Aunjanue Ellis, an actor best known for capturing the subtleties of the characters she embodies, has brought her considerable powers to roles on the stage, in television and film.
She is currently at work on “The Volunteer”, an independent feature. In 2011, Ellis co-starred in the ABC series “Missing”, alongside Ashley Judd. Ellis earned a SAG Award for (ensemble cast) her performance in “The Help”, the 2011 blockbuster starring Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer.
Her portrayal of Mary Ann Fisher in the biopic, “Ray”, also garnered a nomination for a SAG award. She has been nominated for an NAACP Image Award twice — for her role in “Men of Honor” opposite Cuba Gooding, Jr. and Robert DeNiro and for her portrayal of Candy Carson in “Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story.”
A changeling with a gift for nuance, Ellis’ keen sensitivity allows her to tackle a spectrum of characters. It is this quality that has defined her career in television. She first appeared on the award-winning legal drama “The Practice.” Her other credits include “Blue Bloods”, “The Good Wife”, “True Blood”, “E-Ring” and “Justice.” She created the role of Madeline Hightower on “The Mentalist.”
Born in San Francisco, Ellis still claims the small Mississippi town of McComb as her home. Ellis’ grandmother raised her on a farm that has been in their family for generations. “My mother gifted me with my particular kind of radical imagination. My grandmother gave me the tools to execute it,” she says. She first found herself on stage as a student at Tougaloo College. It was her discovery of theater that led her to transfer to Brown University and from there she went on to graduate study at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts.
Ellis made her stage debut opposite Patrick Stewart in The Public Theater’s Shakespeare in the Park production of “The Tempest” and most recently appeared on Broadway in “Joe Turner’s Come and Gone.”
Aunjanue Ellis has turned her hand to writing and is at work on a script about a woman who was a member of the Black Panther party.