‘Elvis’ Director Baz Luhrmann Tributes Late Big Mama Thornton Actress Shonka Dukureh

by Samantha Whidden

Following the news that Shonka Dukureh suddenly passed away at the age of 44, “Elvis” director Baz Luhrmann paid tribute to the late Big Mama Thornton actress.

In a post on Instagram, the “Elvis” director shared some snapshots of Dukureh as Big Mama Thornton for the film. “A special light went out today and all of the ‘Elvis’ movie family are heartbroken by the loss of Shonka Dukureh,” he wrote in the caption. 

Luhrmann also said that from the moment the “Elvis” actress made an appearance on the set, she brought joy, spirit, voice, and music. “Whenever she was on set, on stage, or even just in the room, everyone always felt uplifted. Shonka was just starting to find a larger audience for her tremendous talent. And I got to see her uplift whole crowds of people at Coachella and beyond.”

Luhrmann also recalled the “Elvis” star’s favorite word, which was blessing. “I, along with the entire ‘Elvis’ cast, crew, and musical collaborators, feel truly blessed to have had time with her. We send all our love and support to Shonka’s children and family at this time.”

As previously reported, the “Elvis” actress was found dead on Thursday (July 21st) in her Nashville, Tennessee apartment. One of her children found her unresponsive and ran to a neighbor’s apartment. The neighbor then called 9-1-1 at 9:27 a.m. local time. No foul play was reportedly suspected in her death. 

“Elvis” was notably Dukureh’s first major film role. While speaking to CW 30 Memphis recently, the actress shared the emotions to experienced while showing the film to her children. “To just have my children sitting in that theater and watching me come on the screen and for them to just scream in the theater, ‘That’s my mom!’ I was so proud.”

Dukureh then added that she had a love for music at an early age. “My mother said I could sing before I could talk. She said I was humming music before I was uttering words.”

Doja Cat Expressed Her Condolence to the ‘Elvis’ Actress Shonka Dukureh’s Family 

Doja Cat, whose song for the film “Vegas” featured Shonka Dukureh, also expressed her condolences to the “Elvis” actress’ family after her passing. 

“Rest In Peace Shonka,” Doja Cat wrote in her latest Instagram Story. “An incredible talent taken from us too soon. Was a true honor getting to know her and I am so grateful to her for lending her incredible vocals for ‘Vegas’. Her amazing performance in ‘Elvis’ amongst her other artistry will live on. Sending my deepest condolences to her loved ones.”

Along with Luhrmann and Doja Cat, others who expressed their condolences are Austin Butler and Olivia DeJonge, both starred in “Elvis” alongside the late actress.