David A. Arnold, the comedian, actor, writer, and showrunner known for creating the Nickelodeon series That Girl Lay Lay, died Wednesday at 54.
"It is with great sadness that we confirm the untimely passing of our husband, father, brother and friend, David A. Arnold," his family said in a statement provided to EW, adding that he died peacefully in his home due to natural causes. "Please keep our family in prayer and respect our privacy at this time as we are all shocked and devastated by this loss."
Recognized for his hilarious takes on relationships and family life, Arnold had recently launched a comedy tour and completed shows in Charlotte, N.C.; Phoenix; and San Francisco. He was scheduled to perform multiple nights at the Stress Factory Comedy Club in New Brunswick, N.J., later this month.
Picture Perfect/Shutterstock David A. Arnold
In addition to his live shows, Arnold released two comedy specials: 2020's Fat Ballerina and 2022's It Ain't For the Weak, the latter of which was produced by Kevin Hart.
Fellow comedian Chris Spencer, one of Arnold's best friends, said in a statement provided to EW, "Our closely knit comedy community mourns the loss of one of the greatest to ever do it. He was admired by his peers, respected by other veterans, and revered by the burgeoning comedians that he mentored. He will be deeply missed, especially by his comedy fraternity."
Filmmaker Ava DuVernay paid tribute to Arnold on his final Instagram post, writing in a comment, "Truly can't believe it. My mind can't even grasp it. The thought keeps slipping away. Too soon. But, a dozen more decades wouldn't have been enough. What a light you are. So luminous that it will keep shining here even as you journey on."
Offstage, Arnold served as the creator, writer, and showrunner of That Girl Lay Lay, a comedy about a girl named Sadie (Gabrielle Nevaeh Green) who magically brings an A.I. avatar named Lay Lay (played by Alaya High, a.k.a. music artist That Girl Lay Lay) to life. The show debuted in September 2021 and returned for a second season this past July.
Arnold's other writing and producing credits included the Full House revival Fuller House, the Nickelodeon series Side Hustle, and the BET+ series Bigger.
Arnold is survived by his wife, Julie Harkness; daughters Anna Grace and Ashlyn Elizabeth; and his mother, sisters, and extended family.