Elvis Director Baz Luhrmann ‘Heartbroken’ After Death Of Actor Shonka Dukureh

The singer starred as Big Mama Thornton in the recent Elvis Presley biopic.

Director Baz Luhrmann has shared his heartbreak following the death of Elvis star Shonka Dukureh.

The actor and singer, who played Big Mama Thornton in the recent biopic about Elvis Presley, was found dead in a bedroom of her home in Nashville at the age of 44.

After hearing the news, the director shared a series of pictures, which included an image of him kissing Shonka on the forehead while on the set of Elvis.

He said: “A special light went out today and all of the Elvis movie family are heartbroken by the loss of Shonka Dukureh.

“From the moment she came into our world, Shonka brought joy, spirit and of course her voice and her music.

“Whenever she was on set, on stage or even just in the room, everyone always felt uplifted.

“Shonka was just starting to find a larger audience for her tremendous talent, and I got to see her uplift whole crowds of people at Coachella and beyond.

“A favorite word of Shonka’s, in daily use, was “blessings,” and I, along with the entire Elvis cast, crew and musical collaborators, feel truly blessed to have had time with her.”

The 59-year-old filmmaker added that the cast and crew of Elvis were sending their “love and support” to her children and family.

Shonka Dukureh in Elvis
Shonka Dukureh in Elvis
Warner Bros

Shonka was found unresponsive by one of her children who called emergency services.

There were no signs of foul play following her death, who shared the apartment with her two young children, police said.

Post-mortem results are pending from the medical examiner.

Shonka, who also shared the stage at Coachella this year with Doja Cat, had a theatre degree from Fisk University in Nashville and graduated from Trevecca Nazarene with an education degree, WPLN-FM reported.

In an interview with the station last month, Shonka said she taught year two pupils for a while and then worked with inner city youths through after-school and summer programmes.

She said those students reached out after seeing her in Luhrmann’s Elvis biopic.


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