Tessa Thompson is promoting both Westworld and Thor: Go Four It, and I think she’s a slam-dunk cover choice: smart, thoughtful, will give you plenty of good quotes. But she’s also extremely experimental with her wardrobe, and I think that could have lent itself to an equally experimental and high-fashion shoot here, rather than just the usual “here is as much of this woman’s legs as we can show you, and for good measure, we’ll have her ladyspread a bunch.” The profile is the kind of read where you can imagine yourself at that cafe table with them, having a really thoughtful afternoon in a wide-ranging conversation. I couldn’t decide what to pull, but I went with this, as she discusses her upcoming self-produced projects:

Thompson’s interest in telling different kinds of stories is not to be mistaken for the rote sort of slogans for representation so often bandied about these days. Conversations about diversity very rarely consider “diversity of idea, thought, or presentation,” she says. “And for me, it’s not enough that we get to exist in frames.”

I bring up one frequent critique, the sense that “Black movies” are seen as a genre unto themselves and taken seriously only as vehicles for narratives of struggle and triumph. And yet, says Thompson, what about that indelible wide shot in 12 Years a Slave? Instantly, I know the one. In the scene, Solomon Northup, played by Chiwetel Ejiofor, is halfway lynched, panting and heaving. Director Steve McQueen keeps our view broad, leaving Northup in the middle of the frame while the unrelenting work of the plantation continues in the background. “You see the whole plantation just operating as if a human isn’t hanging from the tree,” Thompson says, “which is what America has done to us for so long.”


[Photos: Collier Schorr; the August issue of Harper’s Bazaar is on sale July 26]