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Director Lynn Shelton dies suddenly at 54: Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling share tributes

She died on Friday from a previously unidentified blood disorder.
/ Source: Today

Lynn Shelton, a prolific television director and independent filmmaker, died from a previously unidentified blood disorder early Saturday morning in Los Angeles. She was 54 years old.

Most recently, Shelton was known for directing several episodes of the popular Hulu series "Little Fires Everywhere," starring Reese Witherspoon. Other popular shows she's worked on include "The Mindy Project," "New Girl," "Glow," "Mad Men" and "Fresh off the Boat."

Lynn Shelton
In this Jan. 17, 2014, file photo, director Lynn Shelton poses at the premiere of the film "Laggies" during the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, in Park City, Utah.Danny Moloshok / AP

In a statement to TODAY, Shelton's romantic partner, comedian and writer Marc Maron, said she collapsed Friday morning after having been ill for a week. He added that "a previously unknown, underlying condition" unrelated to COVID-19 played a role in her death.

The podcaster also shared how devastated he is by the sudden loss.

"I loved her very much as I know many of you did as well," he said. "I am leveled, heartbroken and in complete shock and don’t really know how to move forward in this moment. I needed you all to know."

"We were starting a life together," he continued. "I really can't believe what is happening. This is a horrendous, sad loss."

Colleagues of Shelton have also been sharing their sorrow on social media, posting touching messages on their time spent with the director and her impact on the industry.

Mindy Kaling tweeted her condolences alongside a picture of herself and Shelton.

"Lynn Shelton loved actors and we loved her back," Kaling, 40, wrote. "She was a dream on set. Her lovely, sunny energy was infectious and actors always drifted to video village between takes to be around her. She had such a quiet power and I will miss her. Rest In Peace, Lynn. Love you."

Judd Apatow, who worked with Shelton on the Netflix show "Love," wrote that she was an inspiration to other filmmakers, "as brilliant as we hoped, and everyone adored her."

Reese Witherspoon, 44, who recently collaborated with Shelton on "Little Fires Everywhere" and "The Morning Show," posted a photo of herself and Shelton on Instagram.

"I’m in complete shock that this vibrant, talented, and soulful filmmaker is no longer with us," she wrote. "Lynn was so passionate about our show, Little Fires Everywhere. She said the book truly spoke to her, and that she longed to direct a show that spoke meaningfully about motherhood, sexuality, race, and class in America. And she did."

The actress said that Shelton "cared deeply about the whole cast and crew" and was always willing to share her life with the world.

"Her love of her son, how motherhood changed her life, her life changing decisions that made her the woman she was," Witherspoon continued. "Her spirit touched so many people in the filmmaking world. Her memory lives on in our vivid days together on set and in her wonderful films. Please watch her work and see her talent for yourself."

Kerry Washington, Witherspoon's co-star in "Little Fires Everywhere," also shared a message for Shelton.

"You walked into my life and immediately changed me for the better. What an inspiration!!!!" she tweeted. "Your vision. Your enthusiasm for life. Your fiercely independent spirit. Your humor and love and dedication. As an artist. A mother. A director. A co-conspirator. A light."

The "Scandal" star added: "Thank you for your shining example. And your shimmering grace. I am heartbroken. And sending love to all who know and love you. This is a tremendous loss."

According to a statement from Shelton's spokesperson, Shelton is survived by her son, Milo Seal, husband of many years Kevin Seal, her parents, two brothers, one sister and partner Marc Maron, with whom she spent the last year of her life.

This story was updated on May 18, 2020, to reflect that TODAY obtained Maron's statement and more precisely when Shelton died. Numerous outlets previously reported that she died Friday, but a spokesperson for Maron clarified that she died at about 12:45 a.m. Saturday.