42 Facts About Aunjanue Ellis


Aunjanue Ellis had roles in the films Men of Honor, The Caveman's Valentine, Undercover Brother, Ray, Freedomland, The Express: The Ernie Davis Story, The Taking of Pelham 123 and The Help.


In 2021, Ellis starred in the critically acclaimed film King Richard, which earned her nominations for the Academy Award, Golden Globe Award, British Academy Film Award, and Critics' Choice Movie Award for Best Supporting Actress.


On television, Aunjanue Ellis had recurring roles in the ABC police drama series High Incident, The Practice, True Blood, and The Mentalist, and played roles in a number of television films, such as Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story, Abducted: The Carlina White Story, and The Clark Sisters: First Ladies of Gospel.


In 2015, Aunjanue Ellis played the leading role in the miniseries The Book of Negroes, based on a bestselling novel by Lawrence Hill.


From 2015 to 2017, she starred as Miranda Shaw in the ABC thriller series Quantico, and in 2016, Aunjanue Ellis played Nancy Turner, Nat Turner's mother, in the period drama film The Birth of a Nation.


Aunjanue Ellis later starred in the HBO drama series Lovecraft Country, for which she was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award and a Screen Actors Guild Award.


Aunjanue Ellis was born in San Francisco, California, and raised on her grandmother's farm in Magnolia, Mississippi.


Aunjanue Ellis attended Tougaloo College before transferring to Brown University, where she completed her Bachelor of Arts in African-American studies.


Aunjanue Ellis studied acting with Jim Barnhill and John Emigh.


Aunjanue Ellis went on to study acting in the Graduate Acting Program at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts.


Aunjanue Ellis is a member of Delta Sigma Theta sorority.


In 1995, Aunjanue Ellis made her professional acting debut appearing as Ariel opposite Patrick Stewart's Prospero in a Broadway revival of William Shakespeare's The Tempest.


Aunjanue Ellis later made her screen debut in the episode of Fox police drama series New York Undercover.


From 1996 to 1997, Aunjanue Ellis starred as Officer Leslie Joyner in the ABC police drama series High Incident, created by Steven Spielberg.


In 2007, Aunjanue Ellis played the leading role in the thriller Cover, which received negative reviews.


Aunjanue Ellis played Denzel Washington's wife in the 2009 film The Taking of Pelham 123, directed by Tony Scott.


On television, in 2002 Aunjanue Ellis had a regular role on the short-lived ABC medical drama MDs.


Aunjanue Ellis had recurring roles on Third Watch, 100 Centre Street, Jonny Zero, Justice and True Blood.


Aunjanue Ellis has appeared in a number of Broadway and Off-Broadway theatre productions.


In 2010, Aunjanue Ellis co-starred opposite Wesley Snipes in the action film Game of Death.


Aunjanue Ellis played the leading role in the independent film The Tested based on the award-winning 2005 short film of the same name.


Aunjanue Ellis played the leading role in the 2012 television film Abducted: The Carlina White Story.


From 2010 to 2013, Aunjanue Ellis had a recurring role in the CBS series The Mentalist, as Madeleine Hightower.


Aunjanue Ellis played Ashley Judd's best friend in the 2012 ABC miniseries Missing, and had another role on the CBS procedural, NCIS: Los Angeles.


Aunjanue Ellis starred as one of the lead characters in the 2013 AMC pilot The Divide.


When WE tv picked up the show, Aunjanue Ellis left and was recast with Nia Long.


In 2014, Aunjanue Ellis was cast as the lead in the international co-production epic miniseries The Book of Negroes, based on Lawrence Hill's bestselling 2007 novel.


The Book of Negroes premiered in 2015, and Aunjanue Ellis received critical acclaim for her performance.


On February 25,2015, it was announced that Aunjanue Ellis was cast in the ABC thriller series Quantico.


Aunjanue Ellis left the series after two seasons in 2017.


In 2016, Aunjanue Ellis co-starred in the historical drama film The Birth of a Nation, based on the story of the 1831 slave rebellion led by Nat Turner.


Aunjanue Ellis plays the role of Nancy Turner, Nat's mother, in the film.


In February 2018, Aunjanue Ellis was cast in a leading role on the CBS drama pilot Chiefs, which was not picked up to series.


Aunjanue Ellis received a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie nomination for her performance.


In 2020, Aunjanue Ellis portrayed Mattie Moss Clark, the mother of The Clark Sisters, in the Lifetime television film The Clark Sisters: First Ladies of Gospel.


Aunjanue Ellis was specifically praised by critics, fans, and the Clark Sisters for her performance.


Aunjanue Ellis received NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Television Movie, Mini-Series or Dramatic Special nomination for her performance.


Aunjanue Ellis co-starred in the 2020 HBO drama series Lovecraft Country based on the novel of the same name by Matt Ruff.


In 2021, Aunjanue Ellis starred as Oracene Price opposite Will Smith in King Richard, a biopic about Richard Williams.


Aunjanue Ellis received nominations at the Critics' Choice Movie Awards, Satellite Awards and Black Reel Awards, winning the National Board of Review Award for Best Supporting Actress.


In January 2022, Aunjanue Ellis was cast alongside Andra Day, Glenn Close and Mo'Nique in Netflix's exorcism thriller film The Deliverance, directed by Lee Daniels.


Aunjanue Ellis was cast in the film adaptation of The Nickel Boys, featuring Hamish Linklater and Fred Hechinger, in October 2022.