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 and over 50 credits to her name. Known for her research & attention to detail with a commitment to cultural authenticity has made her an in-demand member of creative teams in Los Angeles, Vancouver and Victoria.
She has garnered a Leo Nomination for “Best Costume Design in a Motion Picture” for Marie Clement’s Red Snow (2019), and “Best Costume Design in a Short Drama” for her work on Matthew Belcha’s Super Bingo (2018).
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 Lead Costume Builder for the 2009 BET Award Show honouring Michael Jackson; designing & building the costumes for the Haida and Coast Salish cast for a Murdoch Mysteries episode; Lead Costume Builder for the 2009 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 Costume Designed the award winning feature film, Red Snow and the recently released award-winning film, Monkey Beach. She has moved into theatre with Inheritance, God’s Lake and the opera, 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.
With over 20+ years of onset experience, Carmen is now making the move to producing, writing and directing Indigenous short films and docu-dramas. In 2020, she is an Associate Producer and Costume Designer for the short film Kiri and the Dead Girl, featuring actress Grace Dove (The Revenant) in her directorial debut.
Her next project (currently in development) will be as a producer and drama scene director on Forbidden Music, a historical docu-drama feature about a Jewish holocaust survivor who recorded the music of First Nations knowledge keepers in Canada in the 1940s.
Carmen has taken up the helm of Creative Director for Indigenomics Institute and Acimow Media.
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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