Tessa Thompson: ‘I Acknowledge Many Black Women Look at Me and Don’t Feel Represented and Don’t Feel Seen’

by Shine My Crown Staff
Voiced by Amazon Polly

Tessa Thompson is one of the lead roles in Netflix’s new movie, “Passing.”

Thompson plays Irene Redfield, who is staggered by her close friend’s lifestyle. Irene lives in Harlem with her husband, a Black doctor. Ruth Negga stars as the “passing” Clare Kendry, who is married to Alexander Skarsgård — an openly racist white man. Clare, who lives in a nice part of Manhattan, keeps the truth from her white husband.

The movie is considered to be a profound exploration of racial and gender identity, performance, colorism, and repression.

The movie is proving controversial. The main critique is that neither woman could truly “pass” for being white. Thompson says she would not want to.

“I would argue that if you looked at photographs of women who passed all throughout history, you would look at those women as Black women still,” she says in an interview with InStyle. “I could never pass. But it’s about the ways in which we pass all sorts of things. And Irene, while someone who looks like she’s living very happily as a dutiful Black woman and mother and wife, is not. She’s not content with the confines of domesticity.”

Thompson says she’s committed to “is optioning roles that have not existed before for Black, brown, and queer bodies.”

However, being a light-skinned Black woman, Thompson recognizes that even when stepping into trailblazing roles—there are still many Black women who will not see themselves in the parts she plays.

“I feel really grateful as a Black woman that I get to play a lot of different parts and change the aperture a little bit around what we can be. But I also acknowledge and respect that there are so many Black women who look at me and don’t feel represented and don’t feel seen,” she shares.

The verdict for “Passing” is still out and people continue to debate about its merits on social media. “Passing” is available to stream now on Netflix.

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