Aunjanue Ellis is an actress, best known for her roles in The Help (2011), Ray (2004) and Undercover Brother (2002).
Aunjanue Ellis stars as Miranda Shaw on ABC's Quantico. Ellis most recently appeared on television in BET's epic series The Book of Negroes, of which she received a Television Critics' Choice Award nomination for Best Actress in a Movie or Limited Series.
Ellis has also starred in numerous movies including Tate Taylor's The Help, in which she played Yule Mae Davis, the maid arrested for allegedly stealing a ring. In Taylor's James Brown biopic Get On Up, Ellis portrayed Vicki Anderson, acknowledged by Brown in his autobiography as probably the best singer he ever witnessed. Ellis has also starred opposite Denzel Washington in The Taking of Pelham 123 as well as The Caveman's Valentine. She shared a SAG Award nomination for her role as Mary Ann Fisher in Ray. Ellis received a NAACP Image Award nomination for her performance as a medical student in George Tillman Jr.'s Men of Honor, with Cuba Gooding, Jr. and Robert DeNiro.
Ellis's additional film credits include Romeo and Juliet in Harlem (which she also executive produced), Ed's Next Move, The Express, Freedomland, The Hungry Ghosts, Lovely & Amazing, A Map of the World, Money Matters, Notorious, The Volunteer and Una Vida: A Fable of Music and the Mind. She made her motion picture debut in Jim McKay's Sundance Film Festival hit Girls Town, opposite Lili Taylor.
Ellis has also starred in the television movie, Abducted: The Carlina White Story, and garnered a second NAACP Image Award nomination for her portrayal of Candy Carson alongside Cuba Gooding Jr. and Kimberly Elise in the made for television film Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story. Ellis appeared as a series regular on The Mentalist, High Incident, E-Ring and Justice. Her television credits also include arcs on NCIS: Los Angeles, True Blood and The Practice, and guest starring roles on The Good Wife, Sleepy Hollow, and Blue Bloods. She first appeared on television in an episode of Dick Wolf's police drama series New York Undercover.
In 1995, Ellis made her professional acting debut as Ariel opposite Patrick Stewart's Prospero in The Tempest, directed by George C. Wolfe in a New York Shakespeare Festival/Public Theatre production that began its run at Central Park's Delacorte Theatre and later transferred to The Broadhurst Theatre on Broadway. Her stage credits also include the Broadway production of Joe Turner's Come and Gone, directed by Bartlett Sher, A Winter's Tale for the NYSF/Public Theatre, and at MTC, Drowning Crow and Seeking the Genesis.
Though she was born in San Francisco, Ellis claims the small Mississippi town of McComb as her home. There, Ellis's grandmother raised her on a farm that has been in the family for generations. "My mother gifted me with my particular kind of radical imagination. And my grandmother gave me the tools to execute it," she says. Brought up in a Baptist church where she performed recitations and skits, it was not until she was a student at Tougaloo College that Ellis would first find herself on stage. It was her discovery of theater that led her to transfer to Brown University, where she received her Bachelor of Arts degree in African American Studies, while also training as an actor under Jim Barnhill and John Emigh. She went onto receive a Master of Fine Arts degree from New York University's Tisch School of the Arts.
Ellis is a member of Delta Sigma Theta, Inc., a service sorority that honored her with the 2010 Rising Star Award.