You would never know it, but Tessa Thompson is among the many Black women in Hollywood who have had issues in the past with finding makeup artists that can work with their skin tone. "I came into the industry at a time when there wasn't a ton of variety in terms of foundation shades especially," she tells me over a Zoom call. She's cheerful and engaging. Her hair is pulled into a low bun, likely courtesy of her longtime hairstylist Lacy Redway, who, to my delight, is in the next room. Thompson has an ease about her that exudes refinement and cool at the same time. It's something you don't come across terribly often. A person is usually either cool — like Rihanna or Mick Jagger, or elegant — like Diahann Carroll or Grace Kelly. Thompson is both.
It is fitting, then, that Giorgio Armani Beauty would tap the actor as its latest ambassador. Thompson will appear in campaigns for its Luminous Silk Foundation and Lip Power lipstick. Armani lives at the intersection of polish and edginess, and Thompson has been using its products for years. "It's the first brand that I worked with in a professional space," she explains.
She was introduced to the brand's line of foundations early on in her career, and they were one of the few that she found had a match for her skin tone. "I would take little bottles of foundation around in case somebody couldn't find the right color," she says. "For one of my first big red carpets, the artist that I was working with at the time loved the brand and used them exclusively. That red carpet I wore Armani." And it's not just red carpets. Thompson wore Armani makeup for many projects during her career, including her role as Charlotte Hale on Westworld.
"So many characters have been impactful to me and have represented seven years of my life working and telling stories — Armani is a part of that," she says. We spoke to the actor about her makeup journey, her skin- and hair-care routines, and what she's looking forward to in 2022.
ALLURE: Your story about not being able to find a foundation match is so interesting to me. I think a huge misconception about skin of color, is that if you're on the lighter end of the spectrum, you're definitely going to have options. People don't think about undertones, those actually matter.