Tessa Thompson

Tessa Thompson (born October 3, 1983) is an American actress, producer, singer, and songwriter. She began her professional acting career with the Los Angeles Women's Shakespeare Company while studying at Santa Monica College. She appeared in productions of The Tempest and Romeo and Juliet, the latter of which earned her a NAACP Theatre Award nomination. Her breakthrough came with leading roles in Tina Mabry's independent drama film Mississippi Damned (2009) and Tyler Perry's drama film For Colored Girls (2010).

Tessa Thompson
Tessa Thompson by Gage Skidmore 3.jpg
Thompson at the 2019 San Diego Comic-Con
Born
Tessa Thompson

(1983-10-03) October 3, 1983 (age 37)
Alma materSanta Monica College
Occupation
  • Actress
  • producer
  • singer
  • songwriter
Years active2002–present

Thompson gained critical acclaim for her performances in the comedy-drama Dear White People (2014), as civil rights activist Diane Nash in the historical drama Selma (2014), and as Bianca Taylor in the sport drama films Creed (2015) and Creed II (2018). She gained mainstream recognition for her starring role as Valkyrie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe superhero films Thor: Ragnarok (2017) and Avengers: Endgame (2019).

She has roles in other movies including the dark comedy Sorry to Bother You (2018), the science-fiction horror film Annihilation (2018), the science fiction action film Men in Black: International (2019), and the musical romance film Lady and the Tramp (2019). On television, she starred in the noir drama series Veronica Mars (2005–2006), the drama series Copper (2012–2013), and the science fiction series Westworld (2016–present).

Early lifeEdit

Tessa Thompson was born in Los Angeles.[1] She was raised between Los Angeles and Brooklyn, New York.[2] Her father, singer-songwriter Marc Anthony Thompson is of Afro-Panamanian descent[3] and is the founder of the musical collective Chocolate Genius, Inc.[2] Her mother has white, Panamanian and Mexican ancestry.[4] She has a younger half-sister, Zsela who is a singer and songwriter.[5]

Thompson attended Santa Monica High School where she played Hermia in a student production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. She attended Santa Monica College (SMC) where she studied cultural anthropology. While at SMC, she also attended lectures by Lisa Wolpe of the Los Angeles Women's Shakespeare Company (LAWSC).[6]

CareerEdit

ActingEdit

 
Thompson in 2014

In 2002, Thompson made her professional stage debut in as one of three actors portraying the role of Ariel in LAWSC's production of The Tempest. In 2003, she appeared as Juliet in Romeo and Juliet: Antebellum New Orleans, 1836 with The Theatre @ Boston Court in Pasadena, California, which earned her an NAACP Theatre Award nomination.[6]

Thompson made her first television appearance in a 2005 episode of the CBS crime drama series Cold Case in the role of a lesbian bootlegger from the 1930s. In the same year, she rose to fame as she landed the role of Jackie Cook on the UPN/CW neo-noir drama series Veronica Mars, starring as a series regular in season two.[4][6] In 2006, she appeared on the ABC medical drama series Grey's Anatomy.[7]

Thompson's first feature film appearance was in the 2006 remake of the horror film When a Stranger Calls playing the role of Scarlett. In 2007, she was a part of the cast on the CW's short-lived drama Hidden Palms, portraying Nikki Barnes.[8] She was next seen opposite Mary Elizabeth Winstead in the dance film Make it Happen in 2008. She also worked on guest star roles on the television series Life and Private Practice, and appeared in season four of Heroes.

In 2010, Thompson appeared in Tyler Perry's stage play adaptation For Colored Girls, after she directly approached Perry to be cast in the film.[6] Also in 2010, she had a guest role as the wife of a detective on the drama series Detroit 187. In 2012, Thompson had a guest role as Gavin Doran's daughter, Sasha, on the horror series 666 Park Avenue. In 2013, she starred in BBC America's first original series Copper.[6][9]

 
Thompson with Sylvester Stallone and Michael B. Jordan in 2015

In 2014, she starred as Samantha White in Justin Simien's Sundance-winning comedy Dear White People. That same year, Thompson played civil rights activist Diane Nash in Ava DuVernay's Martin Luther King Jr. biopic Selma.[10] In 2015, she appeared in Ryan Coogler's Rocky sequel film Creed,[4] and in Nate Ruess' short film The Grand Romantic.[11]

