Triangle of Sadness: Charlbi Dean, Star of Ruben Östlund’s Cannes Fest Top Winner, Dies at 32

Charlbi Dean, Star of ‘Triangle of Sadness’ and ‘Black Lightning,’ Dies at 32

She started out as a model in South Africa before starring in director Ruben Östlund’s Cannes-premiering satire this year.


Charlbi Dean, the South African actress who impressed this year with her turn as a fashion model influencer in the Palme d’Or-winning Triangle of Sadness, has died. She was 32.

Dean died Monday at a hospital in New York City after what was described as unexpected sudden illness, her representative said.

Dean also recurred for two seasons as the assassin Syonide, the surrogate daughter of antagonist Tobias Whale (Marvin “Krondon” Jones III), on the CW superhero series Black Lightning.

Dean starred as Yaya opposite Harris Dickinson as Carl in Triangle of Sadness, directed by Sweden’s Ruben Östlund.

Charlbi Dean and Harris Dickinson in ‘Triangle of Sadness’ COURTESY OF TIFF

Born in Cape Town as Charlbi Dean Kriek, she made her onscreen debut in the 2010 South African film Spud, then returned for the 2013 sequel.

Her film résumé also included Blood in the Water (2016), Don’t Sleep (2017), An Interview With God (2018) and Porthole (2018).

Dean began modeling at 14 after dropping out of high school.

In 2013 interview, she said she “was named ‘walking, talking toothpick.’ Being very skinny was something I hated at school.”

She began working for the international Guess label and later appeared on the cover of Vogue and in shoots for Gucci, United Colors of Benetton and Ralph Lauren.

She survived a fiery car crash in 2008 in which she broke her wrist, four ribs and an elbow and suffered a collapsed left lung.

Dean’s role in Triangle of Sadness was her biggest to date, especially following the film’s positive reception at Cannes. In the movie, Dean played Yaya, one half of a celebrity couple who goes on a luxury cruise that goes awry.

Following the film’s win at the festival, Dean wrote on Instagram, “Congratulations our family we did it!!!” and telling director Ruben Östlund, “you’re the GOAT I’m forever thankful for you for trusting me to be apart of your genius.”

Dean was engaged to male model Luke Volker, according to posts on their Instagrams.