The actor, who appeared in the Oscar-nominated film in 2012, was shot in New Orleans on Saturday night (27 November), according to reports.
Alexander was with an unidentified man, who was also shot. They were reportedly sitting in a vehicle on North Claiborne Avenue when the incident occurred.
She was pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics but the man drove himself to hospital.
Beasts of the Southern Wild director Benh Zeitlin told Nola.com he was “devastated” by the news.
Alexander was just 12 when she appeared in Zeitlin’s film, which was shot in Louisiana. The director auditioned more than 4,000 actors for the lead role of Hushpuppy, which Alexander was deemed too old for.
It ultimately went to Quvenzhané Wallis, but Zeitlin created a new character named Joy for Alexander.
“We incorporated a part into the film that was very much inspired by her,” Zeitlin said at the.time.
“A lot of the lines were written by her, and so much of the character grew out of who Jonshel was. Her character in the film is named Joy Strong, which always seemed like a perfect description of Jonshel.”
The film was nominated for four Oscars, including Best Picture.
“She brought life to everything,” Alexander’s mother, Shelly, told The Times-Picayune/The New Orleans Advocat. “Jonshel was feisty, jazzy, spoiled. It was her way or no way. Jonshel was like, ‘It’s going to be me.’”
The paper reports that Alexander worked as a waitress and devoted herself to the care of her one-year-old daughter, De-vynne Robinson, after graduating from high school.
Police are asking that anyone in the US with information call Crimestoppers of Greater New Orleans Inc. anonymously at (504) 822-1111 or (877) 903-7867.
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