In 2016, she began a starring role in the HBO science fiction drama series Westworld as board director Charlotte Hale.[12][13] Also in 2016, Thompson appeared in the off-Broadway run of the Lydia R. Diamond play Smart People at Second Stage Theatre, starring alongside Mahershala Ali, Joshua Jackson and Anne Son.[14][15]

 
Thompson in 2017

In April 2016, Thompson was cast as Valkyrie[16] in the Marvel Cinematic Universe superhero film Thor: Ragnarok, which was released on November 3, 2017.[17] She then appeared in the science-fiction horror film Annihilation, which was released on February 23, 2018. In June 2017, Thompson was cast in the science-fiction comedy Sorry to Bother You,[18] which was released on July 6, 2018.[19] She reprised her role as Bianca Taylor in the sports drama sequel film Creed II, which was released on November 21, 2018 to positive reviews and strong box office returns.[20]

Thompson reprised her role as Valkryie in the superhero sequel film Avengers: Endgame, which was released on April 26, 2019. She starred as Agent M in the Men in Black spin-off film, Men in Black: International, opposite Chris Hemsworth, her co-star from Thor: Ragnarok and Avengers: Endgame. The film was released on June 14, 2019.[21][22] Also in 2019, she voiced Lady in the musical romance film Lady and the Tramp, a live-action adaptation of the 1955 film of the same name.

At the 2019 San Diego Comic-Con, it was announced that Thompson would reprise her role as Valkyrie in the superhero film Thor: Love and Thunder. Valkyrie, after being declared King of New Asgard, will begin searching for her queen, revealing herself to be the MCU's first major LGBT character.[23]

Thompson co-produced and voiced the lead role in the mystery sci-fi podcast series The Left Right Game, which was released in 2020. The audio drama series featured Thompson as a journalist who follows a story about a group of paranormal adventurers. Amazon Studios secured the screen rights to the series, with Thompson executive producing.[24] Also in 2020, she starred as the title character in the drama film Sylvie's Love, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. She will next star in the drama film Passing, which serves as Rebecca Hall's directorial debut.[25]

MusicEdit

Thompson is also a singer-songwriter. She has in the past been a member of the Los Angeles-based indie electro soul band Caught A Ghost,[26][27][28] and contributed to the soundtracks for both Creed and Creed II, for which she co-wrote and performed several songs with producer Moses Sumney.[29][30]

Personal lifeEdit

Thompson revealed in June 2018 that she is attracted to both men and women,[31][32] but chooses not to use the bisexual label.[33]

FilmographyEdit

FilmEdit

Year Title Role Notes Ref.
2006 When a Stranger Calls Scarlet [34]
2008 Make It Happen Dana [35]
The Human Contract Waitress [36]
2009 Mississippi Damned Kari Peterson [37]
2010 Everyday Black Man Claire [38]
Exquisite Corpse Liz [39]
For Colored Girls Nyla Adrose [40]
2011 Periphery Caitlin [41]
Red & Blue Marbles Becca [41]
2012 Murder on the 13th Floor Nia Palmer [42]
2013 Automotive Maggie [43]
2014 Dear White People Samantha "Sam" White [44]
Grantham & Rose Wallis Also associate producer [45]
Points of Origin Rosemary Short film [46]
Selma Diane Nash [47]
2015 The Grand Romantic Cindy Short film [11]
Creed Bianca Taylor Also songwriter [48]
2016 War on Everyone Jackie Hollis [49]
Salt Water Brit [50]
2017 South Dakota Chris [51]
Thor: Ragnarok Valkyrie / Scrapper 142 [52]
2018 Sorry to Bother You Detroit [53]
Annihilation Josie Radek [54]
Furlough Nicole Stevens [55]
Little Woods Oleander "Ollie" Hale Also executive producer [56]
Dirty Computer Zen / Mary Apple 23 Short film [57]
Creed II Bianca Taylor Also songwriter [58]
2019 Brave Girl Rising Nasro (voice) Short film [59]
Avengers: Endgame Valkyrie [60]
Men in Black: International Molly Wright / Agent M [61]
Between Two Ferns: The Movie Herself [62]
Lady and the Tramp Lady (voice) [63]
2020 Sylvie's Love Sylvie Also executive producer [64]
TBA Passing Irene Redfield Post-production [65]

