Tessa Thompson

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Tessa Thompson
Tessa Thompson by Gage Skidmore 2.jpg
Thompson in 2017
Born Tessa Lynn Thompson
(1983-10-03) October 3, 1983 (age 35)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Alma mater Santa Monica College
  • Actress
  • singer-songwriter
Years active 2002–present

Tessa Lynn Thompson[1] (born October 3, 1983) is an American actress and singer-songwriter. Her breakout role was in Tina Mabry's 2009 indie film Mississippi Damned. She gained further recognition for her starring roles as Nyla Adrose in the drama film For Colored Girls (2010), civil rights activist Diane Nash in the historical drama film Selma (2014), Bianca in the sports drama film Creed (2015), Valkyrie in the superhero film Thor: Ragnarok (2017), Josie Radek in the science fiction horror film Annihilation (2018), and Detroit in the science fiction comedy film Sorry to Bother You (2018).

On television, Thompson has starred as Jackie Cook in the mystery drama Veronica Mars (2005–2006), Sara Freeman in the period crime drama Copper (2012–2013), and Charlotte Hale in the HBO science-fiction thriller Westworld (2016–present).

Early life

Thompson was born on October 3, 1983, in Los Angeles, California.[2] She was raised between Los Angeles and Brooklyn, New York.[3] Her father, singer-songwriter Marc Anthony Thompson of the musical collective Chocolate Genius, Inc.,[3] is of Afro-Panamanian descent,[4] while her mother is of European and Mexican ancestry.[5] She attended Santa Monica High School and then Santa Monica College, where she studied cultural anthropology.[6]


Thompson in 2014


In 2002, Thompson made her professional stage debut in Los Angeles Women's Shakespeare Company's production of The Tempest. In 2003, Thompson 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]

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.[7]


Thompson made her first television appearance in a 2005 episode of the CBS series Cold Case in the role of a bootlegging lesbian 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 for the show's second season.[6][5] In 2006, she appeared on the ABC medical drama Grey's Anatomy. In 2007, she was a part of the cast on the CW's short-lived drama series Hidden Palms, portraying Nikki Barnes. She worked on guest star roles on Life and Private Practice, and appeared in the fourth season of Heroes.

In 2010, she had a guest role as the wife of a detective on Detroit 187. In 2012, she had a guest role as Gavin Doran's daughter, Sasha, on 666 Park Avenue. In 2013, she starred in BBC America's first original series Copper.[6][8] In 2016, she began a starring role in the HBO science-fiction drama series Westworld as board director Charlotte Hale.

She appears in the latest season of "Dear White People" as an alt-right TV personality.


With Sylvester Stallone and Michael B. Jordan promoting Creed in 2015

Thompson's first feature film appearance was in the 2006 remake of the horror film When a Stranger Calls playing the role of Scarlett. Thompson was next seen opposite Mary Elizabeth Winstead in the dancing film Make it Happen in 2008.

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] In 2014, she starred as Samantha White in Justin Simien's Sundance-winning comedy film Dear White People. That same year, Thompson played civil rights activist Diane Nash in Ava DuVernay's Martin Luther King, Jr. biopic Selma.[9] In 2015, she appeared in Ryan Coogler's Rocky spin-off sequel film Creed,[5] and in Nate Ruess' short film The Grand Romantic.[10]

In April 2016, Thompson was cast as Valkyrie[11] in the Marvel Cinematic Universe superhero film Thor: Ragnarok, which was released on November 3, 2017.[12] 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 film Sorry to Bother You,[13] which was released on July 6, 2018.[14] Thompson reprised her starring role as Bianca Porter in the sports drama sequel film Creed II, which was released on November 21, 2018.[15]

She will also have a starring role in the Men in Black spin-off film, MIB. The film, which reunites her with Thor: Ragnarok co-star Chris Hemsworth, is set for release on June 14, 2019.[16]

Personal life

In June 2018, Thompson came out as bisexual during an interview with Porter Magazine declaring: "In my family you can be anything you want to be. I'm attracted to men and also to women. If I bring a woman home, or a man, we don't even have to have the discussion".[17] There has been public speculation that Thompson is dating singer Janelle Monáe.[18][19]

Thompson, critical of Hillary Clinton, endorsed Senator Bernie Sanders for President in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.[20]



Year Title Role Notes
2006 When a Stranger Calls Scarlet
2008 Make It Happen Dana
The Human Contract Waitress
2009 Mississippi Damned Kari Peterson (at age 20)
2010 Everyday Black Man Claire
Exquisite Corpse Liz
For Colored Girls Nyla Adrose
2011 Periphery Caitlin
Red & Blue Marbles Becca
2012 Murder on the 13th Floor Nia Palmer
2013 Automotive Maggie
2014 Grantham & Rose Wallis
Selma Diane Nash
2015 Creed Bianca Porter
2016 War on Everyone Jackie Hollis
Salt Water Brit
2017 South Dakota Chris
Thor: Ragnarok Valkyrie / Scrapper 142
2018 Sorry to Bother You Detroit
Annihilation Josie Radek
Furlough Nicole Stevens
Little Woods Ollie
Dirty Computer Zen / Mary Apple 23 Short film
Creed II Bianca Porter
2019 MIB Agent M Post-production[21]
Lady and the Tramp Lady Voice role;
Untitled Avengers Film Valkyrie / Scrapper 142 Post-Production[22]


