Time to kick off our ‘Artist Spotlight’ section, which will feature the best upcoming talent who are redefining the industry.
These artists have the potential to be the next big thing and be pop culture icons. This time around we feature American actress and musician Tessa Lynne Thompson.
Actress, Writer, Singer and Producer – She is the complete package. Tessa Thompson has talent running through her DNA. She is the daughter of singer-songwriter Marc Anthony Thompson, of the New York based band ‘Chocolate Genius’. Her grandfather is actor, musician Bobby Ramos of Latin Cruise fame. The 1983 born artist has been part of the entertainment industry for nearly one and a half decade – That’s almost half her life but she really bursted into the scene in 2014 with Sundance-award-winning ‘Dear White People’, in which she played a black student at an Ivy League college, and then the Academy Award-winning ‘Selma’, in which she portrayed civil-rights activist Diane Nash.
It’s been a long journey for Tessa Thompson and despite her talent and insight she had to do it the hard way from humble beginnings to great stardom. Nothing came to her overnight and she didn’t have the silver spoon handed to her. ‘Hard work’ and ‘self belief’ was her mantra to success. She also believes in strong female characters and is on a constant lookout for strong female roles which have significance. Tessa Thompson’s career trajectory is the best example to all young, wannabe artist to learn from. Success doesn’t come overnight you have to learn all the tricks of the trade, take one step at a time and keep your eye on the big prize and never look back. Let’s have a sneak peek at Tessa Thompson’s rise and the potential she has to be one of the most influential pop culture icon in the future.
Tessa Thompson started her foray in the entertainment industry by doing some theatre work. In 2002, she appeared in theatre production of ‘The Tempest’ and in 2003, Tessa Thompson appeared as Juliet in ‘Romeo and Juliet: Antebellum New Orleans, 1836’ which earned her an NAACP Theatre Award nomination. A 2o’s something Actress, despite the limited exposure was turning heads and showcasing her talents. It wasn’t long before television came calling.
In 2005 Tessa Thompson landed her first job as Jackie Cook on the film noir television series ‘Veronica Mars’- The exposure and the experience was enough for her to became a regular on television. She went on to appear on several shows like Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice, Detroit 1-8-7 and Heroes. Tessa also landed a gig with an electro soul band called Caught A Ghost. She produced, co-wrote and sang for the band for over two years. Soon Tessa Thompson made her feature film debut with ‘When A Stranger Calls’.
Tessa starred in many feature films like ‘Make It Happen’, ‘Mississippi Damned’, ‘Murder On The 13th Floor’ and ‘For Colored Girls’. She also produced and starred in ‘Grantham & Rose’. These films enjoyed varying degrees of success and failures. Despite mixed success there was no denying her talent and it was a matter of time before she hit big. 2014 was the breakout year for Tessa Thompson, when she appeared in the indie classic ‘Dear White People’ for which she won the ‘Breakthrough Actor’ award at the Gotham Independent Film Awards. Tessa Thompson earned a lot of praise for portraying the witty and sharp tongued Sam White, a biracial film production major at the fictional Winchester University, a prestigious and predominantly white school. Justin Chang, in his review for Variety noted Tessa Thompson as “the standout” and claimed Tessa to be the “sharpest and most enigmatic figure” in the film. If that wasn’t enough for the world to notice her, she also featured as Diane Nash in ‘Selma’. Diane Judith Nash is an American civil rights activist, a leader and strategist of the student wing of the Civil Rights Movement. ‘Selma’ won many accolades which included Tessa Thompson’s victory in Variety‘s 10 Actors to Watch at the Hamptons International Film Festival. Tessa Thompson was making headlines in the Independent circuits and with the critics but commercial success was just fingertips away.
Icon In The Making
In 2015, Tessa Thompson joined the cast of ‘Rocky’ Spinoff ‘Creed’ – For many Tessa Thompson’s decision to join the cast of ‘Creed’ seemed weird. After All it’s a boxing film with a lot of testosterone and traditionally women in such genres are nothing but props used to move the narration along. For all intents and purposes Tessa Thompson was the new Adrianna. According to Tessa Thompson the role appealed to her and ‘Bianca’ was born. Credit also goes to Ryan Coogler who wanted Bianca to be much more than just a prop. Tessa Thompson expertly plays Bianca, a singer who ultimately becomes Creed’s love interest. The character is just not a helpless ringside cheerleader but she is strong and ambitious with her own set of goals that she wants to achieve in the limited time allotted to her. Ryan Coogler, I assume is a stickler for authenticity. Not only he wanted this character to be philly by nature but the actor playing her should embrace it and actually be a singer. Tessa Thompson moved to Philadelphia a month before the shoot to get to know what her character’s life would actually be like. She during the time worked on her hair, look and even researched on music venues. Tessa Thompson also got the opportunity to sing three songs in the film which captures the Philly indie music scene to the core. Creed was a major commercial success and Tessa Thompson had arrived and was a force to reckon with.
2014 and 2015 has helped her firmly plant her feet in the industry. Next on the road map is HBO’s Sci-fi drama ‘Westworld’ – She has also joined the cast of Marvel universe and will most likely be playing Valkyrie in the upcoming ‘Thor’ Sequel. She will also appear in a british comedy film called ‘War On Everyone’ ~ Talk about Pop Culture Invasion.
The future is bright for her. She can sing and she can act. Whats next on her agenda? Perhaps Directing? In the end Talent triumphs. Tessa Thompson is a prime example of how hard work, talent and self belief can take you far and help you achieve your dreams.
Tessa Thompson is here to stay and who knows she could someday feature in the Time’s Most Influential people list.