TelevisionEdit

Year Title Role Notes Ref.
2005 Cold Case Wilhelmina "Billie" Doucette Episode: "Best Friends" [66]
2005–2006 Veronica Mars Jackie Cook Main role (12 episodes) [67]
2006 Grey's Anatomy Camille Travis 2 episodes [68]
The Initiation of Sarah Esme Television film [69]
2007 Hidden Palms Nikki Barnes Main role (7 episodes) [70]
2008 Life Liza Episode: "Trapdoor" [71]
2009 Mental Lainey Jefferson Episode: "Lines in the Sand" [72]
Private Practice Zoe 2 episodes [72]
Heroes Rebecca Taylor 3 episodes [69]
Three Rivers Penelope Kirkell Episode: "A Roll of the Dice" [72]
2010 Betwixt Jenny Television pilot [73]
Blue Belle Blue Lead role (5 episodes) [74]
2010–2011 Detroit 1-8-7 Lauren Washington 3 episodes [75]
2011 Off the Map Sydney Episode: "A Doctor Time Out" [72]
Rizzoli & Isles FBI Agent Anna Farrell Episode: "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother" [72]
2012–2013 666 Park Avenue Laurel Harris / Sasha Doran 5 episodes [69]
Copper Sara Freeman Main role (22 episodes) [9]
2016 BoJack Horseman Tanisha (voice) Episode: "Love And/Or Marriage" [76]
2016–present Westworld Charlotte Hale / Dolores Abernathy Main role (18 episodes) [67]
2018 Portlandia Bailey Episode: "Rose Route" [77]
Dear White People Rikki Carter 2 episodes [78]
2019 Tuca & Bertie Sophie Black (voice) Episode: "The Sex Bugs" [79]
Drunk History Eartha Kitt Episode: "Fame" [80]
2020 RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars Herself Episode: "I'm In Love!" [81]

TheatreEdit

Year Title Role Venue Notes Ref.
2016 Smart People Valerie Second Stage Theater Off-Broadway
[82]

Music videosEdit

Year Song Artist Role Ref.
2015 "Yoga" Janelle Monáe Dancer
[83]
2017 "Moonlight" Jay-Z Monica Geller
[84]
2018 "Make Me Feel" Janelle Monáe Zen / Mary Apple 53
[85]
"Pynk"
2019 "Screwed"
"Uneventful Days" Beck Herself
[86]

Awards and nominationsEdit

Year Association Category Work Result Ref.
2009 American Black Film Festival Best Actor Mississippi Damned Won [87]
2011 Black Reel Awards Best Breakthrough Performance For Colored Girls Won [88]
2014 Gotham Awards Breakthrough Actor Dear White People Won [89]
African-American Film Critics Association Breakthrough Performance Won [90]
2015 NAACP Image Awards Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture Nominated [91]
Black Reel Awards Best Actress Nominated [92]
Hamptons International Film Festival Breakthrough Performer Selma Won [93]
African-American Film Critics Association Best Supporting Actress Creed Won [94]
2016 NAACP Image Awards Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture Nominated [95]
Black Reel Awards Best Supporting Actress Won [96]
Teen Choice Awards Choice Movie Actress: Drama Nominated [97]
2018 NAACP Image Awards Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture Thor: Ragnarok Nominated [98]
BAFTA Awards Rising Star Nominated [99]
Black Reel Awards Best Supporting Actress Nominated [100]
Empire Awards Best Female Newcomer Nominated [101]
Saturn Awards Best Supporting Actress Nominated [102]
Teen Choice Awards Choice Movie Actress: Sci-Fi Nominated [103]
2019 Teen Choice Awards Choice Action Movie Actress Men in Black: International Nominated [104]
People's Choice Awards Favorite Female Movie Star Nominated [105]

ReferencesEdit

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