While he was bartending, customers suggested he pursue a career in acting, and with the encouragement of friends, he met with an agency and started acting classes. Soon after, he landed a couple of guest-starring roles on ABC television shows such as Once & Again and Wasteland. He then landed a series regular role on ABC's Port Charles in 2000, where he portrayed and developed the character of Jamal Woods over the next three years.
His film debut came in All or Nothing (2002). He landed the role of Zane, a sociopath and violent street thug. In 2003, Ellsworth landed a small role in the long awaited sequel, Bad Boys II, his first big-budget film, starring Will Smith and Martin Lawrence. In 2006's Lords of the Underworld, Ellsworth portrays an Assassin named "Nipper", who terminates his victims using the Sai Swords. Ellsworth also appears in an independent feature, Will To Power (2008) written, produced, directed by, and starring David Rountree. The film also features Jerry Mathers and Jonathan Breck. After this film, Ellsworth was offered the opportunity to join Psycho Rock Productions as one of the producing partners.