Jonshell Alexander, who played a supporting role in the Oscar-nominated movie “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” was shot and killed in New Orleans, Louisiana over the weekend. She was only 22 years old.
Police say that Alexander was with a male companion Saturday night, according to WWLTV, when both were shot while sitting inside the vehicle around 9 p.m. The unnamed man was able to drive himself to the hospital but Alexander was pronounced dead at the scene.
“She would light up any room. She was feisty, she was jazzy, she always wanted to be girly,” her mom Shelley Alexander told WWLTV.
Alexander was the youngest of three children, according to CBS News, and leaves behind a one year old daughter named De-vynne Robinson. She would never star in another movie after “Beasts of the Southern Wild.”
The film was about a poor South Louisiana bayou community with a cast of native Louisianans. It went on to win the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival and was nominated for four Academy Awards.
“We incorporated a part into the film that was very much inspired by her,” said “Beasts of the Southern Wild” director Benh Zeitlin. “A lot of the lines were written by her, and so much of the character grew out of who Jonshel was. Her character in the film is named Joy Strong, which always seemed like a perfect description of Jonshel. She was a really bright burning light.”
Alexander’s character was a friend of the protagonist named Hushpuppy, played by a 6-year-old Quvenzhané Wallis. After the movie, Alexander went on to dance and cheerlead in high school and be a hostess at restaurants.
Zeitlin described her as an “absolute one-of-a-kind, unforgettable, force-of-nature human being.”
WWLTV reports that Alexander was an unintended victim of the shooting that seemed to target a friend. Investigators are still looking for a suspect.