Tessa Thompson is fast becoming one of the most compelling actors around. Though she has been in the business for years, her star has risen considerably in recent years thanks to some high-profile roles, most notably as Valkyrie in the MCU. Introduced in Thor: Ragnarok, Valkyrie is a hard-drinking, hard-hitting, badass warrior. Thompson excels in the role and looks to be an important part of the MCU going forward.
While Valkyrie might be her most famous role to date, Thompson has a whole lot of more great performances under her belt, with plenty more sure to come. These roles all showcase how Hollywood is taking notice and why she'll soon be one of its biggest stars. Here are some more of Tessa Thompson's butt-kicking roles.
10 For Colored Girls (Nyla)
Tyler Perry's films are not often met with positive critical reception, but they can sometimes feature stellar performances from his casts. This is certainly true of For Colored Girls, a flawed movie that is somewhat saved by its actors, including Thompson in an early film role.
The film tells a collection of stories about the struggles and tragedies of black women. Thompson stars as a young girl dealing with an unexpected pregnancy. She manages to handle the tough subject matter extremely well, giving a strong performance that hinted at her amazing career to come.
9 Jay-Z's "Moonlight" (Monica)
Even after she became a highly sought-after actor in Hollywood, Thompson starred in several music videos, most notably in this fun and inventive one for Jay-Z's song "Moonlight."
The video is more of a short film built on the premise of recreating the classic Friends episode, "The One Where No One is Ready," with black actors. Thompson is joined by Jarrod Carmichael, Tiffany Hadist, Issa Rae, Lil' Rel Howery, and LaKeith Stanfield in the famous sitcom roles. Though not as significant as some of her other roles, Thompson proves to be a perfect Monica.
8 Veronica Mars (Jackie Cook)
Veronica Mars is one of the most beloved cult television shows in recent memory and it helped launch Kirsten Bell's career. However, you may not remember that it was also one of the earliest roles for Thompson as well.
She plays Jackie Cook, one of the students at Neptune High School who finds herself as part of Veronica's inner circle. She frequently butts heads with Veronica, proving to be one of the few characters who can stand up to her. Though a supporting role, Thompson showed her considerable skill at playing tough characters.
7 War On Everyone (Jackie Hollis)
Thompson has a very strong talent for taking supporting characters and making them one of the most interesting parts of the film. Her presence in a film is always so compelling that it's hard not to want to focus just on her.
In War on Everyone, Thompson plays the love interest to one of the main characters in this comedy-action film about two out-of-control cops. The role doesn’t have much to it, but Thompson has fun with the amusing dialogue and provides one of the few characters you can root for.
6 Annihilation (Josi)
Annihilation only came out last year but already it's being hailed by many as a science-fiction masterpiece. While the complex and difficult film was not for everyone, most everyone can agree that it is a beautiful-looking film with a stellar cast of female stars.
The film follows a government team that is sent to explore a mysterious zone that is gradually growing in size. Thompson plays the team's physicist who explores the zone's bizarre nature. Thompson plays a more reserved character than we've seen from her but she is a big part of helping ground the story with a very natural performance.
5 Selma (Diane Nash)
Martin Luther King Jr. is obviously a fascinating subject to explore in films. He is one of the most important figures of the 20th century and was at the center of some of America’s most significant events in recent memory. Selma explores one of those events: the famous march from Selma, Alabama to Montgomery, Alabama for African-American voting rights in 1965.
Thompson plays Diane Nash, the real-life student head of the Civil Rights movement. Thompson helps bring to life this very important figure who might not always get recognized by history but managed to cause so much change at such a young age.
4 Westworld (Charlotte Hale)
The cast of Westworld just proves that the quality of television these days can draw even the biggest names in Hollywood. The remake of the science-fiction film of the same name, it features the likes of Evan Rachel Wood, Thandie Newton, Anthony Hopkins, and Ed Harris, to name only a few. Thompson, just as her star was on the rise, joined the show as Charlotte Hale.
Hale is seen as a ruthless and cold-blooded corporate overseer of the Westworld park. The role gives Thompson the rare opportunity to play a villain, and she excels at it. Hopefully, we’ll see her take on more sinister roles in the future.
3 Creed (Bianca)
Just a few years ago, the Rocky franchise seemed to be down for the count. Then came young hot-shot filmmaker Ryan Coogler to breathe some new life into the story with Creed. While the idea of making a sequel focusing on Apollo Creed’s son sounded questionable, Coogler delivered a moving, exciting, and excellent entry into the series.
Thompson added a lot of the film’s heart to go with all the punching as Adonis Creed's love interest, Bianca. What could have been a standard girlfriend role is given some depth thanks largely to Thompson's strong performance that draws your attention away from the boxing story.
2 Sorry To Bother You (Detroit)
Sorry to Bother You was one of the most unique films in recent years. From writer-director Boots Riley, the satire follows a young black man as he struggles to make ends meet in his telemarketing job. He finally finds success by adopting a "white voice" for his sales calls.
The movie has endless amounts of funny and insightful things to say about our modern society as well as a few insane twists. Thompson plays the love interest of the main character who struggles with her own attempts to make it as an artist in a world that might not be welcoming to her. It's a testament to her skills that the movie pops with even more life every time she's on screen.
1 Dear White People (Samantha White)
Dear White People was the film that really helped to put Thompson on people's radar. The funny, intense, and thoughtful film follows the lives of several black students at an Ivy League college, dealing with racial stereotypes and perceptions.
While the film is largely an ensemble, Thompson really leads the film as an outspoken and passionate student who is determined to call out the problems with how black students are being treated. It’s a star-making performance that showed how well she can command the audience's attention just by speaking.