‘For Colored Girls’: Here’s why Tessa Thompson is everything
Tessa Thompson is absolutely on fire! As well appearing in a slew of irresistibly cool music videos by artists like Janelle Monáe and JAY-Z, the actor is also storming the big & small screens alike with her iconoclastic talent. Across a range of independent & mainstream Hollywood hits, Thompson is nailing roles that challenge stuffy cinematic archetypes and explore well-developed and captivating female characters.
To celebrate the release of Avengers: Endgame and her performance as Valkyrie, we’re looking at our queen’s favorite roles. Don’t forget: we can look forward to seeing her soon in Men in Black: International, Lady and the Tramp, and Sylvie.
Though Thompson’s Josie isn’t on screen nearly as much as we would have liked in Alex Garland’s mysterious sci-fi horror, but she nonetheless adds a savvy sparkle of charm to the story.
Veronica Mars (2005 – 06)
As mysterious rich-girl rebel Jackie Cook in Rob Thomas’s revered teen detective show, Thompson brought captivating dimensions to a character who easily could have been played as a straight-up mean girl.
Though Jackie started out as an ample nemesis to Kristen Bell’s Veronica, she soon became a sympathetic, complex character full of hidden depths that Thompson brought to the surface with slick and masterful subtlety.
Copper (2012 – 13)
Set in 1860s New York, this short-lived period drama packed in a fair amount of action. Thompson’s role as Sara Freeman saw her depicting a woman with a newfound distrust of white men after the lynching of her two brothers during the Draft Riots. Needless to say, she brought power and rage to the role and was a scene-stealer throughout the show’s two-season history.
Westworld (2016 – )
Charlotte Hale (Westworld’s stone-cold executive) is shrewd and tough, placating the sensibilities of big business with a wry smile and conniving ingenuity. Thompson’s understated performance shines in a show stacked with bold, larger-than-life characters.
Thompson played seminal trailblazer Diane Nash in Ava DuVernay’s critically acclaimed movie chronicling Martin Luther King, Jr.’s campaign to secure equal voting rights. Though the role was a little smaller than you may expect for an historical figure with such an important legacy, the actor’s performance is still nothing short of a triumph.
Dear White People (2014)
Justin Simien’s irreverent satire saw Thompson playing Samantha: an unapologetically outspoken black rights activist unafraid to stand by her beliefs, whatever the cost. Her performance is staggering, offering a glimpse of a simmering anger beneath a veneer of self-assured cool.
Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
Taika Waititi’s reboot of the Thor universe cleverly rewrote the rulebook of what superhero movies could achieve. With it, the movie offered one of the most badass, unique female heroes seen on screen: Thompson’s heavy-drinking, formidable, and blatantly queer Asgardian warrior.
For Colored Girls (2010)
Based on Ntozake Shange’s incredible play For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide, Thompson’s performance in Tyler Perry’s adaptation is a beaming joy to behold: poetic, poignant, and powerful. Despite starring alongside a strong ensemble cast including Whoopi Goldberg (The Color Purple), Thandie Newton (Crash), and Kerry Washington (Scandal), the actor manages to stand out with one of the film’s best performances.
There’s little else we can say about how phenomenal Thompson is in Ryan Coogler’s smart extension of the Rocky saga, except she’s an absolute knockout. Delivering a powerhouse performance as Bianca, hip musician girlfriend of Adonis Johnson (Michael B. Jordan), Thompson squares up to every other solid performance in the movie and swings back with twice as much force.
Little Woods (2019)
Nia DaCosta’s drama follows two estranged sisters looking to untangle themselves from their poverty-stricken circumstances. Little Woods debuted at Tribeca Film Festival.
Thompson plays an illegal pharmaceutical seller looking to go legit alongside Lily James (Baby Driver) who plays her helpless sister, a single parent. These female characters are raw, bold, and strong-willed. This movie gave Thompson another opportunity to depict a tenacious woman within a powerful story.
Sorry to Bother You (2018)
We’re huge fans of everything Thompson has done thus far in her career, but we do have a soft spot for Sorry to Bother You: it absolutely brings cinematic realness into the 21st century. As well as being a total cult classic in the making, this sociopolitical satirical film from musician-turned-director Boots Riley is the 1984 of 2018.
Thompson stars alongside Lakeith Stanfield as his performance artist girlfriend Detroit. You have to see this movie to believe it.