After leaving school at 16, Tessa applied for a job advertised in a job centre for a set runner in a production company. Two years later she attended the New York Film Academy making her first short film Barbara Ann and Travis. On her return to New Zealand she set up her own production company at aged 22, where she wrote and directed another two short films, The Collector and Group Therapy. Both films screened in competition internationally including Clermont Ferrand and the British Short Film Festival.
Tessa was the youngest director to helm the iconic New Zealand serial drama Shortland Street, Directing over 30 episodes of the multi camera serial drama.
A move to the UK brought opportunities to direct serial drama and children's drama.
BAFTA nominated for Series two of Rockets Island and Nominated for Scene of the Year 2018 British Soap Awards .
Self funded short documentary Siete Dias, filmed in Cuba had numerous international screenings and self-funded short film Spinosaurus had an exceptional festival run. The multi award winning short film was been bought by HBO and screened on British Airways in flight programme.
Her latest short film 'Majority', had its World Premiere at Krakow SFF 2020 and was in competition at BFI London Film Festival. Majority was broadcast on BBC iplayer in the Comedy Shorts selection and has continued a successful festival run including BEST DRAMA at CloseUp Reykavik Film Festival in 2022.
Tessa's feature film 'SALVAGE' is in development with Sixteen Films and BFI with producer Jack Thomas-OBrien.
Tessa's television work includes the Emmy nominated Youth and Consequences, the critically acclaimed Wayne, produced by the writers of Deadpool. In 2022 Tessa was Emmy nominated for Outstanding Direction for Netflix drama, Zero Chill and directed 4 episodes of the multi award winning Irish crime drama KIN for AMC, starring Ciaran Hinds, Aiden Gillen and Charlie Cox.
In 2022 Tessa directed CROSSFIRE, for BBC1. A popular and successful mini series, starring Keeley Hawes and Lee Ingleby, produced by Dancing Ledge. Crossfire is currently on BBC iplayer and Britbox.