Elvis: Shonka Dukureh, Actress and Singer Who Played Big Mama, Dies at 44 (Death in Hollywood)

Actress and Singer, Dies at 44

Dukureh played Big Mama Thornton in Baz Luhrmann’s film.

Nashville police said there were no signs of foul play. Autopsy results are pending from the medical examiner.

Dukureh, a Fisk University graduate and Nashville singer, shared the apartment with her two young children, police said. One of the children found her unresponsive and went to the apartment of a neighbor, who called 911 shortly before 9:30 a.m., police said.

The actor, who also shared the stage at Coachella this year with Doja Cat, had a theater degree from Fisk and graduated from Trevecca Nazarene with an education degree, WPLN-FM reported.

In an interview with the station last month, Dukureh said she taught second grade for a while and then worked with inner city youth through after-school and summer programs. Those students reached out after seeing her in Elvis.