Nathan Louis Jackson, Playwright and ‘Luke Cage’ Writer, Dies at 44

Nathan Louis Jackson, the Kansas City-based playwright who also wrote for “Luke Cage,” “13 Reasons Why,” Shameless”and “Southland,” died on August 22 at the age of 44, according to KCUR.

“Jackson’s work often showcased his love for his hometown. Having lived and worked on both coasts, Nathan’s heart belonged in Kansas City,” his family said in a statement released to the media.

While cause of death was not given, his wife Megan Mascorro-Jackson told The Hollywood Reporter that he had suffered an aortic dissection in 2019 and continued to have heart issues. The family has chosen not to have an autopsy done to determine cause of death.

His plays included “Broke-Ology,” “When I Come to Die,” “Sticky Traps” and “Brother Toad.”

Jackson was still an MFA student at Juilliard School when his play “Broke-ology” premiered at the Williamstown Theater Festival in Massachusetts in 2008. The play, about two Black brothers fighting over the care of their father who has multiple sclerosis, starred Wendell Pierce and Francois Battiste. It won him his first Lorraine Hansberry Playwriting Award.

His next play, “When I Come to Die,” was about a death row prisoner whose execution goes wrong. “I started thinking about people in weird time positions, and these cats know exactly how much time they have left on this earth,” he told the The New York Times in 2011, about the Off Broadway play. “But what happens if you get more of it?”

During his career, Jackson won another Lorraine Hansberry Playwriting Award. the Mark Twain Comedy Playwriting Award, and the Kennedy Center’s Gold Medallion. He also served as the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Playwright in Residence at Kansas City Repertory Theatre.

He began writing his own monologues for forensics competitions when he realized how limited the existing selections were. As he told the Times in 2011, “I’m there in the Midwest, and there ain’t no other Black folks doing this, so I’d just end up doing August Wilson every time. I wanted to do a piece that speaks for me, so I said, ‘I’ll just write my own stuff.’”

He is survived by his wife, their children Amaya and Savion Jackson, his mother Bessie Jackson, and siblings Ebony Maddox and Wardell Jackson. A celebration of life will be held at a later date, according to the family’s statement.

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