A view of the red carpet at the UK special Screening of Elvis at the BFI Southbank, in London on May 31, 2022. (Justin Tallis/AFP via Getty Images)
Shonka dukureh was an actress and singer who played Big Mama Thornton’s role in “Elvis”, a Baz Luhrmann movie. She died Thursday, according to police.
The 44-year-old was found unresponsive in her Nashville apartment by one of her two young children, the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department said in a written statement.
“No foul play is evident in today’s death of actress Dukureh, 44, who portrayed Big Mama Thornton in this year’s Elvis movie,” police said.
“Dukureh, the young mother of two was found murdered in her bedroom at her Kothe Way home. Unresponsive, one of her children ran to the apartment of a neighbor. The neighbor telephoned 911 at 9: 27 a.m.”
The cause of death for the actress is currently unknown, pending the results of an autopsy by the Medical Examiner’s Office.
BREAKING: No foul play is evident in today’s death of actress Shonka Dukureh, 44, who portrayed Big Mama Thornton in this year’s Elvis movie. Dukureh was a Fisk Univ grad. She was discovered dead in her bedroom at her Kothe Way apartment, which she shared with her two young children.
— Metro Nashville PD (@MNPDNashville) July 21, 2022
Nashville Mayor John Cooper expressed his sympathy via Twitter.
“My deepest condolences to the family of Shonka Dukureh. Shonka graduated from [Fisk University] and called Nashville home for many years,” he wrote. “Her powerful voice and artistry will live on through her music, and we honor her memory on this sad day.”
Dukureh starred alongside Austin Butler as Elvis Presley and Tom Hanks as Colonel Tom Parker in the 2022 film.
The Tennessean reported that Dukureh graduated from Fisk University with a bachelor’s degree in theater and that she also held a master’s degree in education from Trevecca Nazarene University.
Caden Pearson, a journalist based in Australia. His background includes documentary and screenwriting. Contact him on [email protected]