Year Title Role Notes
2005 Cold Case Wilhemina "Billie" Doucette Episode: "Best Friends"
2005–2006 Veronica Mars Jackie Cook Main role (12 episodes)
2006 Grey's Anatomy Camille Travis Episodes: "Deterioration of the Fight or Flight Response", "Losing My Religion"
The Initiation of Sarah Esme Television film
2007 Hidden Palms Nikki Barnes Main role (7 episodes)
2008 Life Liza Episode: "Trapdoor"
2009 Mental Lainey Jefferson Episode: "Lines in the Sand"
Private Practice Zoe Episodes: "Yours, Mine & Ours", "Strange Bedfellows"
Heroes Rebecca Taylor Episodes: "Hysterical Blindness", "Strange Attractors", "Shadowboxing"
Three Rivers Penelope Kirkell Episode: "A Roll of the Dice"
2010 Betwixt Jenny Television film
Blue Belle Blue Lead role (5 episodes)
2010–2011 Detroit 1-8-7 Lauren Washington Episodes: "Local Hero/Overboard", "Home Invasion/Drive-By", "Blackout"
2011 Off the Map Sydney Episode: "A Doctor Time Out"
Rizzoli & Isles FBI Agent Anna Farrell Episode: "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother"
2012–2013 666 Park Avenue Sasha Doran Recurring role (5 episodes)
Copper Sara Freeman Main role (22 episodes)
2016 BoJack Horseman Tanisha (voice) Episode: "Love And/Or Marriage"
2016–present Westworld Charlotte Hale Main role
2018 Portlandia Bailey Episode: "Rose Route"
Dear White People Rikki Carter Episodes: "Volume 2: Chapter V", "Volume 2: Chapter X"

Music videos

Year Song Artist Role Ref.
2015 "Yoga" Janelle Monáe Dancer
2017 "Moonlight" Jay-Z Monica Geller
2018 "Make Me Feel" Janelle Monáe Zen / Mary Apple 53

Awards and nominations

Year Association Category Work Result Ref.
2009 American Black Film Festival Best Actor Mississippi Damned Won [26]
2011 Black Reel Awards Best Breakthrough Performance For Colored Girls Won [27]
2014 Gotham Awards Breakthrough Actor Dear White People Won [28]
African-American Film Critics Association Breakthrough Performance Won [29]
2015 NAACP Image Awards Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture Nominated [30]
Black Reel Awards Best Actress Nominated [31]
Hamptons International Film Festival Breakthrough Performer Selma Won [29]
African-American Film Critics Association Best Supporting Actress Creed Won [32]
2016 NAACP Image Awards Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture Nominated [33]
Black Reel Awards Best Supporting Actress Won [29]
Teen Choice Awards Choice Movie Actress: Drama Nominated [34]
2018 NAACP Image Awards Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture Thor: Ragnarok Nominated [29]
BAFTA Awards Rising Star Nominated [35]
Black Reel Awards Best Supporting Actress Nominated [29]
Empire Awards Best Female Newcomer Nominated [29]
Saturn Awards Best Supporting Actress Nominated [36]
Teen Choice Awards Choice Movie Actress: Sci-Fi Nominated [37]


