Server at Society restaurant
Barista at Crimson Lights Coffee House
Former assistant to Devon Hamilton at LP Streaming
Singer, songwriter, formerly under contract with LP Streaming
Former assistant to Nikki Newman
Former street musician
An efficiency apartment at Rainbow Gardens with Mariah
In a relationship with Mariah Copeland
(mother) no information
(father) no information
Crystal Porter (younger sister)
Noah Newman (lovers 2017)
Mariah Copeland (couple 2018-2019)
Kidnapped Alice Johnson
Theft of Nikki Newman’s gun
Extorted $250,000 from Nikki; charges dismissed with prejudice Newman
Tessa was born and grew up in a rough neighborhood in Chicago, surrounded by gangs and drugs. Her father sold drugs, her mother got hooked, and disappeared for days or weeks at a time. So Tessa pretty much raised her younger sister Crystal. Their father was a mean drunk and Tessa taught Crystal how to avoid him. Before long men began coming around wanting to have their way with Tessa, so she left home and told Crystal she would return for her once she got on her feet. Tessa worked for Zack Stinnett, a guy from the same neighborhood who was trying to find his way out by running a massage parlor/escort service. After Zack threatened her, Tessa left town.
Tessa, working as a street musician, wound up in Genoa City, Wisconsin, playing her guitar and singing outside Crimson Lights Coffee House. The owner, Sharon Newman, took a liking to her, and so did Sharon’s daughter Mariah, and Sharon’s former mother-in-law Nikki. Nikki hired Tessa to teach music to her talented grandson Reed. She also hired Tessa to be her personal assistant, helping Nikki with her latest fund raising gala. Nikki’s son Nick and grandson Noah owned a club, The Underground, and Tessa started appearing there on open mike nights. Nikki even joined Tessa on stage once, and had fun accompanying her on the piano. Tessa Discovering that Tessa was homeless and living in her car, Nikki invited her to move in to the main house at Newman ranch.
Mariah’s boyfriend, music promoter Devon Hamilton, took Mariah to San Francisco for a music festival with back stage passes and all the perks. They invited Tessa and Noah to join them. Tessa and Mariah shared some time alone together, and had an awkward moment when Mariah kissed Tessa. Mariah apologized, but Tessa said she liked it. Mariah was confused when she felt a little jealous of her brother Noah as he and Tessa were getting serious. Mariah tried to ignore her feelings for Tessa until she confessed them to Kevin, who told her she needed to deal with them and talk to Tessa about it. Mariah tried but always seemed to be interrupted. Tessa was giving her mixed signals, insisting Mariah be present as she cut her first single, then moved in with Noah.
Just as Tessa was getting her big break, meeting Devon and being signed to his company, EP Streaming to cut her first recording, she started getting frantic phone calls from Crystal, who had also run away from home and had made it to Genoa City. Crystal turned out to be the same girl that Sharon was helping as she worked a crisis hotline, and the sex ring Sharon’s boyfriend Scott Grainger was investigating to write an expose. Tessa confided to Mariah that the girl was Crystal. They went to Sharon and Scott, put their facts together, and it turned out that Alice Johnson, who had been Mariah’s twin Cassie’s adoptive mother, was taking care of the girls. Dissatisfied that the police were not doing enough, Mariah and Tessa kidnapped Alice and coerced her into getting them to set Crystal free by letting her think that Mariah was Cassie’s ghost. They allowed Alice to leave once Tessa was reunited with Crystal, and the police put Crystal in protective custody. Alice packed and left town, but her boss found out what she had done. Alice was run down by a car, then later disappeared from the hospital. Security footage showed her painfully walking out, headed for the taxi stand.
Devon introduced Tessa to promoter and tour booker Irv West. Tessa was booked to be the opening act on a Midwest tour beginning with bookings in Madison and Milwaukee. Tessa was delighted to hear her single being played. Tessa’s home venue, The Underground, burned to the ground, and Noah’s partner, his father Nick, decided not to rebuild nor to pursue the additional location expansions.
Mariah finally asked Tessa if the kiss meant something to her too, and Tessa responded, “Yes it did. The moment perfect, but it passed.” Tessa said she loved Mariah, but things were too complicated, that Mariah didn’t really know her, and she would not tell her more because she cared, that this was how it had to be.
Noah’s grandfather Victor Newman asked Noah to take over running Top of The Tower, an upscale club on the top floor of Newman Tower. Which is where they were, at a Newman party, when Scott persuaded Crystal to publicly identify Zack Stinnett as the leader of the sex ring, and that his dating app, funded by Newman, was a front. Zack rushed his girlfriend/business partner Abby Newman out the door and fled, leaving Abby and Scott who had followed them, locked in a storage building. They ended up getting out the next day by starting a fire under the sprinkler system which alerted an attendant who let them out. Seeing Zack’s car still there, Scott insisted on going to Zack’s motel room. Zack walked in on them, first begged Abby to run away with him, then accused them of cheating on him. Zack, about to shoot them, was charged by Scott. Zack was shot in the back by Crystal who dropped the gun and ran away. Zack died. The gun turned out to belong to Nikki Newman, and Tessa admitted to Nikki that she had stolen it while living there to protect her sister. Police chief Paul questioned Tessa about the gun, and the whereabouts of her sister, causing Tessa to miss an appearance on the Hilary hour.
