Celebrity

Thomas Jefferson Byrd dead: Viola Davis and Spike Lee pay tribute to the late She’s Gotta Have It actor on social media

Posted by
Kayleigh Dray
Published
backgroundLayer 1
Add this article to your list of favourites
Thomas Jefferson Byrd poses for a portrait at the 2014 American Black Film Festival at the Metropolitan Pavillion on June 21, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images)

Several Hollywood stars, including Viola Davis and Spike Lee, have shared tributes on social media after learning of Thomas Jefferson Byrd’s death

Thomas Jefferson Byrd, who has starred in multiple films and TV shows, was killed in Atlanta over the weekend.

“Upon arrival, officers located Byrd lying unresponsive at the location,” the Atlanta Police Department revealed in a statement to Variety.

“Emergency medical services responded to the scene, identified Byrd and pronounced him dead from multiple gunshot wounds to the back. 

“Homicide detectives are working to determine the circumstances surrounding the incident, and the investigation is currently ongoing.”

You may also like

Farewell poetry and readings to remember loved ones by

Upon hearing the news, Spike Lee – who worked with Byrd on multiple projects, including Chi-Raq and Clockers – penned a tribute to the actor and shared it via his Instagram.

“I’m so sad to announce the tragic murder of our beloved brother Thomas Jefferson Byrd last night in Atlanta, Georgia,” the acclaimed director began his post.

Lee then went on to list the many films and TV shows he had worked with the late actor on, before writing: “May we all wish condolences and blessings to his family.

“Rest in peace Brother Byrd.”

Elsewhere, Viola Davis expressed shock over Byrd’s death.

“Oh no!!! 2020! Whaaattt!!!” she wrote on Twitter

“Loved working with you Byrd. What a fine actor you were.”

You may also like

Grief shaming: why you should never judge someone for grieving in their own way

Davis added: “So sorry your life ended this way. Praying for your family. So very sorry.”

Wendell Pierce, meanwhile, tweeted: “Thomas Jefferson Byrd, was an actor in the unofficial repertory company of Spike Lee movies. What Joseph Cotton was to Orson Welles, Byrd was for Spike. The ‘everyman’ character actor.

“He was a part of the Black Arts Renaissance of Fort Greene in the 80s.”

You may also like

Chadwick Boseman’s death: stop pressuring Lupita Nyong’o to make her grief public

Pierce went on to note that he had the “honour” of sharing the screen with Byrd in Get On The Bus and Ray.

“Byrd was brave, funny, creative, country, smooth, expressive, and a joy to be around,” he added.

“He will be remembered for those iconic moments in films that make up a unique canon in American cinema. Another soulful brother gone.”

And comedian Jay Washington was also among those honouring the late actor on social media.

“Rest in peace to the legendary Thomas Jefferson Byrd seen here with me and the iconic Spike Lee,” Washington wrote alongside a photo of himself and Byrd standing with Lee.

“I had the honour of working with Mr. Byrd in Chi-Raq but enjoyed much of his work.”

As mentioned already, Byrd was a frequent collaborator with Lee, appearing in eight of his films including Clockers, Get on the Bus, Girl 6, He Got Game, Bamboozled, Red Hook Summer, Da Sweet Blood of Jesus and Chi-Raq. He also appeared in the Netflix series adaptation of Lee’s She’s Gotta Have It.

His film credits also include the 1996 crime drama Set It Off, as well as the Oscar-winning pic Ray.

However, as a graduate of Morris Brown College in Atlanta, Byrd made his acting debut on Broadway in the revival of Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, in which he starred alongside Whoopi Goldberg, Carl Gordon, Charles S. Dutton and Stephen McKinley Henderson.

He earned a Tony nomination for his standout performance in the play.

Sign up for the latest news and must-read features from Stylist, so you don't miss out on the conversation.

By entering my email I agree to Stylist’s Privacy Policy

Images: Getty

Topics

Share this article

Author

Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is Stylist’s digital editor-at-large. Her specialist topics include comic books, films, TV and feminism. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends.

Recommended by Kayleigh Dray

Celebrity

Stop pressuring Lupita Nyong’o to make her grief public

Chadwick Boseman’s tragic passing has exposed a big problem with social media’s approach to grief.

Posted by
Kayleigh Dray
Published
Books

Farewell poetry and readings to remember loved ones by

25 beautiful and meaningful pieces of poetry and prose to help you say goodbye

Posted by
Kayleigh Dray
Published
People

Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington “heartbroken” over death of Lynn Shelton

The Little Fires Everywhere director has passed away at the age of 54, leaving the stars of her TV show in “complete shock”.

Posted by
Kayleigh Dray
Published
Life

Don’t ever judge someone for grieving in their own way

Laura Whitmore has been criticised for attending the Brits so shortly after Caroline Flack’s death. This grief shaming needs to stop.

Posted by
Kayleigh Dray
Published