing with who he was and takes that I was—they just happened to pick takes that were consistent with who Alan Ball thought the character should be.

VIBE: Lafayette has been a lot softer lately as he’s being manipulated by vampires and reconnecting with his dysfunctional mother. What new developments can we look forward to with his character?

Nelsan Ellis: He’s gonna get softer because he’s gonna fall in love but there’s still gonna be that violent part of Lafayette that don’t take no bullshit. But yeah, they’ve given him a love interest so hes gonna be wrapped up in that and dealing with the complications between he and his mom. But we may see a darker Lafayatte, who knows.

VIBE: How annoyed do you get when people can’t differentiate between Nelsan and Lafayette?

Nelsan Ellis: It annoys me when the industry people are like that but I can’t just get upset with regular folk because all they see is the character. But when the industry can’t tell the difference, I’m like, “Damn that’s a little closed minded,” because when white people play a character people expect it to be a character. But black people—we can’t just be character actors, we have to [really] be the things we’re hired for, which is what offends me. I don’t answer that question, “Are you gay or not,” when it comes down to industry people. But if it’s a regular person asking me, that just says that maybe I’m doing a good job. But when a casting director or an agent asks me that question it takes on a deeper thing that says, “I can’t believe you’re doing this unless you are that.”

VIBE: So no men trying to get with you in real life, thinking that you’re Lafayette?

Nelsan Eliis: I get that but I don’t sit down with folks like, tell me what y’all think. But I get the hitting on me and stuff. But then again, I do play a gay character.

Continue reading at VIBE

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23 Responses to “Nelsan Ellis Is Not Gay!”

  1. Lividity says:

    Wow, he didn’t “have him in the pilot?” I, for one, was sold immediately on the character. And I mean especially from the pilot. Amazing performance. I’m not surprised that people really think he is his character. I mean, my mom is convinced that Nelsan is a gay drug addict no matter how many times I tell her he’s not.

    Yuck on industry people not understanding he’s playing a role though. Double yuck.

    • NotHoney says:

      That surprises the hell outta me, too, because I was also instantly sold on Lafayette. He was great in the pilot! He truly inhabits that character so completely that it’s surprising to see and hear Nelsan in interviews or out at various events. They couldn’t be more different.

      Fie on industry people still clinging to age-old stereotypes. Jeez, it’s the 21st century already.

  2. MegNSam says:

    Yea, totally, I thought he captured lafayette right away! I met him at a blood donation site one day along with Sam Tramell, Todd Lowe, and Allan Hyde. They were all absolutely wonderful. sweetest men. I would have never thought Nelsan was gay when I met him. So, when I saw this article, I was like, well, of course he’s not gay! lol

  3. VampireCarmilla says:

    Of course he is not gay dumb dumb’s. Industry people are a trip it’s just a character! A character that I love and like everyone else I was sold on the open episode as well. He’s a great actor and he has more films coming out that I will support and go view. Loving you Nelsan Keep up the good work!

    • Emmy says:

      I don’t think it is fair to think a non-industry fan is a “dumb dumb” for thinking Nelson could be gay in real life. I think it is a testament to the astonishing performance he gives rather than an ignorant assumption. I am involved in the gay community and seen many portrayals of gay men. There have not been any that have stood out to be so unique and 3-Dimensional and so believable to me as this one. Kudos to Nelson for making Lafayette so much more than another queen.

  4. Aiyo says:

    Of course he is not gay saw a pic of him and his girlfriend who is very pretty they make a gay couple. OI guess he is just a convincing actor and people love the show so much they think everyone is just like their character LOL. I love Nelsan and can’t wait for the Lafayette/Jesus romance ;)

  5. Chris says:

    Wow ! This is a well performance from you Nelson, I was convince your are not gay, it just a role you are playing for one if you are it doesn’t change anything on the movie. It is a lot of people out there can’t accept another man kissing them for just a role. Nelson you know what you doing to make that money. A good actor show himself by doing any role. That’s my point of view.

  6. Gay says:


    Lflltte Gyyy gy nd gyy

    G t th Hll

    Gds Ht th Fggts


  7. Indrawana says:

    Mr Nelsan Ellis, I love Lafayette’s character and you play him effectively to the E.

  8. Alicia says:

    I couldn’t love LaFayette more. Nelsan plays him so well, i find myself squealing with excitement every time he speaks. ouf, im in love with this man!

  9. lynnwllms says:

    I love Lafayette, and Mr. Ellis is an excellent actor. His portrayal is so effective. All the actors on True Blood do a great job of creating this wonderful imaginative place where vampires and werewolves rule, and even the flamboyant can be just regular guys! Keep up the good work Mr. Ellis. Good Luck to you!

