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Nashville Community Mourns The Untimely Passing Of Actor/Producer/Writer/Voiceover Artist LAQUITA JAMES


Friends, Family and Fans React to News of Beloved Artist's Death

Nashville Community Mourns The Untimely Passing Of Actor/Producer/Writer/Voiceover Artist LAQUITA JAMES Members of the theater, film and voice-over communities in Nashville and beyond are still reeling from the news of the passing of LaQuita James, one of the region's most prolific and best-loved artists, who was found dead in her home last Thursday, June 17. Her cause of death remains unknown, but she is thought to have died from natural causes, according to those close to her.

An active member of the theater community in the Volunteer State, James was a member of the board of directors of ACT 1 and had performed for various local companies, including Circle Players, The Larry Keeton Theatre, KB Productions and SistaStyle, among others. She won particular critical acclaim for her role in KB Productions' 2015 rendition of Del Shores' The Trials and Tribulations of a Trailer Trash Housewife, directed by Clay Hillwig and starring, among others, Cat Eberwine, Andrew Strong, Beth Henderson and LaToya Gardner.

In addition, James became active in local film production endeavors, co-creating, co-writing and co-starring in the streaming comedy series Three's A Pain with Donnie Clark and with co-star David Ditmore (who became a co-producer on the series' second season), and appearing in various video projects created by the prolific Jason Lewis. She also made appearances in such television series as Hap & Leonard, Still The King and the hit ABC series Nashville.

A native of Decaturville, in West Tennessee, James received her undergraduate degree in speech and theater, with a concentration in speech disorders, from Middle Tennessee State University and subsequently earned a master's degree from Tennessee State University. Widely respected as a certified speech-language pathologist, she continued to study in her chosen field and ultimately to become one of the most sought-after voice-over artists in the country.

James narrated titles for HuffPost, TIME and Reuters, and audiobooks for Hatchette Audio, HarperCollins and Hatchette. Her work as a voice-over artist had become so well-known in such a short time, that she was booked well into the last quarter of 2021 at the time of her death.

Remembering LaQuita James

As news of her death began to spread over the weekend on social media, friends, family and co-workers began to share personal reminiscences and tributes to James, providing a more comprehensive view of her stature in the creative community, including:

Nashville Community Mourns The Untimely Passing Of Actor/Producer/Writer/Voiceover Artist LAQUITA JAMES
LaQuita James and Donnie Clark

Donnie Clark (co-creator, co-writer, producer of Three's A Pain): "When I first heard the news Friday morning, I was like most of you: [I was] shocked, devastated, saddened, but for me - most of all - numb. I was sitting in a chair at the YMCA, couldn't move a muscle hearing all this. I couldn't believe was I was hearing. I was waiting for the joke. I wanted to hear L's voice, saying, 'Gotcha, man.' And I guess you can say I've been numb ever since. I still refuse to believe it. I'm still trying to process all this.

"I remember when I first met L. We were extras in a film I don't even think got finished. But that was the day I met my best friend. We've worked on other projects together. Short films, music videos, etc. Then in 2015, we created a l'il web series, Three's A Pain. With the help of our fellow actors and filmmakers, we created a season which was accepted at the Nashville Film Festival, then went to Amazon Prime. And from that point, we created Can You Dig It Productions in which we wrote and collaborated on several short films, videos and co-directed a documentary. And getting ready to work on another short film.

"Now my question is WHY? HOW? WHY DID THIS HAPPEN? HOW am I ever going to work on any production without you L? Her smile was contagious. She was a fun-loving, carefree person. Talented, driven, funny and fearless. Had the world at her fingertips. From her acting to her voiceovers to playing the cello. The woman's gifts came straight from God Himself. And she has done more within the time she had than most people have done in a lifetime.

"L, you didn't just play my sister on screen. You were my big sister off-screen. You watched out for me. You kept me out of trouble. And I promised to GOD ALMIGHTY that I will try my damnedest to keep your legacy going. I will ALWAYS cherish our friendship. I you more than words can say. You are loved and respected. Until we meet again, L. Us against the world, man. God be with you. - RECOGNIZE."

