The actor, who was known for his role as Lafayette Reynolds in the HBO vampire series, passed away following heart failure.
“Nelsan has passed away after complications with heart failure,” said his manager Emily Gerson Saines.
She went on to tell The Hollywood Reporter: “He was a great talent, and his words and presence will be forever missed.”
Although the character of Lafayette was killed off in the original novels by Charlaine Harris, Nelsan’s charismatic performance led producers to keep him in the TV adaptation.
US network HBO also released a statement, which read: “We were extremely saddened to hear of the passing of Nelsan Ellis.
“Nelsan was a long-time member of the HBO family whose groundbreaking portrayal of Lafayette will be remembered fondly within the overall legacy of True Blood. Nelsan will be dearly missed by his fans and all of us at HBO.”
Along with his performance in True Blood, Nelsan had roles in Sherlock Holmes series Elementary, Get On Up and The Butler.
Stars from across the entertainment industry took to social media to pay tribute to the actor and playwright in the wake of the tragic news.
True Blood lead Stephen Moyer tweeted: “Nelsan Ellis was truly remarkable. A brilliant, charismatic, intelligent, soulful, wonderful dude. this is just completely tragic.”
Meanwhile, author Charlaine said: “Nelsan Ellis, you will truly be missed. Such a great talent gone far too soon.”
His co-star in The Help, Octavia Spencer, posted on Instagram: “Just got word that we lost @nelsanellisofficial. My heart breaks for his kids and family. #RIPNelsanEllis. #brillIantactor #trueblood #getonup #thesoloist #thehelp.”
Oscar-nominated star and American Horror Story favourite Gabby Sidbie tweeted: “Heartbroken over the passing of Nelsan Ellis. He was always so sweet to me and so entertaining to watch in screen. Ameir.”
While True Blood actor Michael Raymond-James posted on Twitter: “Unbelievably sad news. Nelsan was such a sweet, gentle soul with an enormous talent. He will be missed greatly RIP.”
“Crushed today by the loss of my friend and castmate Nelsan Ellis. He was a wonderful person, a pioneer, and a one of a kind artist. RIP,” posted How I Met Your Mother actor Joe Manganiello.