Tessa Thompson

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Tessa Thompson
Tessa Thompson - DSC 0109 (cropped).jpg
Thompson at the 46th NAACP Image Awards Nominee Press Conference
Born Tessa Lynne Thompson
(1983-10-03) October 3, 1983 (age 33)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Occupation Actress, musician
Years active 2002–present

Tessa Lynne Thompson (born October 3, 1983)[1] is an American actress and musician. She played Jackie Cook on the television series Veronica Mars, Sara Freeman in the period crime drama Copper, Nyla Adrose in the film For Colored Girls, civil rights activist Diane Nash in Selma, and Bianca in Creed. She stars as Charlotte Hale on the HBO series Westworld.

Early life[edit]

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



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.[4]

In 2016 she appeared in the off-Broadway run of the Lydia R. Diamond play Smart People at Second Stage Theatre, alongside Mahershala Ali, Joshua Jackson and Anne Son.[5]


Thompson made her first TV 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.[4][3] 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 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.[4] In 2016 she had a guest role in three episodes of Westworld.


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

Thompson's first feature film appearance was in the 2006 remake of the horror film When a Stranger Calls playing the role of Scarlet. 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.[4] In 2014, she starred in Justin Simien's Sundance winner Dear White People, and played civil rights activist Diane Nash in Ava DuVernay's Martin Luther King, Jr. biopic Selma.[6] In 2015, she appeared in Ryan Coogler's Rocky spin-off-sequel film Creed.[3] Also in 2015, she appeared in Nate Ruess short film The Grand Romantic.[7] In April 2016, it was announced that Thompson had been cast in the upcoming superhero film Thor: Ragnarok set for release on November 3, 2017.[8] In May 2016, Thompson was revealed to be portraying Valkyrie in Thor: Ragnarok.[9]


Thompson has produced music as part of the electro band Caught A Ghost. The band provided songs for the film Dear White People, [6]



Year Title Role Notes
2006 When a Stranger Calls Scarlet
2008 Make It Happen Dana
2008 Human Contract, TheThe Human Contract Waitress
2009 Mississippi Damned Kari Peterson
2010 Everyday Black Man[citation needed] Claire
2010 Exquisite Corpse Liz
2010 For Colored Girls Nyla Adrose
2011 Periphery[citation needed] Caitlin
2011 Red & Blue Marbles[citation needed] Becca
2012 Murder on the 13th Floor[citation needed] Nia Palmer
2013 South Dakota[citation needed] Chris
2013 Automotive[citation needed] Maggie
2014 Grantham & Rose Wallis
2014 Dear White People Samantha "Sam" White
2014 Selma Diane Nash
2015 Creed Bianca
2016 War on Everyone Jackie Hollis
2017 Thor: Ragnarok Valkyrie Post-production
2018 Annihilation Filming
2018 Avengers: Infinity War Valkyrie Filming


Year Title Role Notes
2005 Cold Case Wilhemina "Billie" Doucette Episode: "Best Friends"
2005–2006 Veronica Mars Jackie Cook Regular role (22 episodes)
2006 Grey's Anatomy Camille Travis Episodes: "Deterioration of the Fight or Flight Response", "Losing My Religion",
2006 Initiation of Sarah, TheThe Initiation of Sarah 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"
2009 Private Practice Zoe Episodes: "Yours, Mine & Ours", "Strange Bedfellows"
2009 Heroes Rebecca Taylor Episodes: "Hysterical Blindness", "Strange Attractors", "Shadowboxing"
2009 Three Rivers Penelope Kirkell Episode: "A Roll of the Dice"
2010 Betwixt Jenny TV film
2010 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"
2011 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)
2012–2013 Copper Sara Freeman Main role (19 episodes)
2016 BoJack Horseman Tanisha (voice) Episode: "Love And/Or Marriage"
2016 Westworld Charlotte Hale 5 episodes


Year Award Category Work Result
2009 American Black Film Festival Best Actor Mississippi Damned Won[10]
2011 Black Reel Awards Best Breakthrough Performance For Colored Girls Won[11]
2014 Gotham Awards Breakthrough Actor Dear White People Won[12]
2014 NAACP Image Awards Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture Dear White People Nominated[13]
2014 Black Reel Awards Best Actress Dear White People Nominated[14]
2015 African-American Film Critics Association Best Supporting Actress Creed Won[15]


  1. ^ "Tessa Thompson". TVGuide.com. Archived from the original on September 8, 2016. 
  2. ^ 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. 
  3. ^ 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. 
  4. ^ 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. 
  5. ^ "Past Shows – Season 37". 2econdStageTheatre.com. Archived from the original on October 13, 2016. Retrieved 2016-12-05. 
  6. ^ a b Grigg-Spall, Holly (n.d.). "Tessa Thompson". IssueMagazine.com. Archived from the original on March 29, 2015. Retrieved July 21, 2015. 
  7. ^ Ruess, Nate. "The Grand Romantic Chapter 1 debut". Apple Music Connect. 
  8. ^ Busch, Anita (April 11, 2016). "Tessa Thompson Joins The Marvel Universe In ‘Thor: Ragnarok’". Deadline.com. Archived from the original on February 23, 2017. Retrieved April 10, 2017. 
  9. ^ 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. 
  10. ^ "2009 Winners". American Black Film Festival. Archived from the original on February 7, 2017. Retrieved June 18, 2016. 
  11. ^ "Winners > 2011". Black Reel Awards. Archived from the original on January 14, 2016. Retrieved June 18, 2016. 
  12. ^ "2014 Gotham Awards: Complete Winners List". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on December 27, 2016. Retrieved June 18, 2016. 
  13. ^ "NAACP Image Awards 2015: Full list of nominees and winners". Los Angeles Times. February 6, 2015. Archived from the original on December 23, 2016. 
  14. ^ "And The Nominees Are...". [15th Annual] Black Reel Awards. December 17, 2014. Archived from the original on March 27, 2016. Retrieved June 18, 2016. 
  15. ^ "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. 

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