  1. ^ "Tessa Thompson". Familysearch.org.
  2. ^ "Tessa Thompson". TVGuide.com. Archived from the original on September 8, 2016.
  3. ^ a b Thompson in Morgan, Kai (May 5, 2014). "Exclusive: Tessa Thompson on varied dreams and effecting change". EmbraceYouMagazine.com. Archived from the original on March 31, 2016. Retrieved July 21, 2015.
  4. ^ https://www.essence.com/awards-events/red-carpet/black-women-hollywood/tessa-thompson-speech-mexican-mother-pride-blackness
  5. ^ a b c Zakarin, Jordan (December 29, 2014). "Tessa Thompson on Selma, Dear White People, and Her Breakthrough Year". Yahoo! Movies. Archived from the original on September 21, 2016. Retrieved April 10, 2017. ...a Panamanian father and half Mexican, half white mother.
  6. ^ a b c d e Behrens, Deborah (July 11, 2012). "Tessa Thompson Returns to Shakespeare as Rosalind". @ This Stage (LA Stage Alliance). Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved July 21, 2015.
  7. ^ "Past Shows – Season 37". 2econdStageTheatre.com. Archived from the original on October 13, 2016. Retrieved December 5, 2016.
  8. ^ "BBC - BBC America's first original drama, Copper, to premiere August 19 - Media Centre". www.bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 2018-07-17.
  9. ^ Grigg-Spall, Holly (n.d.). "Tessa Thompson". IssueMagazine.com. Archived from the original on March 29, 2015. Retrieved July 21, 2015.
  10. ^ Ruess, Nate. "The Grand Romantic Chapter 1 debut". Apple Music Connect.
  11. ^ Strom, Marc (May 20, 2016). "Marvel Studios Confirms Stellar New Cast Members of the Highly Anticipated 'Thor: Ragnarok'". Marvel.com. Archived from the original on April 10, 2017. Retrieved May 20, 2016.
  12. ^ Busch, Anita (April 11, 2016). "Tessa Thompson Joins The Marvel Universe In 'Thor: Ragnarok'". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on February 23, 2017. Retrieved April 10, 2017.
  13. ^ Busch, Anita (June 15, 2017). "Tessa Thompson, Lakeith Stanfield, Steven Yeun To Star In 'Sorry To Bother You'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved May 19, 2018.
  14. ^ Blistein, Jon (May 17, 2018). "Watch Lakeith Stanfield Make Millions With 'White Voice' in Wild 'Sorry to Bother You' Trailer". Rolling Stone. Retrieved May 19, 2018.
  15. ^ Kroll, Justin (December 11, 2017). "Steven Caple Jr. to Direct 'Creed 2' Starring Michael B. Jordan and Sylvester Stallone (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved April 18, 2018.
  16. ^ Kit, Borys (March 21, 2018). "Tessa Thompson to Join Chris Hemsworth in 'Men in Black' Spinoff (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved April 18, 2018.
  17. ^ Sharf, Zack (June 29, 2018). "Tessa Thompson Comes Out, Says She and Janelle Monae Wrestle With Privacy vs. Visibility". IndieWire.
  18. ^ Sharf, Zack (June 29, 2018). "Tessa Thompson Comes Out, Says She and Janelle Monae Wrestle With Privacy vs. Visibility". IndieWire.
  19. ^ Net-A-Porter. "Tessa Thompson models the season's statement pieces in #PorterEdit". NET-A-PORTER. Retrieved 2018-07-21.
  20. ^ "Rosario Dawson and Tessa Thompson Know Bernie Sanders Is "the Feminist in This Race"". Elle. April 1, 2016. Retrieved April 3, 2016.
  21. ^ Megan Peters (October 17, 2018). "Chris Hemsworth Confirms 'Men in Black' Wraps Filming". Retrieved November 1, 2018.
  22. ^ "Tessa Thompson Heads to 'Avengers 4' Set in Atlanta With Chris Hemsworth". TheWrap. 2018-09-22. Retrieved 2018-09-22.
  23. ^ Framke, Caroline. "Janelle Monáe doubles down on feminist self-love with her new music video for "Pynk"". Vox. Retrieved June 20, 2018.
  24. ^ Framke, Caroline. "The video for Jay-Z's "Moonlight" is an all-black Friends remake — until it's not". Vox. Retrieved June 20, 2018.
  25. ^ Grierson, Tim. "Why Janelle Monae's 'Dirty Computer' Film Is a Timely New Sci-Fi Masterpiece". Rolling Stone. Retrieved April 27, 2018.
  26. ^ "2009 Winners". American Black Film Festival. Archived from the original on February 7, 2017. Retrieved June 18, 2016.
  27. ^ "Winners > 2011". Black Reel Awards. Archived from the original on January 14, 2016. Retrieved June 18, 2016.
  28. ^ "2014 Gotham Awards: Complete Winners List". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on December 27, 2016. Retrieved June 18, 2016.
  29. ^ a b c d e f "Tessa Thompson - Awards - IMDb". Retrieved July 18, 2018.
  30. ^ "NAACP Image Awards 2015: Full list of nominees and winners". Los Angeles Times. February 6, 2015. Archived from the original on December 23, 2016.
  31. ^ "And The Nominees Are..." [15th Annual] Black Reel Awards. December 17, 2014. Archived from the original on March 27, 2016. Retrieved June 18, 2016.
  32. ^ "Oprah Winfrey, Tyler Perry and Ava Duvernay Lead an All-Star Line Up at the African American Film Critics Association Award Show". 2015 Winners. African-American Film Critics Association. February 5, 2015. Archived from the original on June 29, 2016. Retrieved June 18, 2016.
  33. ^ "2016 Image Award Winners". Variety. Retrieved September 20, 2016.
  34. ^ Goodman, Jessica (July 31, 2016). "Teen Choice Awards 2016: See the full list of winners". Entertainment Weekly. Time Inc. Retrieved August 31, 2017.
  35. ^ "Bafta Film Awards 2018: All the winners". BBC News. 18 February 2018. Retrieved 19 February 2018.
  36. ^ "Here Are The 44th Annual Saturn Awards Nominations". Blending Cool. March 15, 2018. Retrieved 2018-03-16.
  37. ^ Cohen, Jess (June 13, 2018). "Teen Choice Awards 2018: Avengers: Infinity War, Black Panther and Riverdale Among Top Nominees". E! News. Retrieved June 13, 2018.

External links

  • Tessa Thompson on IMDb
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