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Tessa Lynn Thompson[1] (born October 3, 1983) is an American actress, singer, and 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 Taylor in the sports drama film Creed (2015) and its sequel Creed II (2018), 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 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]


File:Tessa Thompson - DSC 0109 (cropped).jpg

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 season two.[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 Hidden Palms, portraying Nikki Barnes. She worked on guest star roles on Life and Private Practice, and appeared in season four 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.


File:Sylvester Stallone, Tessa Thompson, and Michael B. Jordan promoting Creed at the Philadelphia Art Museum.JPG

Thompson with Stallone and 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 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 sequel 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 Sorry to Bother You,[13] which was released on July 6, 2018.[14] She reprised her role as Bianca Taylor in 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, Men in Black: International. The film, which reunites her with Thor: Ragnarok co-star Chris Hemsworth, is set for release on June 14, 2019.[16][17]


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,[18][19][20] and contributed to the soundtracks for both Creed and Creed II, for which she co-wrote and performed several songs with producer Moses Sumney.[21][22]

Personal life

Thompson came out as bisexual in an interview published in June 2018, 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".[23]

Thompson, critical of Hillary Clinton, endorsed Senator Bernie Sanders for President in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.[24]



Year Title Role Notes
2006 When a Stranger Calls Scarlet
2008 Make It Happen Dana
Template:Sortname 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 Dear White People Samantha "Sam" White
Grantham & Rose Wallis
Selma Diane Nash
2015 Creed Bianca Taylor Also Songwriter
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 Taylor
2019 Avengers: Endgame Valkyrie Post-production[25]
Men in Black: International Agent M Post-production
Lady and the Tramp Lady (voice) Post-production


