Shonka Dukureh, an actress and singer who starred as Big Mama Thornton in the Baz Luhrmann’s “Elvis” movie died on Thursday, police said.
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 was found dead in the bedroom of her Kothe Way apartment that she shared with her two young children. One of them found her unresponsive and ran to a neighbor’s apartment. The neighbor telephoned 911 at 9:27 a.m.”
The cause of the actress’ death is unknown at present pending autopsy results from 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, a Fisk Univ graduate, was found dead in the bedroom of her Kothe Way apt that she shared with her 2 young children.
— Metro Nashville PD (@MNPDNashville) July 21, 2022
Nashville Mayor John Cooper offered his condolences 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.