Jonshel Alexander, who appeared in Beasts of the Southern Wild, has died at the age of 22 following a shooting, Us Weekly confirms.
The child actress was inside a car with a man on Saturday, November 27, when they were reportedly both shot. Alexander was pronounced dead at the scene, while the unidentified man was able to check himself into a hospital in Louisiana.
The police have allegedly located a vehicle of interest that may have been used by the shooter, The New Orleans Advocate reports.
Alexander originally made her acting debut as Joy Strong in Beasts of the Southern Wild in 2012. The former actress starred alongside Quvenzhané Wallis in the drama film which explored a poor Louisiana bayou community and their struggle to survive.
Beasts of the Southern Wild, which was adapted from Lucy Alibar‘s one-act play Juicy and Delicious, went on to be nominated for four Academy Awards including Best Picture. Wallis, 18, also made history as the youngest best actress nominee at age 9 for her leading role in the movie.
Following the news of Alexander’s death, the Annie actress paid tribute to her costar via Instagram on Wednesday, December 1, writing, “When were filming we were always together and i wish i could go back in time so i can see you again. i love you. you will be missed by so many.🙏🏽🕊🕊.”
Beasts of the Southern Wild director Benh Zeitlin also reflected on getting to work with Alexander, who he called an “absolute one of a kind, unforgettable, force-of-nature human being.”
“She was a really bright burning light,” Zeitlin, 39, shared during an interview with The New Orleans Advocate on Tuesday, November 30. “We incorporated a part into the film that was very much inspired by her. 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.”
Jonshel’s mother, Shelly Alexander, recalled how the team behind Beasts of the Southern Wild “fell in love” with her late daughter right away.
“She was like, ‘I’m going to be in this movie,'” Shelly noted to the newspaper. “She brought life to everything. Jonshel was feisty, jazzy, spoiled. It was her way or no way. Jonshel was like, ‘It’s going to be me.'”
Jonshel was the youngest of three children who worked as a hostess in various restaurants after graduating from high school. She is survived by her 1-year-old daughter, De-vynne Robinson.
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With reporting by Diana Cooper
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