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"
Template:Sortname Esme TV 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 TV film
Blue Belle Blue Lead role (5 episodes)
2010–2011 Detroit 1-8-7 Lauren Washington 3 episodes
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 Template:Abbr
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 Template:Abbr
2009 American Black Film Festival Best Actor Mississippi Damned Template:Won [29]
2011 Black Reel Awards Best Breakthrough Performance For Colored Girls Template:Won [30]
2014 Gotham Awards Breakthrough Actor Dear White People Template:Won [31]
African-American Film Critics Association Breakthrough Performance Template:Won [32]
2015 NAACP Image Awards Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture Template:Nom [33]
Black Reel Awards Best Actress Template:Nom [34]
Hamptons International Film Festival Breakthrough Performer Selma Template:Win [32]
African-American Film Critics Association Best Supporting Actress Creed Template:Win [35]
2016 NAACP Image Awards Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture Template:Nom [36]
Black Reel Awards Best Supporting Actress Template:Win [32]
Teen Choice Awards Choice Movie Actress: Drama Template:Nom [37]
2018 NAACP Image Awards Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture Thor: Ragnarok Template:Nom [32]
BAFTA Awards Rising Star Template:Nom [38]
Black Reel Awards Best Supporting Actress Template:Nom [32]
Empire Awards Best Female Newcomer Template:Nom [32]
Saturn Awards Best Supporting Actress Template:Nom [39]
Teen Choice Awards Choice Movie Actress: Sci-Fi Template:Nom [40]
  1. Tessa Thompson.
  2. Tessa Thompson. Archived from the original on September 8, 2016.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Thompson in Morgan, Kai. "Exclusive: Tessa Thompson on varied dreams and effecting change",, May 5, 2014. Retrieved on July 21, 2015. Archived from the original on March 31, 2016. 
  4. Tessa Thompson On Her Blackness - Essence.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 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 on April 10, 2017. “...a Panamanian father and half Mexican, half white mother.”
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 Behrens, Deborah. "Tessa Thompson Returns to Shakespeare as Rosalind", @ This Stage (LA Stage Alliance), July 11, 2012. Retrieved on July 21, 2015. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. 
  7. Past Shows – Season 37. Archived from the original on October 13, 2016. Retrieved on December 5, 2016.
  8. BBC - BBC America’s first original drama, Copper, to premiere August 19 - Media Centre (en-GB).
  9. Grigg-Spall, Holly. "Tessa Thompson",, n.d.. Retrieved on July 21, 2015. Archived from the original on March 29, 2015. 
  10. The Grand Romantic Chapter 1 debut.
  11. Strom, Marc (May 20, 2016). Marvel Studios Confirms Stellar New Cast Members of the Highly Anticipated 'Thor: Ragnarok'. Archived from the original on April 10, 2017. Retrieved on May 20, 2016.
  12. Busch, Anita (April 11, 2016). Tessa Thompson Joins The Marvel Universe In ‘Thor: Ragnarok’. Archived from the original on February 23, 2017. Retrieved on April 10, 2017.
  13. Busch, Anita (June 15, 2017). Tessa Thompson, Lakeith Stanfield, Steven Yeun To Star In 'Sorry To Bother You'.
  14. Blistein, Jon (May 17, 2018). Watch Lakeith Stanfield Make Millions With 'White Voice' in Wild 'Sorry to Bother You' Trailer. Rolling Stone.
  15. Kroll, Justin. "Steven Caple Jr. to Direct ‘Creed 2’ Starring Michael B. Jordan and Sylvester Stallone (EXCLUSIVE)", Variety, December 11, 2017. Retrieved on April 18, 2018. Template:Languageicon 
  16. "Tessa Thompson to Join Chris Hemsworth in 'Men in Black' Spinoff (Exclusive)", The Hollywood Reporter, March 21, 2018. Retrieved on April 18, 2018. 
  17. Chitwood, Adam (2018-12-05). The ‘Men in Black’ Reboot Is Titled 'Men in Black International' (en-US).
  18. "'Dear White People' Star Tessa Thompson Spills About Her Secret Music Career", Billboard. 
  19. Lifeminute (2013-12-03), Caught a Ghost Talk Tour and Upcoming Album Human Nature, <>. Retrieved on 25 November 2018 
  20. "Tessa Thompson and Jesse Nolan Make Music Magic in Caught A Ghost", ELLE, 2014-01-20. Template:Languageicon 
  21. Brayson, Johnny. "Watch Tessa Thompson Explain Her Inspiration For The Songs She Wrote For ‘Creed 2’", Bustle. Template:Languageicon 
  22. Lee, Chris. "How Rihanna Inspired Tessa Thompson’s Creed II Character", Vulture. Template:Languageicon 
  23. Mulkerrins, Jane (June 29, 2018). Break the Mold, with Tessa Thompson. Retrieved on January 2, 2019.; Sharf, Zack (June 29, 2018). Tessa Thompson Comes Out, Says She and Janelle Monae Wrestle With Privacy vs. Visibility..
  24. Rosario Dawson and Tessa Thompson Know Bernie Sanders Is "the Feminist in This Race". Elle (April 1, 2016). Retrieved on April 3, 2016.
  25. "Tessa Thompson Heads to 'Avengers 4' Set in Atlanta With Chris Hemsworth", TheWrap, 2018-09-22. Template:Languageicon 
  26. Framke, Caroline. Janelle Monáe doubles down on feminist self-love with her new music video for “Pynk”. Retrieved on June 20, 2018.
  27. Framke, Caroline. The video for Jay-Z’s “Moonlight” is an all-black Friends remake — until it’s not. Retrieved on June 20, 2018.
  28. Grierson, Tim. Why Janelle Monae's 'Dirty Computer' Film Is a Timely New Sci-Fi Masterpiece. Retrieved on April 27, 2018.
  29. 2009 Winners. American Black Film Festival. Archived from the original on February 7, 2017. Retrieved on June 18, 2016.
  30. Winners > 2011. Black Reel Awards. Archived from the original on January 14, 2016. Retrieved on June 18, 2016.
  31. 2014 Gotham Awards: Complete Winners List. The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on December 27, 2016. Retrieved on June 18, 2016.
  32. 32.0 32.1 32.2 32.3 32.4 32.5 Tessa Thompson - Awards - IMDb. Retrieved on July 18, 2018.
  33. "NAACP Image Awards 2015: Full list of nominees and winners", Los Angeles Times, February 6, 2015. Archived from the original on December 23, 2016. 
  34. And The Nominees Are.... [15th Annual] Black Reel Awards (December 17, 2014). Archived from the original on March 27, 2016. Retrieved on June 18, 2016.
  35. Oprah Winfrey, Tyler Perry and Ava Duvernay Lead an All-Star Line Up at the African American Film Critics Association Award Show. African-American Film Critics Association (February 5, 2015). Archived from the original on June 29, 2016. Retrieved on June 18, 2016.
  36. 2016 Image Award Winners.
  37. Goodman, Jessica (July 31, 2016). Teen Choice Awards 2016: See the full list of winners. Entertainment Weekly. Time Inc.. Retrieved on August 31, 2017.
  38. Bafta Film Awards 2018: All the winners. BBC News (18 February 2018). Retrieved on 19 February 2018.
  39. Here Are The 44th Annual Saturn Awards Nominations (March 15, 2018).
  40. Cohen, Jess (June 13, 2018). Teen Choice Awards 2018: Avengers: Infinity War, Black Panther and Riverdale Among Top Nominees. E! News. Retrieved on June 13, 2018.