Jonshel Alexander, the actor best known for her role in the Academy Award-nominated film Beasts of the Southern Wild, has died. She was 22.

As Deadline report, Alexander was fatally shot on Saturday, November 27th in New Orleans’ 7th Ward. Alexander and an unidentified man were shot whilst sitting in a vehicle in the 1500 block of North Claiborne Avenue at about 9 PM. The actress was declared dead at the scene, and the man drove himself to hospital.

Alexander played Joy Strong in Benh Zeitlin’s debut feature Beasts of the Southern Wild. The fierce, poignant drama explored a small Louisiana bayou community, offshore from New Orleans, struggling to survive in the face of a frightening storm.

The film won the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival and was nominated for four Academy Awards, including best picture.

Director Benh Zeitlin cast unknown Louisiana natives for the lead roles, auditioning over 4,000 actors. Alexander was cast in a supporting role opposite then-6-year-old Quvenzhané Wallis.

Zeitlin recalls being captivated by Alexander, describing her as an “absolute one-of-a-kind, unforgettable, force-of-nature human being.”

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

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