Jonshel Alexander, the child star of 2012’s critically lauded “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” was killed by gunfire on Saturday and died at the age of 22.
The young mother and an unidentified man were shot while sitting inside of a vehicle in New Orleans’ Seventh Ward at night. She was pronounced dead on scene by first responders, while her passenger was able to drive himself to the hospital to seek treatment.
Police have reportedly located a vehicle of interest, a maroon pickup truck, which they believe was used to commit the crime, but have yet to identify a suspect.
Alexander played Joy Strong in “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” which follows the lives of children in the bayou being threatened by an approaching storm. The film went on to become a critical darling, winning the Sundance Film Festival’s Grand Jury Prize and earning four Academy Award nominations.
The “absolute one-of-a-kind, unforgettable, force-of-nature human being” was cast by director Benh Zeitlin after auditioning more than 4,000 Louisiana natives, who were mostly non-actors.
“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,” Zeitlin commented. 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.”
The film was Alexander’s first and last. She went on to attend and graduate from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Charter High School, then worked as a restaurant hostess.
Alexander leaves behind a 1-year-old daughter, De-vynne Robinson.