nnElla was born to an Eritrean mother and a US Air Force Officer who was stationed in the country at the time. Her parents moved to Germany while Ella was still an infant yet continued to return frequently to Asmara to visit family until the civil war made it unsafe for them to travel. The family lived off base in small town called Kindsbach, where Ella was enrolled in a German school, learning to speak both German and French fluently while her mother continued to teach her Tigrinya and English at home. Kindsbach was where she first discovered her love for performing, partaking in local theater and school productions.
It wasn’t until she was a teenager that her mother made a decision to move the family to the United States. By this time her younger sister Angela had been born and her parents had divorced. They settled in Connecticut where Ella attended both High School and College earning a BA in Biology.
While a junior in High School a local modeling scout discovered Ella. She spent the next two summers traveling to New York and Paris but waited until graduation to pursue her career full time. She was represented by Elite and had been steadily working for a year when a severe accident forced her to reconsider her long-term goals. Ella opted to take a break and finish her degree.
Three years later she moved back to New York and returned to the modeling world where Ella appeared in numerous print ads for the Gap, L’Oreal, Tiffany & Co, and in editorials for magazines such as Elle, Glamour and Vogue.
During this time she continued to travel back and forth to Los Angeles for print as well as commercial work. It was on one of these trips that she booked her first role in the Artist View Film Disturbance. During this same trip she met Brenda Hampton, creator of 7th Heaven, at a charity event who at the time was looking for an East African actress for an upcoming episode. She booked Ella for a guest star spot off of family pictures with her in traditional dress.
Soon after that episode aired, Ella met her manager John Sobanski in Los Angeles. who introduced her to her agent Monica Barkett at Global Artist Agency.
Ella appeared opposite Bruce Willis in the Touchstone thriller Surrogates and has guest starred on hit series such as CSI NY, How I Met Your Mother, NCIS, NCIS Los Angeles, Entourage and the breakout shows Parenthood and Castle. She starred in the Karl Urban and Michael Ealy helmed "Almost Human" as well as recurring along Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson on the new HBO hit BALLERS. She will next share the big screen with Zoe Saldana in the Nina Simone biopic playing the role of Lorraine Hansberry and returned to reprise her role as Jada Khaled on NCIS LA as well as recently wrapping a major Season 4 recurring arc on MISTRESSES.
Most recently he has joined Antoine Fuqua's new series ICE for DIRECT TV in the role of the South African enforcer Lala Agabaria.