Tessa Lynne Thompson (born October 3, 1983) 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.
Thompson was born in Los Angeles, California, and raised there and in Brooklyn, New York City. Her father, singer/songwriter Marc Anthony Thompson of the musical collective Chocolate Genius, Inc., is of Afro-Panamanian descent and her mother is of Mexican and European descent. She attended Santa Monica High School and then Santa Monica College, where she studied cultural anthropology.
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.
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.
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. 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. In 2016 she had a guest role in three episodes of Westworld.
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. 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. In 2015, she appeared in Ryan Coogler's Rocky spin-off-sequel film Creed. Also in 2015, she appeared in Nate Ruess short film The Grand Romantic. 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. In May 2016, Thompson was revealed to be portraying Valkyrie in Thor: Ragnarok.
Thompson has produced music as part of the electro band Caught A Ghost. The band provided songs for the film Dear White People,