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Jonshel Alexander, ‘Beasts Of The Southern Wild’ Star, Dead At Age 22

Jonshel Alexander, who played a prominent role in the Oscar-nominated movie “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” was shot and killed Saturday in her hometown of New Orleans, according to reports. She was 22 and is survived by a 1-year-old daughter.

“She brought life to everything,” her mother, Shelly Alexander, said Tuesday, per NOLA.com. “Jonshel was feisty, jazzy, spoiled. It was her way or no way.”

Alexander was gunned down in a vehicle, police said, and she was declared dead at the scene. A male companion was wounded. Police are still seeking a suspect.

Jonshel Alexander, left, and co-star Quvenzhané Wallis at a party for "Beasts of the Southern Wild" in 2012.
Jonshel Alexander, left, and co-star Quvenzhané Wallis at a party for “Beasts of the Southern Wild” in 2012.
Skip Bolen via Getty Images

At age 12, Alexander played Joy Strong in “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” a 2012 surrealist drama featuring a mythical off-the-grid Louisiana community and the kids who live there.

Alexander was too old to land the lead role of Hushpuppy (played by Quvenzhané Wallis) but impressed director Benh Zeitlin enough for him to cast her in a supporting role as a close friend.

“We incorporated a part into the film that was very much inspired by her,” Zeitlin said, per Deadline. “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.”

“Beasts of the Southern Wild” was nominated for four Oscars, including best picture and best actress for Wallis.

Alexander worked as a hostess in restaurants after high school, NOLA.com reported.

She had no screen credits after “Beasts,” according to IMDB.

“She lit up the screen, and it hurts me. I’m telling you it hurts me to my heart. When I think about I’ve been crying all night,” co-star Dwight Henry told Gray News.