Nathan Louis Jackson, the playwright, screenwriter and producer who worked on the Netflix superhero series Luke Cage, has died. He was 44.
Jackson died Aug. 22 at his home in Lenexa, Kansas, his wife, Megan Mascorro-Jackson, told The Hollywood Reporter. She said her husband had heart issues — he had undergone an aortic dissection in 2019 — and the family has chosen against an autopsy to determine the cause of death.
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Since 2010, Jackson also wrote and produced for such other shows as Southland, Shameless, Resurrection, 13 Reasons Why, Genius and S.W.A.T.
During the two-season run (2016-18) of Luke Cage, created by Cheo Hodari Coker and starring Mike Colter as the Harlem hero from the Marvel Comics, Jackson wrote two episodes while also serving as a co-producer and executive story editor.
“The series makes a bigger, grander statement about African American men and how we view them,” he told The Kansas City Star a few years ago. “It is undoubtedly a Black show. But at the same time, it’s just a superhero show. We deal with something all the other superheroes deal with. We just do it from a different standpoint.”
Born on Dec. 4, 1978, in Lawrence, Kansas, Jackson attended Washington High School, Kansas City Kansas Community College and Kansas State, where he wrote his first plays.
“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,” he told The New York Times in a 2011 interview. “I wanted to do a piece that speaks for me, so I said, ‘I’ll just write my own stuff.’”
He moved to New York to attend Juilliard and was still in school when his play Broke-ology premiered in 2008 at the Williamstown Theater Festival in Massachusetts. Starring Wendell Pierce in the story of a poor Kansas City family, it opened at the Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater at Lincoln Center in October 2009.
On X, formerly known as Twitter, Pierce paid tribute to Jackson: “He was authentic, Black, insightful, down to earth, literary, uniquely creative, soulful, and a man comfortable in his KC roots. He was a friend who became my brother. I loved him.”
Jackson received two Lorraine Hansberry Playwriting Awards, the Kennedy Center’s Gold Medallion and the Mark Twain Comedy Playwriting Award for his stage work, which also included The Last Black Play, The Mancherios, Sticky Traps, Brother Toad and When I Come to Die, which played off-Broadway in 2011.
He was the playwright in residence at the Kansas City Repertory Theater from 2013-19.
Jackson’s work “often showcased his love for his hometown,” his family noted in a statement. “Having lived and worked on both coasts, Nathan’s heart belonged in Kansas City. Nathan was especially passionate about bar-b-que and his Kansas City Chiefs.
“He was a devoted supporter of the arts community within Kansas City. He will be remembered by his loved ones for his warmth and kindness, and his phone calls. He did not believe in text messaging, preferring to speak voice to voice whenever possible.”
In addition to his wife, survivors include his mother, Bessie; children Amaya and Savion; and siblings Ebony and Wardell. A celebration of life is being planned, and a GoFundMe page has been set up to help his family with expenses.
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