For Tessa Thompson, talent runs in the family.
The Thor: Love and Thunder actress was born on Oct. 3, 1983, to parents Maciallah “Maria” and Marc Anthony Thompson, both of whom are creatively inclined. On top of that, she has two younger siblings on her father’s side, who are also in the industry. Her sister, Zsela, is a singer, and her brother, Jody Thompson, is a production assistant. (In fact, he worked with the star on the set of Creed III.)
Early in her childhood, her parents split. Afterward, Tessa primarily lived in Los Angeles with her mother and older sister, but spent the summers in New York with her father. Growing up, she dealt with racism and bullying due to her heritage – her mother is half-Mexican and half-white, while her father is Afro-Panamanian.
“I had a lot of conflicted and confusing feelings around race,” she told USA Today about her biracial upbringing. “From a very young age, I had this real sense … that proximity to whiteness just meant that you had more opportunity. I feel grateful that’s something that we talk about now.”
When it comes to race, she’s also grateful for her mom. “She always gave me space to explore my identity; get in touch with who I am,” Tessa said at the 11th annual ESSENCE Black Women in Hollywood Awards. “She understood the void of not having enough guidance, in that. Even though she is not a Black woman, throughout my life, she filled me with such pride of being one.”
Tessa has also praised her parents for their unconditional love and acceptance. In a 2018 cover story for Net-a-Porter, the actress came out as bisexual and spoke about having a supportive household. “I can take things for granted because of my family – it’s so free and you can be anything that you want to be. I’m attracted to men and also to women. If I bring a woman home, [or] a man, we don’t even have to have the discussion.”
So, who are Tessa Thompson’s parents? Here’s everything to know about Maria and Marc Anthony Thompson and their relationship with the actress.
Her dad is a musician
Tessa’s father is a multi-talented entertainer. The Panama-born musician is a singer, songwriter, and composer who’s been in the industry for over three decades. In the 90s, he started the musical collective, Chocolate Genius, Inc., and has worked on the soundtracks for several TV shows and movies, including Everyday People and Invisible Beauty.
Most recently, though, he ventured into theater with his 2023 debut play, The N* Lovers.
Her mom is an artist
Although she stays out of the spotlight, Tessa’s mother is equally creative. Maria is an administrative assistant and artist who focuses on painting and pottery. She also enjoys gifting her work to her daughter.
“My mom recently gave me a gift for my birthday that made me weep. It was this really beautiful ceramic vase that she hand-made,” Tessa told The Hollywood Reporter. She went on to explain that the vase was inspired by the moon and duality. “I really love the moon, so I think a gift like that feels so intertwined, an expression of someone saying ‘I know you, I see you,’ those are the gifts that really matter to me.”
“I feel really lucky in the sense that my family loves to give gifts that are homemade,” she shared, before adding that her father is also talented in the artistic department. “My dad does woodworking. He’ll typically make me something really beautiful and thoughtful.”
However, she didn’t inherit their skills. “I’m not crafty,” she told the publication. “I went with my mom to pottery, and I was not good!” she said, adding, “It really made me realize how impatient I was.”
They split when she was 3
Tessa’s parents separated when the actress was only 3 years old. Following their split, Tessa and her older sister remained in L.A. with their mom. In an interview with Marie Claire, she shared that they grew up in “teeny little apartments” in central Hollywood and Santa Monica.
“My mom raised me and my sister. My dad was in my life, but he wasn’t my primary parent growing up,” she told Vanity Fair.
She grew up in Los Angeles and New York
When Tessa was 7, her father moved to New York, so the actress split her time between the two coasts, spending the summers with her dad in Brooklyn. And although she lives in L.A., she frequently travels to New York. “It suits my personality better than the isolation of Los Angeles,” she told Harpar’s Bazaar. “There’s that kind of serendipity.”
Eventually, her dad got remarried to photographer Kate Sterlin, and the pair had two children together. Their daughter, Zsela Thompson, is a singer and songwriter, and their son, Jody Rome Thompson, is also pursuing a career in the entertainment industry. Jody is an actor, model, and singer.
He’s also a production assistant who worked with Tessa on the movie Creed III. In a behind-the-scenes clip, Tessa surprised him with flowers. “It was really incredible to have you there as my family and also to see you do such an incredible job,” she told him.
Tessa has an especially close relationship with her mom
The Marvel star and her mom share an especially close bond. In April 2023, the two sat down for a joint interview with Harper’s Bazaar, where they opened up about their relationship. “Obviously we’re mother and daughter, but we’re also women with lives outside of each other and experiences the other person doesn’t know about,” Tessa said. “We’re choosing to be friends and to share those experiences. Our relationship really deepened when we acknowledged that.”
She went on to talk about how much she admires her mom. “She is unafraid to learn something new simply because she might like it. She has patience and doesn’t feel like she has to be good at it immediately,” she said. “I’m working on being more like her in that respect. I have a ways to go.”
Following the interview, Tessa shared a video of the photoshoot on Instagram writing, “Big Fan! Love you, Momma. This was a special day, but every day with you is.”
Her dad helped kick-start her acting career
Although Tessa never thought she would have a career in Hollywood, she was always interested in acting, something that her dad helped inspire. Speaking to PEOPLE, she explained that in her childhood, she would “write and direct these little movies with my father, so it was something that was always in me.”
On top of that, she had her first on-screen appearance — and her first kiss — thanks to her dad.
“I wasn’t a child actor, but my dad had a friend who was a casting director, and they [cast me for a] music video,” she told W Magazine.
She went on to explain that in the music video, she kissed a boy named Floyd. “So, my first kiss was technically on set, and then I wasn’t on set again for over a decade after that. But that was my first kiss. It’s on camera. It’s immortalized for life,” she said. “I remember that day feeling very adult, so it didn’t scare me. I felt like I was born for this.”