Nessa Holt of Las Vegas
“A well known director wouldn't take the chance on casting me for an American role after he discovered that I was English.” Marsha Thomason
British actress Marsha Thomason is famous among American audiences for playing Nessa Holt in the NBC series “Las Vegas” (2003-2005) and Naomi Dorrit on the J.J. Abrams-created show “Lost” (2007-2008). Making her Hollywood debut in the 2001 movie “Black Night,” with Martin Lawrence, she has since played roles in “Haunted Mansion” (2003, with Eddie Murphy), “My Baby's Daddy” (2004, with Eddie Griffin), “The Tripper” (2006, with David Arquette) and “LA Blues” (2007, with Kevin Rahm). In her native of Britain, the recipient of the 2002 BMF Award for Best Actress in Film is known for playing roles in the series “Playing the Field” (1998), “ Where The Heart Is” (1998-1999) and “Burn It” (2003) and in such TV movies as “Prime Suspect 5: Errors of Judgment” (1996) and “Messiah: The Rapture” (2008). She also had roles in the British movies “Priest” (1994), “Long Time Dead” (2002) and “Pure” (2002).
“I have a house in London and a place in LA and I'm bouncing between the two. It's very nice because I fly first class now and that makes the world of difference.” Marsha Thomason
5' 10” Thomason resides in London and Los Angeles.
Childhood and Family:
Marsha Thomason was born on January 19, 1976, in Manchester, England, to an English father and a Jamaican mother. She was educated at Holy Trinity Primary School in Blackley and North Manchester High School for Girls before enrolling at Oldham Sixth Form College. There she studied for A levels in Media Studies, Theatre Studies and Performing Arts. Marsha earned a B.A in English from the Manchester Metropolitan University.
Marsha Thomason first bit by the acting bug after watching the musical “Bugsy Malone.” Before long, the 12-year-old Manchester girl joined Oldham Theatre Workshop and found herself acting in various plays, including Willy Russell's “Our Day Out” and Aristophones' “Peace.” By age 14, Thomason had made her professional debut starring in “The 8:15 from Manchester” (BBC 1). She went on to make her TV debut in the BBC film “Safe” (1993), which won a BAFTA for Best Single Drama, and her first big screen role arrived later that same year in a bit part as a nurse in Antonia Bird's “Priest,” starring Linus Roache and Tom Wilkinson.
While in college, Thomason landed the role of Janice Lafferty in “Prime Suspect 5: Errors of Judgment,” an Emmy award-winning crime/mystery starring Helen Mirren and directed by Philip Davis, and appeared with Julie Walters and Robert Lindsay in the BBC comedy/drama film “Brazen Hussies” (both 1996). In 1997, she took the recurring role of Sally in eight episodes of the well-liked BBC comedy/drama series “Pie in the Sky,” but did not make her debut as a regular performer until a year later when she was cast as Sharon 'Shazza' Pearce, a beer-drinking, drug-taking soccer player, in the sport-themed series “Playing the Field” (BBC, 1998-2002). The role made her popular among British TV audiences, and she gained further popularity with her portrayal of a nurse named Jacqui Richards on the long-running, but now defunct “Where The Heart Is.” She was on the show from 1998 to 1999.
Thomason played Louise in a 1999 episode of “Love in the 21st Century” and Denie in a 2001 episode of “Table 12.” She also supported Christine Tremarco and Steven Mackintosh in the drama made-for-TV film “Swallow” (2001), playing Tina Harford, and made her London's West End debut as a teen prostitute from New York in “Breath Boom” at the prestigious Royal Court Theatre before hitting American market. She costarred with Martin Lawrence in the adventure/comedy “Black Night” (2001), playing Victoria the Chambermaid/Nicole.
Back to UK, Thomason appeared with Lucas Haas and Alec Newman in the horror/thriller “Long Time Dead” (2002), directed by Marcus Adams, was cast opposite Keira Knightley and Molly Parker in the indie-drama “Pure” (2002) and played the regular role of Tina in the first series of the BBC Three drama “Burn It” (2003). Also in 2003, she made her next Hollywood outing in the Disney comedy “Haunted Mansion,” opposite Eddie Murphy, Terence Stamp and Nathaniel Parker. She portrayed Sara Evers. It was followed by supporting parts in Miramax's “My Baby's Daddy” (2004), starring Eddie Griffin, Anthony Anderson and Bai Ling and helmed by Cheryl Dunye, and the drama “The Nickel Children” (2005).
Thomason's fame in America received significant boost when she won the role of Nessa Holt on the NBC crime/drama series “Las Vegas” in 2003. She remained with the show until 2005. Among her costars in the show were Josh Duhamel, James Lesure, Vanessa Marcil, Molly Sims, James Caan, Nikki Cox and Mitch Longley.
After leaving “Las Vegas,” Thomason acted in the short movies “The Package,” “Tug of War” and “The Fast One” (all 2006), the John Cosgrove-directed comedy “Caffeine” (2006, starred as Rachel), “The Tripper” (2006), a horror film helmed and written by and starring David Arquette, as well as Ian Gurvitz's comedy, “LA Blues” (2007), with Kevin Rahm, William Ragsdale and Dave Foley. She revisited series TV in 2007 when she joined the cast of the ABC adventure “Lost” in the recurring role of Naomi Dorrit. She stayed with the show until March 2008.
Thomason played Mel Palmer in the Brit telepic “Messiah: The Rapture,” aired in January 2008.
Black Filmmaker's Magazine (BMF): Best Actress in Film, 2002