Actress Tessa Thompson discusses what it means for her to be an artist, the Creed films, her friendship with Michael B. Jordan, coming out in the public eye, and how she wishes to “expand the way that a woman like me is perceived” in Hollywood. Read highlights from the convo below, and be sure to check out the full article (with interview by Sabrina Ford and photos by Phylicia J. L. Munn) in BUST magazine’s new Spring 2023 issue, on sale now, or subscribe today for instant digital access.
On how masculinity is presented in the Creed films
“These movies are, of course, very masculine in that they are about dudes fighting, but there’s so much at the heart of the film that is actually unpacking the toxicity of masculinity.”
On her close friendship with co-star Michael B. Jordan
“Over the eight years that we’ve been working on this series of films, there’s a familiarity that has been established, particularly between me and Mike. We have such a shorthand. We both have grown so much since the first time around. With Mike at the helm, it was so exciting to see someone I love so much actualize something that’s been a dream—and then see him do it so well.
On being destined to grow up as an artist
“When I first started thinking around being a creative person in pursuit of a career—watching my parents, and really everyone in my family—I always thought of it as something you just sort of do. My family feels intensely creative. I was raised with the idea that there’s no one way to do that ‘right’ or ‘successfully.'”
On coming out in the public eye
“I hadn’t thought about it as ‘coming out,’ It wasn’t a deliberate effort, but there’s something powerful about seeing some part of yourself reflected in the media. In that way, I think the more that we tell our stories, and the less afraid we are to be honest about who we are and who we love, the more we help other people do the same thing. I’m really lucky in the sense that I grew up inside of a community and inside of a family where it’s not been hard for me to do that. But I acknowledge that for so many people, it is really hard, and that’s not to be taken lightly. If being able to talk authentically about who I am helps other people do the same, then I’m grateful for it.”
On representation, and breaking intersectional barriers in film
“I ask myself a lot, ‘Where have we not been before?’ And that’s not just about Black women, necessarily, it’s thinking around all pockets of folks who maybe haven’t gotten the opportunity to be seen in really varied ways in media and in popular storytelling, and just thinking, “How do we get us there?’ The thing that has become a real aim in the work that I do, in whatever my small contribution is to Hollywood or film iconography—I want to expand the way that a woman like me is perceived.”
Top Photo: Phylicia J. L. Munn @phyliciajphotography, Rodarte Dress and Sweater; Lillian Shalom ring; blazer, bra top, and skirt: Sportmax. Necklaces: Thompson’s own.