Ellis in 2015.
|Born||Aunjanue L. Ellis
February 21, 1969
San Francisco, California, U.S.
Aunjanue L. Ellis (born February 21, 1969) is an American film, stage, and television actress, and producer. She began her acting career in theater, and made her film debut in Girls Town. She later had leading roles in a number of independent movies, and co-starred in several mainstream films.
Ellis is best known for her roles in films Men of Honor (2000), The Caveman's Valentine (2001), Undercover Brother (2002), Ray (2004), The Express (2008), The Taking of Pelham 123 (2009) and The Help (2011). On television, Ellis had regular role in the ABC police drama series High Incident (1996–97), and later co-starred in a number of short-lived dramas. She had recurring roles on The Practice, True Blood, and The Mentalist, and played roles in a number of made for television movies, such as Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story (2009) and Abducted: The Carlina White Story (2013). In 2015, Ellis played the leading role in the miniseries The Book of Negroes based on bestselling novel by Lawrence Hill, for which she received critical acclaim.
Ellis was born in San Francisco, California, and raised on her grandmother's farm in Mississippi. She attended Tougaloo College before transferring to Brown University, where she completed her Bachelor of Arts in African-American studies, while also studying acting with Jim Barnhill and John Emigh. She went on to study acting in the Graduate Acting Program at New York University. She is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority.
In 1995, Ellis has made her acting debut appearing as Ariel opposite Patrick Stewart's Prospero in a Broadway revival of William Shakespeare's The Tempest. She later made her screen debut in the episode of Fox police drama series, New York Undercover, and had roles in films Girls Town and Ed's Next Move.
Ellis has appeared in a number of Broadway and Off-Broadway theatre productions. In January 2004, she performed in Regina Taylor's play Drowning Crow, at the Manhattan Theatre Club. In the Spring, 2012 Hampton University semester, she taught entertainment industry courses. She was also featured in a Hampton Players and Company production, "Through the Crack."
Ellis starred in the ABC drama series High Incident from 1996 to 1997, and had regular and recurring roles on a number of short-lived series, including MDs, and E-Ring. In film, she had roles of Men of Honor (2000) opposite Cuba Gooding, Jr., The Caveman's Valentine (2004) and Freedomland (2006) with Samuel L. Jackson, and Ray (2004) alongside Jamie Foxx. She also starred in the 2002 comedy Undercover Brother, and was lead actress in the 2007 flop thriller Cover. In 2011, she appeared in The Help as Yule May Davis, one of the maids. In 2014, she played Vicki Anderson in Get on Up. Ellis also had many roles in independent films. On television, she appeared on The Practice, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, True Blood, The Good Wife, and NCIS: Los Angeles. From 2010 to 2013, Ellis had a recurring role in the CBS series The Mentalist, as Madeleine Hightower. She starred in the made for television films, Disappearing Acts (2000), Racing for Time (2008), Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story (2009), and Abducted: The Carlina White Story.
Ellis starred as one of the lead characters in the 2013 AMC pilot The Divide, but later WE tv had decided to pick up pilot to series. She left the show and her role was recast with Nia Long. In 2015, Ellis starred in the epic miniseries The Book of Negroes, based on Lawrence Hill’s bestselling 2007 novel. She received critical acclaim for her performance.
