Beasts Of The Southern Wild Actress Jonshel Alexander Is Dead At 22

Young girls marching through a field in Beasts of the Southern Wild.
(Image credit: Searchlight Pictures)

Benh Zeitlin's 2012 drama Beasts of the Southern Wild wowed audiences and critics with its tale of a magical reality in a time of crisis. One of the young talents featured in that film was actress Jonshel Alexander, who at a young age made her only film performance in Zeitlin’s awards season hit. It is with great sadness that we report Ms. Alexander has been killed at the age of 22.

Jonshel Alexander was pronounced dead at the scene of a shooting in Louisiana, per a report by THR. She was allegedly one of two people shot in a vehicle this past Saturday, with an unnamed man driving himself to a hospital for treatment afterwards. The youngest of three children in her family, she is survived by her daughter, De-vynne Robinson.

After originally auditioning for the role of Hushpuppy, which eventually went to actress Quvenzhané Wallis, Ms. Alexander left such an impression on the director of Beasts of the Southern Wild that she actually was cast in a supporting role as Joy Strong, one of Hushpuppy’s friends. Being allowed to infuse the character with her own personality and dialogue in the Academy Award contender, Jonshel Alexander made an indelible mark in the only film credit in her career. There's no telling when she might have returned to the screen.

It’s unknown why she did not act again after that one time in the actor’s spotlight, but Jonshel continued to bring brightness to the lives of all she knew. When speaking to the press upon her untimely passing, her mother Shelly described her late daughter as follows: 

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.'

It certainly sounds like the late actress had a gorgeous and strong spirit, one that is going to be remembered by those close to her. And at just 22 years old, Jonshel Alexander's death is a particularly harrowing piece of information that is sure to turn a few heads. A number of tributes have already started pouring in for her, as an example:

Another absolutely heartbreaking reaction to Jonshel's passing came from her Beasts of the Southern Wild co-star, Quvenzhané Wallis. Remarking on their closeness on set, while creating the magical reality of the project, Ms. Wallis offered her thoughts on the matter through social media. Here's what she had to say: 

While Jonshel Alexander didn't return to acting after Beasts of the Southern Wild, it's unclear if this would have changed sometime in her future. That's an especially compelling prospect, if she'd decided to reteam with Behn Zeitlin, who hasn't stopped making movies infused with that same sort of magic. Unfortunately, her shocking death put an end to any potential acting opportunities. And given the violent nature of her death, it's an even more tragic story. 

It remains to be seen how legal proceedings might shake out for this situation, but smart money says the general public will be invested. Let's just hope that those grieving for Alexander are able to find some peace in the future. Though her cinematic legacy may be limited to one film, to land a movie that touched the hearts of audiences and political figures alike is an impressive feat. We here at CinemaBlend extend our deepest condolences to the family and friends of Jonshel Alexander in this time of grieving. 

Mike Reyes
Senior Movies Contributor

Mike Reyes is the Senior Movie Contributor at CinemaBlend, though that title’s more of a guideline really. Passionate about entertainment since grade school, the movies have always held a special place in his life, which explains his current occupation. Mike graduated from Drew University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science, but swore off of running for public office a long time ago. Mike's expertise ranges from James Bond to everything Alita, making for a brilliantly eclectic resume. He fights for the user.