Jonshel Alexander, the former child actress who appeared in the 2012 film Beasts of the Southern Wild, was shot and killed in Louisiana over the weekend.
According to multiple reports, Alexander was inside a car with a man in New Orleans on Saturday night (Nov. 27) when an attacker shot them both. The man was able to drive himself to a nearby hospital, however, paramedics declared the ex-child actress dead on the scene. Authorities have reportedly found the maroon pickup truck that they believe was used by the suspect in the shooting.
Alexander was hired to play Joy Strong in the Oscar-nominated film Beasts of the Southern Wild at the age of 12. The Hollywood Reporter said she beat out more than 4,000 people for the role. The film, which was centered on a poor bayou community in Louisiana, won the top awards at the Cannes and Sundance Film Festivals and snagged four Academy Award nominations, including one for Best Lead Actress and Best Picture.
Shelly Alexander, the late actress’ mother, told the Times-Picayune the Beasts of the Southern Wild filmmakers fell in love with her daughter.
“She was like, ‘I’m going to be in this movie,'” she said. “They fell in love with Jonshel.”
Shelly continued, “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.'”
Benh Zeitlin, director of the film, described Alexander as an “absolute one-of-a-kind, unforgettable, force-of-nature human being,” adding, “she was a really bright burning light.” Since Alexander’s passing, Zeitlin has been in touch with her family.
Actress Quvenzhané Wallis, who starred alongside Alexander in the film, took to Instagram to share a touching tribute to her. “When [we] were filming we were always together and I wish I could go back in time so I can see you again,” she wrote. “I love you. you will be missed by so many.”
Alexander is survived by her mother, siblings and one-year-old daughter.