Nashville Community Mourns The Untimely Passing Of Actor/Producer/Writer/Voiceover Artist LAQUITA JAMES
LaQuita James and Cat Eberwine

Cat Eberwine (her co-star in The Trials and Tribulations of a Trailer Trash): "Now that her family has made the announcement, it is with deepest sorrow that I share the passing of our beautiful friend LaQuita James. She was such a shining light in the theater community, always up for a party, and had the biggest smile you ever saw. Not only that, but she was a fierce talent onstage, in the world of audio books and as a cellist. At times like this, it's hard to find the words to express how much we will all miss her, but for me this picture of us in Trials and Tribulations of a Trailer Trash Housewife, an amazing and emotional show we did together years ago, gives a visual image to my grief. Willadean will miss her LaSonia terribly."

Jason Lewis (longtime friend and collaborator): "Not many people can pull off being both a gentle soul as well as charismatic firecracker, yet that was LaQuita James. She was a constant and unwavering source of support to me both professionally and personally. Not a day went by when we weren't texting or messaging or calling. The only thing getting me through this is knowing how pissed she would be if I stayed sad and depressed. We had been workshopping a character for her to play in my viral video series similar to what I had done with now-retired actress Cinda McCain (Loretta Jenkins). We were also in the beginning stages in forming our own theatre company and had started scoping out locations in town to make this a reality. Unfortunately, neither of those projects will come to fruition without her involvement.

Nashville Community Mourns The Untimely Passing Of Actor/Producer/Writer/Voiceover Artist LAQUITA JAMES
Jason Lewis

"On a personal side? My heart is absolutely shattered because I can't hug her or talk to her anymore, without looking crazy. Of course, her response to that would be, "Jason just keep talking to me. It won't matter if anybody thinks you're crazy for it, because c'mon...they already DO. (Insert LaQuita's signature laugh) But...I love you for it." Although she is no longer with us on this physical plane, I will carry her passion and memories with me forever, because once Laquita James leaves an impression on your life, it is eternal.

Alice Raver (her friend and fellow actress): "I called her a 'Renaissance Woman' and she was. LaQuita James was an actor, a voiceover artist, a speech therapist, she had at least one master's degree (but I think she may have had two), she was a published author in at least two different genres, she created a makeup sponge, she was a visual artist, she was a writer and a producer. She was funny. She was so smart. She sang, she played cello. She called out wrong when she saw it. And we had more than one offline discussion abut people we "unfriended" at the same time due to their statements or actions that offended us.

Nashville Community Mourns The Untimely Passing Of Actor/Producer/Writer/Voiceover Artist LAQUITA JAMES
Alice Raver

"When my Mama needed to go into rehab after breaking her leg, I texted her and asked about good/bad rehab places. She called me back immediately, saying that it was too much to text. She knew the best places from her experience as a speech therapist. She gave me her precious time, answered all my questions, and told me to call anytime as I walked a new path with my mother. Why, oh why, do we lose these good, contributing, creative friends in our lives? I'm broken and stunned - what give it was to be in her life."

David Ditmore (her friend and fellow actor and co-star of Three's A Pain): "LaQuita was such an incredible person - she was always looking for new ways to grow her career, connect with friends and family and make her part of the world a better place. She always brought her smile and laugh with her everywhere she went and left the people she met feeling better because of time spent with her.

Nashville Community Mourns The Untimely Passing Of Actor/Producer/Writer/Voiceover Artist LAQUITA JAMES
David Ditmore, LaQuita James
and Donnie Clark

"LaQuita, your light, your laugh, your love and your support will be greatly missed. This loss will take a while to get past - my heart hurts. My thoughts and prayers go out to her family - I hope the many stories being shared by so many of her friends right now will provide you with some comfort during this very difficult time.

"LaQuita, thank you for sharing your incredibl gift and spirit with us."

From my July 4, 2015, review of The Trials and Tribulations of a Trailer Trash: "The play's relentless emotion would be far too much if not for those moments when you are allowed to laugh uproariously at some line delivered by LaQuita James as Willadean's best friend LaSonia Robinson...James is nothing short of delightful, delivering her lines with bravado and an impeccable sense of timing, somehow encapsulating LaSonia's fear and loathing in a single, frozen expression on her face and an intensity in her eyes which shows us what a capable actress she is."

Details about a memorial service for LaQuita James: LaQuita Chantelle James Homegoing Celebration is set for Saturday, June 26, with visitation at 12 noon and memorial service at 1 p.m. at St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church, 688 Middleburg Road, Decaturville, Tennessee. Letters and cards of condolences may be sent to her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Charles James, P.O. Box 74, Decaturville, TN 38329.

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