Carmen Thompson (Diitiidaht/Kyuquot/Coast Salish) has been designing and building costumes for theatre, television, music videos and feature films for more than 15 years. Her attention to detail and commitment to cultural authenticity has made her an in-demand member of creative teams in Los Angeles, Vancouver and Victoria.

Carmen’s father, the late Art Thompson (Diitidaht/Coast Salish), was a renowned First Nations carver and painter and he inspired her to combine both her cultural background and technical training in her work. Her mother, the late Cathy Leo (Kyuquot), raised Carmen to pursue a career in the arts, which started with acting at the age of 13 in feature films and television in Vancouver.

Career highlights include serving as the costume designer for Jamie Foxx’s Intuition Tour and the BET Award Show honouring Michael Jackson; costuming the Haida and Coast Salish cast for a Murdoch Mysteries episode; recreating costumes for the Teen Choice Awards and VH1 Rock Honors-The Who; and designing Polynesian costumes for host Duane “The Rock” Johnson and 24 dancers for the Kids Choice Awards. Recently, she has worked on the award winning feature film, Red Snow and the upcoming feature film, Monkey Beach. She has moved into theatre with God’s Lake and opera with the show, Missing.

Carmen was the Costume Designer for the international TV series, 1491: The Untold Story of the Americas Before Columbus, which involved designing more than 150 historic costumes representing different Indigenous nations such as Amazonian, Anishnaabe, Inuit, Aztec, Maya, Blackfoot, Cahokia, Cree, Inca, Iroquois, Kwaguilth, Nuuchahnulth and Pueblo.

Carmen was given the Nuu-chah-nulth name “Tl’aakwaa” from her Uncle Ron Hamilton/Ki-ke-in, means copper and it is particularly appropriate for an artist whose works are luminous, brilliant and culturally centred.

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