While attending a Newman party with Noah, Victor offered Tessa $100,000 to leave town, which Tessa refused.
Devon had be break it to Tessa that she was not making them any money, and she needed another hit. Having writers block, Tessa stole Mariah’s journal looking for inspiration, and she created a song from it. Devon was very pleased with the new song and recorded it. Devon arranged for her to debut it on the Hilary Hour. In the middle of her song, Mariah attacked Tessa on air, calling her a thieving bitch, saying those were her words not Tessa’s. Devon had to drop the song when legal feared a lawsuit and Tessa was dropped from the label. With no paycheck and owing them money, Tessa begged for a job as Devon’s assistant. After Noah found out the whole story about the kiss between his lover and his sister, Tessa was homeless and sleeping at the office. Devon bought GCBuzz from Hilary and Tessa and Mariah had to work together. Devon arranged for Mariah and Tessa to sit down and talk out their feelings, and they became friends again, deciding they might make a good song-writing team. When Mariah realized that Tessa was homeless, she asked Nick to rent Tessa an apartment at Rainbow Gardens.
Kyle Abbott returned to town and began working for Jabot. He noticed the chemistry between Mariah and Tessa, got both to admit they wish they had handled things differently, and set them up. Mariah and Tessa had their first date, a movie on a rooftop where they kissed and held hands. They ran into Hilary, and Mariah awkwardly told her they were on a date. Hilary remarked that she was surprised it took them so long. Mariah and Tessa spent a weekend in the San Francisco, attending a music festival. Mariah saw Tessa hugging another woman, Kimberly, who had found Tessa’s sister Crystal. Tessa told Mariah she had to go be with Crystal, could not keep in touch, but she still wanted Mariah, and promised to return. Mariah tried to go with them, but realized she had a life she could not leave behind. A couple months later Tessa returned, revealing that she'd gotten Crystal to Canada to give her a fresh start with a new job, identity, and place to live. But she needed 20 thousand dollars to pay off the people who had helped her. Tessa hit up Devon, who became suspicious, and refused. Sharon hired Tessa as a barista at Crimson Lights. Tessa was roughed up at Crimson Lights, her arms and back bruised severely. She told Mariah that it was a reminder of the $20,000 she owed.
Tessa agreed to Mariah’s proposal that they live together. Viewers saw Tessa open a gym bag full of money that she needed to hide. Mariah moved in to Tessa’s efficiency apartment, began organizing it, and bought a new mattress for Tessa’s sofa-bed, the old one was thrown in the dumpster. Tessa got very angry as Mariah watched her pull money from the mattress. Mariah later pressured Tessa to reveal that Nikki had paid Tessa $250,000 in hush money, and she had paid off the guys in Canada. Tessa showed Mariah a security video of Victoria’s garage showing Nikki, Sharon, Victoria, and Phyllis loading J.T.’s body rolled up in a rug into Victoria’s SUV the night he had disappeared. Tessa explained that she had found the footage taken by J.T.’s surveillance camera on Nick’s computer after he had hacked the Newman server and gotten J.T.’s files. Nick had asked Tessa to transfer files for him, and she had discovered it. Mariah was devastated that Tessa could do such a thing to Mariah’s mother. She left and confronted Sharon. When Mariah returned for her things, Tessa begged her not to leave. She handed Mariah the flash drive and claimed she had donated the remaining money to charity, but instead hid the money and a copy of the file inside a teddy bear.
The Newman stables burned to the ground, leaving behind a shirt with J.T.s blood on it and a gun traced to Victor. Nikki, Sharon, and Victoria kidnapped Tessa and tried to pin it on her, but believed she was innocent after seeing how scared she was. They left Tessa in the middle of nowhere in the cold. Mariah rescued Tessa, and promised she wouldn’t leave her. Victoria showed up at their apartment and took the teddy bear, returning the money to Nikki. After Nikki confessed to save Victor and the women went on trial, Tessa was called as a witness for the defense. But she testified to the contents of the video and her kidnapping by the trio, also exposing that she had blackmailed them. Mariah, Tessa and Phyllis’ testimony was damning to all of them as Christine took on her old nemesis Phyllis. All three were found guilty and sentenced to prison. Tessa was arrested for extortion and Mariah bailed her out, but after J.T. was discovered to be alive, her charges were dismissed with prejudice, and homicide charges against the women were dropped. Mariah encouraged Tessa to return to writing and singing her music, buying back her guitar from the pawn shop. Tessa was hired on as a server at Society restaurant.
Mariah tried to convince Devon to give Tessa another chance at recording her music. He declined, but his assistant Ana took Tessa on, producing her songs, and trying to teach her some discipline as well as make her over into what Ana thought the public wanted. With Mariah’s encouragement, Tessa became more confident in herself, and eventually stood up to Ana that she was ruining her music by over-producing, and her personal image with wild outfits. Ana gave Tessa an ultimatum, so Tessa told Ana to burn her contract, saying. “That is not who I am.” After the missing Dina was found in Chancellor Park listening to Tessa sing, Jack invited Tessa to sing at Bright Tomorrow’s Home Care Center, and Abby offered Tessa a gig at her and Devon’s new restaurant Society.