'Elvis' actress, 44, found dead in apartment by one of her young children

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By Asiya Ali

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Shonka Dukureh, who starred as Big Mama Thornton in the film Elvis, has been found dead at her home in Nashville, Tennessee.

According to a statement from the Nashville Police Department, the 44-year-old was found unresponsive by one of her two young children who she lived in an apartment with.

No foul play is suspected and authorities are awaiting autopsy results from the Davidson County Medical Examiner's Office for an official cause of death, as reported by People.

As well as appearing in the biopic, Dukureh also starred in Doja Cat's Vegas music video, where she also appeared as Big Mama Thornton.

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Shonka Dukureh as Big Mama Thornton in Elvis. Credit: Album / Alamy.

Dukureh was a renowned gospel singer in the Nashville area. While her career was taking off after the well-acclaimed biopic, WPLN reported that she had a devotion for the arts and was a teacher.

"I taught second grade for a little while over at Buena Vista Elementary in Metro Schools, and then did a lot of work with inner city youth doing after-school programming, summer programming - those programs that we need during the break so that kids can have a positive place to be," Dukureh said.

The actress graduated with a bachelor's degree in theatre and went on to achieve a master's degree in education at Trevecca Nazarene University.

Dukureh told the publication in June that many of her students contacted her after seeing her in Elvis, saying: "They're blown away, like, 'Wow! Miss Shonka! Really?' " she said, laughing. "I said, 'I'm still Ms. Shonka, you know!'"

After the tragic news, the director of the biopic, Baz Luhrmann, sent his condolences to Dukureh and shared a series of pictures of her in his tribute on Instagram.

Luhrmann wrote: "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," he continued.

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

Our thoughts are with Dukureh's family, friends, and fans at this time.

Featured image credit: Album / Alamy

'Elvis' actress, 44, found dead in apartment by one of her young children

vt-author-image

By Asiya Ali

Article saved!Article saved!

Shonka Dukureh, who starred as Big Mama Thornton in the film Elvis, has been found dead at her home in Nashville, Tennessee.

According to a statement from the Nashville Police Department, the 44-year-old was found unresponsive by one of her two young children who she lived in an apartment with.

No foul play is suspected and authorities are awaiting autopsy results from the Davidson County Medical Examiner's Office for an official cause of death, as reported by People.

As well as appearing in the biopic, Dukureh also starred in Doja Cat's Vegas music video, where she also appeared as Big Mama Thornton.

wp-image-1263162490 size-full
Shonka Dukureh as Big Mama Thornton in Elvis. Credit: Album / Alamy.

Dukureh was a renowned gospel singer in the Nashville area. While her career was taking off after the well-acclaimed biopic, WPLN reported that she had a devotion for the arts and was a teacher.

"I taught second grade for a little while over at Buena Vista Elementary in Metro Schools, and then did a lot of work with inner city youth doing after-school programming, summer programming - those programs that we need during the break so that kids can have a positive place to be," Dukureh said.

The actress graduated with a bachelor's degree in theatre and went on to achieve a master's degree in education at Trevecca Nazarene University.

Dukureh told the publication in June that many of her students contacted her after seeing her in Elvis, saying: "They're blown away, like, 'Wow! Miss Shonka! Really?' " she said, laughing. "I said, 'I'm still Ms. Shonka, you know!'"

After the tragic news, the director of the biopic, Baz Luhrmann, sent his condolences to Dukureh and shared a series of pictures of her in his tribute on Instagram.

Luhrmann wrote: "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," he continued.

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

Our thoughts are with Dukureh's family, friends, and fans at this time.

Featured image credit: Album / Alamy