The Los Angeles-born Selma actress plays singer/songwriter Bianca, a love interest for Michael B. Jordan's titular character Adonis Creed, and she reveals she modelled her speaking voice on that of Jill, who hails from the City of Brotherly Love.

"There were tons of artists that I looked to," she tells "I'm playing a Philly girl, so Jill Scott was a reference point. People told me my speaking voice reminded them of Jill Scott. That was a big compliment, because that was someone I looked at to figure out the Philly accent."

The soul star wasn't the only musician Tessa drew inspiration from for the part.

She continues, "Sonically, artists like FKA Twigs, Kelela, Pink, and Aaliyah were reference points. Obviously, the music (in the film) is electronic based, so artists like Grimes were really inspirational. The idea of self-produced artists that create music in their living room - which Bianca is - were women that I looked to."

Tessa, who is also a member of indie band Caught A Ghost, was heavily involved in penning the songs for her character and she reveals her musical talent was key to her landing the role with Creed writer/director Ryan Coogler.

"I wrote the songs that I performed in the movie with the brilliant composer Ludwig Goransson," she says. "He is an incredible composer. He did stuff for (TV comedy) Community, and he produced the (actor/rapper) Childish Gambino records.

"We spent about two weeks together in the studio in L.A., and we wrote those songs. It was really important to Ryan. He loves authenticity, so it was important for him that whoever played Bianca was also writing the music."

Tessa admits teaming up with Ryan is a dream come true after actively pursuing the chance to work with him following the 2013 release of his real-life crime drama Fruitvale Station, which also starred Michael B. Jordan.

"When I heard he was doing this movie called Creed, I didn't even know what it was," she laughs. "I didn't know if there was anything in it for me, but I called my manager and said, 'Ryan Coogler is making a movie called Creed, and I want to be in it.' Then we found out it was something in it for me. I was so excited when I got the call and asked if I would do a chemistry read with Mike...

"Ryan is just so cool. There are a lot of things in the movie that are actually improvisation. He is very collaborative. He takes the best idea. It doesn't matter where it came from. I think that's something that's very rare to find."