|1995||New York Undercover||Claudia||Episode: "Buster and Claudia"|
|1996-1997||High Incident||Off. Leslie Joyner||Series regular, 24 episodes|
|1999||The Practice||Sharon Young||Recurring role, 4 episodes|
|2000||Third Watch||Gail Moore||Episodes: "Journey to the Himalayas" and "32 Bullets and a Broken Heart"|
|2001||100 Centre Street||Amanda Davis||Recurring role, 3 episodes|
|2002||MDs||Quinn Joyner||Series regular, 10 episodes|
|2004||The D.A.||Ellen Baker||Episode: "The People vs. Sergius Kovinsky"|
|2005||Jonny Zero||Gloria||Recurring role, 6 episodes|
|2005-2006||E-Ring||Jocelyn Pierce||Series regular, 23 episodes|
|2007||Law & Order: Criminal Intent||Carmen Rivera||Episode: "Flipped"|
|2006-2007||Justice||Miranda Lee||Recurring role, 9 episodes|
|2008||Numb3rs||Ivy Kirk||Episode: "Power"|
|2008||The Border||Amira||Episode: "Family Values"|
|2008||True Blood||Diane||Recurring role, 3 episodes|
|2008||The Prince of Motor City||Cora Neel||TV pilot|
|2009||The Good Wife||Linda Underwood||Episode: "Crash"|
|2012||Blue Bloods||Sylvia Marshall||Episode: "Reagan V. Reagan"|
|2012||Missing||Mary Dresden||Recurring role, 3 episodes|
|2012-2014||NCIS: Los Angeles||Michelle Hanna||Recurring role, 5 episodes|
|2010-2013||The Mentalist||Madeleine Hightower||Recurring role, 17 episodes|
|2014||Sleepy Hollow||Lori Mills||Episode: "Mama"|
|2015||The Book of Negroes||Aminata Diallo||Miniseries, 6 episodes|
- "Up and Coming: Aunjanue Ellis and Carrie Preston;Two Young Performers Ride 'The Tempest'". 17 December 1995. Retrieved 28 December 2014.
- "NYU Graduate Acting Alumni". 2011. Retrieved 2011-12-01.
- Robert Brauchle (January 13, 2012). "Delta Sigma Theta sorority sisters to meet this month". Daily Press. Retrieved March 24, 2012.
- The Broadway League. "The Tempest | IBDB: The official source for Broadway Information". IBDB. Retrieved 2014-04-20.
- Ben Brantley (February 20, 2004). "THEATER REVIEW; Chekhov Shows He Can Rap". The New York Times. Retrieved March 24, 2012.
- "'The Help' actress to teach courses at HU". WAVY-TV. January 17, 2012. Retrieved March 24, 2012.
- "Aunjanue Ellis movies, photos, movie reviews, filmography, and biography". AllMovie. 1969-02-21. Retrieved 2014-04-20.
- "Lifetime Greenlights Movie 'Abducted,' Starring Aunjanue Ellis, Keke Palmer, Sherri Shepherd | Shadow and Act". Blogs.indiewire.com. Retrieved 2014-04-20.
- Andreeva, Nellie. "WE TV Eyes Expansion Into Scripted Programming With Series Order To AMC's LaGravenese/Goldwyn Drama Pilot". Deadline.com. Retrieved 2014-04-20.
- "WE TV Announces First Scripted Program 'The Divide,' 3 More to Follow | Filmmakers, Film Industry, Film Festivals, Awards & Movie Reviews". Indiewire. 2012-10-26. Retrieved 2014-04-20.
- "Louis Gossett Jr, Cuba Gooding Jr, Aunjanue Ellis & Lyriq Bent Set For 'Book Of Negroes' Miniseries". Deadline.com. Retrieved 2014-04-20.
- "Aunjanue Ellis, Louis Gossett Jr., Cuba Gooding Jr. Board 'The Book of Negroes' Adaptation | Shadow and Act". Blogs.indiewire.com. Retrieved 2014-04-20.
- "The Book of Negroes". Metacritic. Retrieved 25 February 2015.
- "Bustle". Retrieved 25 February 2015.
- Whitney Matheson. "'The Book of Negroes': TV Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 25 February 2015.
- Lesley Goldberg. "Aunjanue Ellis Nabs Female Lead in ABC's 'Quantico' (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 25 February 2015.
- Nellie Andreeva. "James Earl Joins ‘Cooper Barrett’s Guide'; Aunjanue Ellis In ‘Quantico’". Deadline. Retrieved 25 February 2015.
- Rhea Mahbubani; Michael Miller (2014-05-02). "Film festival winners - Daily Pilot". Articles.dailypilot.com. Retrieved 2014-05-24.
- Coker, Matt (2014-05-05). "The Sublime and Beautiful, Kickstarted Drama, is Big Newport Beach Film Fest Award Winner | OC Weekly". Blogs.ocweekly.com. Retrieved 2014-05-24.