You might remember Tessa Thompson from her supporting role in 2014’s Selma, or from the Sundance fave Dear White People. But the 32-year-old actress is about to become much more recognizable thanks to her soulful turn as Bianca, an R&B singer who falls for Michael B. Jordan’s tortured fighter in Creed, out Wednesday, Nov. 25.
When we caught with Thompson for InStyle's December issue, she opened up about that buzzy new role, her ultimate style icon, and the covetable new bob that she just got. Scroll down to learn a few more surprising things about the star as she is breaking big.
1. Glenn Close is one of her style icons.
“I’ve been falling down a rabbit hole recently looking at images of Glenn Close from the late '80s and early '90s,” says Thompson. "When she would go on late night TV shows, her fashion was fantastic. She would wear her short hair completely slicked back with an oversize blazer. She was sexy and her femininity wasn’t beholden to her hair length."
2. She’s an amazing singer and songwriter.
Though she has previously performed with the band, Caught A Ghost, her most recent musical project was with the movie Creed. “I play a singer and it was very important to Creed’s director Ryan Coogler that whoever got this part could also write music,” she says. “Sometimes we spent up to 15 hours a day working on songs for the movie.” Check out the three that made the cut on the movie’s soundtrack (available now on iTunes).
3. When she commits to a role, she goes all in.
For Creed, that meant moving to Philadelphia a month before they starting shooting to get to know what her character’s life would actually be like. “I would spend a lot of time going to the music venues, and hair and nail salons. Then I would take sneaky voice memos to get a sense of their vernacular," she says.
4. That chic new bob? It has changed her fashion outlook, too.
After lopping off more than six inches of her a few months ago, Thompson says it’s been a game changer. “It makes me feel different,” says the actress. “When I’m trying on clothes now, certain pieces just make more sense to me because of the way my hair looks. I’m gravitating towards things that have strength and sophistication."
5. She’s a major jewelry lover.
“I’m really into New York-based designer Bliss Lau right now,” she told us. “She was really ahead of the curve with the body chain trend. And I love the beautiful stackable rings that she makes."
7. She only recently started working with a stylist.
“The idea of hiring someone to tell me what to wear always seemed odd because I love getting dressed,” says Thompson, who is now working with stylists Wayman and Micah. “I still love playing dress up, but I realized it’s fun to have people who like to do it with you. They are inspiring me to be more daring with color, prints and different types of fabric.”