Jonshel Alexander, ‘Beasts Of The Southern Wild’ Child Actor, Killed In New Orleans At 22
Jonshel Alexander, who played a supporting role in the 2012 Oscar-nominated film Beasts of the Southern Wild, was killed in a weekend shooting in her native Louisiana. She was 22-years old.
Authorities said Alexander and a man were shot inside a vehicle Saturday in New Orleans, and she was pronounced dead at the scene. The man drove to a hospital for treatment, his name was not released.
The actress leaves behind a 1-year old daughter.
We are deeply saddened by this news. 💔
Our Condolences to the family and friends of Jonshel Alexander, one of the brilliant child actors in 'Beasts of the Southern Wild'.#RIPJonshelAlexander #JoyStrong https://t.co/Vi29jT4BrX pic.twitter.com/x1KRJOB2Nm
— The Pointe Au Chien Tribe (PACIT) (@Pointe_Au_Chien) December 1, 2021
Alexander rose to stardom at 12 years old when she played the character Joy Strong in Beasts of The Southern Wild, a drama filmed near Houma, Lousiana, recounting the story of a poor Louisiana bayou community struggling to survive.
The film won the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival and was nominated for four Academy Awards, including best picture.
Director Benh Zeitlin cast Louisiana natives for the film, auditioning more than 4,000 actors before finishing casting. Shelly Alexander said her daughter was determined to snag the role and charmed the filmmakers enough to get it.
“She was like, ‘I’m going to be in this movie,'” her mother recalled. “They fell in love with Jonshel.”
Alexander was too old to play the film’s lead role Hushpuppy, which went to then 6-year old Quvenzhane Wallis.
But director Zeitlin said he was captivated by Alexander, describing her as an “absolute one-of-a-kind, unforgettable, force or nature human being” and cast her in the supporting role.
“We incorporated a part into the film that was very much inspired by here,” Zeitlin said. “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. She was a really bright burning light.”
Zeitlin said he was devastated to learn of her death and has been in touch with her family.
After graduating from high school, she worked as a hostess in restaurants and devoted herself to caring for her daughter, De-vynne Robinson.