  10. frannie says:

    I Love Nelsan! I ve bin crushing on him since i 1st saw him. He is Hot… Yea n Eric too!

  11. Locke says:

    I love the character. He is by far my favorite of the series, simply for the absolute honesty that is portrayed. I actually did question whether or not Nelsan was gay. Not because I give a damn about it, but because it was so believable. You, sir, have given credence to the age-old mantra of the True Actor. You have made audiences truly believe your performance to a great deal, and I applaud you for that. I stand in awe of your ability to portray this character so deeply. It shows a great deal of professionalism and steadfastness to act as you have. Thank you for showing the world that being an open gay man is acceptable. I am a straight man that has always hoped for equality of this kind, and I will always remember your performances as the first time I saw a true expression of the gay man in television.

  12. Kathryn says:

    Nelsan hunni..l U were made for the role of Lafayette.. God had this planned for u all along. You were my first favorite on True Blood (& to be honest I love u as an actor more than most!) You are very comfortable & Open-minded to play that role & I give u props for it, most men are, sorry guys.. Close-minded. They are very weird n judgemental when it comes to being Gay. I really really loved ur character for that reason, He is openly gay & feminine but yet he can defend himself & is kinda perverted like a man, =] No offense to anyone, just a girl from VT here, trying to be honest. Uust realised this after writing all of that about Gay Lifestyle.. Im from Vermont.. The first state to legalize Gay marriage. I love u as an actor Nelsan, PLEASE keep going in ur career, I swear if I see u in a movie id watch it cuz it must be good to have an amaxing actor like u in it! Loved u in the 3rd/4th season i think the most, becuz I loved Jesus’ character also. Cannot wait for season 5!! Only 2 more weeks, Yeahh Buddy!

  13. MMA_King says:

    He is an awesome actor who makes his character so very believable! But, I have to admit it bugs me that he pulls the race card in this piece and says that people expect that black people are like the roles they portray. WTF is that all about and why in the world would he think that? That’s a little insulting really and to me, says that he may in fact have a little racism flowing through his true blood! But unfortunately these days society wants to make everything about race and racism, which is why the sad reality is that racism will never end. People are too closed minded, stubborn and set in their ways to stop the retarded cycle of hate. As this show has proven by the gallon, we all are the same on the inside, so stop making race an issue at all! I was born and raised in a semi small town in the Midwest and honestly didn’t ever see racism in person until I moved to the South. Once there, I couldn’t believe how racist everyone was, both black and white! It’s sickening and pathetic!

  14. natalie schrode says:

    hmmm…..well i believed his character was well portrayed and that goes to show us what great talent actor he is. People are sheep, but to go there about white and black its old. He is so good at what he does and I think he’ll go far from here. He shouldn’t have gone there that’s for sure, but it’s what we know. White or black we all are people and make mistakes and have a mind of our own, just use it to the best of your abilities. I love trueblood and love all the characters. I can’t wait for the next season.

  15. Kimbya says:

    I heart Lafayette. I loved the character in the book and was ECSTATIC he lives on in the show. Nelsan Ellis is sublime.

  16. judy says:

    There is no one in this world that could play la la. Nelson, Charlene may have came up with Lafayette, but he will always belong to you. You are the reason I continued to watch true blood past the first episode and the reason I continue to be a fan. I could not tell that you didn’t have the character down in the first episode. Looking back now, at season one, I miss all the jokes and the humor that the season seems to be lacking today. I don’t blame you, cause your always funny and always brightens up my day no matter how bad. La la is the friend I wish I had, and I thank you for bringing him to life. I can’t wait to see more of your acting abilities, and I love seeing your face in movies no matter how small of a role it may seem to be. And keep in mind, La la may not be you, but he is yours and no one can take that away from you. Once again, thank you for bringing such an amazing character to life. And I can’t wait to see what movies and tv series you will be apart of next!

  17. Jamie says:

    For me, the question is not “is he gay in real life” because that’s such a small portion of a person and can be easily mimicked, (though he does an EXTRAordinary job) but “is he a badas* in real life.” The sexuality of his character is nothing compared to the CHARACTER of his character. I love “Lafayette” and the way Nelsan portrays the intense goodness, which is much more importantly and difficultly captured.

  18. CRZYMAN says:


  19. Amy says:

    love Nelsans role as Lafayette you have done an awesome job and are an excellent actor. You are
    so realistic I would never have known. I would love to have Lafayette as a friend. He I think
    would be a great friend.

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