Brenda Deiss, Breakout ‘Red Rocket’ Film Star, Dies at 60

Brenda Deiss, Breakout ‘Red Rocket’ Film Star, Dead at 60

Brenda Deiss, the breakout star of Sean Baker’s Red Rocket indie movie in 2021, died at 60.

The unexpected movie actress who appeared alongside Simon Rex in the drama about a washed-up actor looking to reboot his Texas hometown died on Feb. 14 in Clear Lake, Texas, from complications following a stroke in January, a spokesperson for the film told The Hollywood Reporter.

Brenda Deiss was born in Texas on Sept. 9, 1961, two days before Hurricane Carla made landfall. She spent her entire life in Texas and did work stints as a secretary at NASA, a caregiver, and a home health aid to friends in need. She was also a devout member of the Texas City Seventh-Day Adventist Church.

In 2020, when writer-director Baker was scouting locations for a new film to be shot in the area of Texas City, a chance encounter with Deiss changed her life. After meeting her, Baker hired Deiss to fill the role of Lil, an eccentric Texan matriarch of a family that had hit hard times.

Red Rocket was filmed in September and October 2020 before a world premiere at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival and a theatrical release by A24

Baker paid tribute to Deiss on news of her death. “In the short time we spent together, she created with us, laughed with us, and shared her stories with us, some of them heartbreaking and others insightful and fascinating. We all have people in our lives that change them for the better, and Brenda was one of those people for me. I will miss her dearly.”

And Bree Elrod, who played Deiss’ on-screen daughter in Red Rocket, added in her statement: “We shared a lot of memorable moments on and off-screen. I will never forget her laugh, the stories she so generously shared, and the many conversations we had about all aspects of life. She holds a very special place in my heart. I will miss her very much.”

Deiss leaves behind a daughter, Destani Deiss, and is also survived by her two best friends, Johnny Cortez and Karen Adams. Those looking to make donations in Deiss’ memory are asked to give the Christus Our Daily Bread homeless shelter in Galveston, Texas.