Jonshel Alexander, a former child actor who played a supporting role in the Oscar-nominated film “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” was killed in a shooting in his hometown of Louisiana over the weekend. He was 22 years old.
Police say Alexander and a man were shot inside a car on Saturday in New Orleans and he was pronounced dead at the scene. The suspect, whose name has been withheld, drove to the hospital for treatment.
At the age of 12, Alexander starred in actress Joy Strong in 2012 entitled "Beasts of the Southern Wild," a drama shot near Houma telling the story of a poor Louisiana bayou community struggling for life. The film won a Grand Jury award at the Sundance Film Festival and was nominated for four Academy Awards, including the best photo.
Director Benh Zeitlin threw the Louisiana natives in the lead roles, auditioning more than 4,000 actors before finishing the cast. Shelly Alexander said her daughter loved the filmmakers and came out on top.
"She was like, 'I'm going to be in this movie,' 'she recalls. "They're in love with Jonshel."
Alexander was too old to play the lead role in Hushpuppy's film, starring Quvenzhané Wallis, who was then 6 years old. But Zeitlin said he was taken by Alexander, describing him as "perfect, memorable, with the power of nature" and put him in a supportive role.
"We put together a part of the film that was highly recommended by him," Zeitlin said. “A lot of the lines were written by him, and a lot of the character grew up being who Jonshel was. Her character in the film is named Joy Strong, which always seemed like Jonshel's complete description. He was a very shining light. ”
Zeitlin said he was saddened to hear of her death and had been in contact with her family.
Alexander was the youngest of three children, reports Times-Picayune / The New Orleans Advocate. After graduating from high school, she worked as a waitress in a restaurant and devoted herself to caring for her one-year-old daughter, De-vynne Robinson.
"He made life out of everything," Shelly Alexander told the newspaper on Tuesday. “Jonshel was eating beans, a coat, spoiled. It was his way or not. Jonshel would say, ‘It will be me. '”
Meanwhile, investigators are looking for someone with an interest in the shooting and requesting public assistance with any information about the case.