Nelsan Ellis, who plays flamboyant gay prostitute and vampire blood dealer Lafayette Reynolds on the HBO vampire drama True Blood, has said he based his character on his mother.

I modeled him after my mother,” Ellis told gay weekly Windy City Times. “I had never even seen people like that until years later of playing Lafayette. My mother did the head thing and the hand movements. I can mix my mother's femininity with me and it comes off as real. I have been watching her move all my life.”

Ellis is in Chicago directing The Collective Theatre's first production, HooDoo Love.

He said the play was about “how complex humanity is.”

If that is not for a gay audience, then I don't know what is,” Ellis said. “Absolutely it is for a gay audience, a white audience, a black audience, because you are dealing with someone that just wants to be loved and people who love the wrong individual. I think that is universal.”

HooDoo Love opens at the Athenaeum Theatre on September 27 and runs through October 25.