“I wanted to make Passing because of this idea of what gets to be canon. No one ever handed me Nella Larsen’s work. I didn’t know it existed, and that felt astounding to me. Making this felt like an attempt to sort of canonize someone that should have been.”
-Tessa Thompson, episode 258 of Talk Easy with Sam Fragoso
This week we’re joined by actor and producer Tessa Thompson! To begin, we talk about Thompson’s entry point into her new film Passing (7:56), a pivotal scene starring Bill Camp (11:08), the groundbreaking work of writers Nella Larsen (13:05) and Zora Neale Hurston (15:33), and how moviemaking keeps Tessa connected to something greater (19:37).
On the back half, she shares her earliest inclinations toward acting (22:20) and activism (26:43), growing up in Los Angeles to creative parents (24:17), reckoning with her own ambition (30:19), how she learned to take up space in Hollywood (31:10), why she recently launched her own production company, Viva Maude (33:31), and what her success would’ve meant to her late grandmother (38:58).
To submit a question, comment, or reflection for our mailbag episode, write us at email@example.com.
- See Tessa’s performance in Passing on Netflix.
- Follow Tessa on Instagram and Twitter.
- Follow her production company Viva Maude.
- For more, hear our past conversations with Steven Soderbergh, Alana Haim, Janelle Monáe, Lorde, Janaya Future Khan, Toyin Ojih Odutola, Matthew McConaughey, Colman Domingo, and Brittany Packnett Cunningham.
- Order your Talk Easy mug in cream and navy or our vinyl record with Fran Lebowitz.
Illustrations by: Krishna Shenoi.