(NEW YORK) — Tessa Thompson is proud to portray the first main female agent in the Men In Black franchise: this Friday, she can be seen donning the iconic suit and shades as Agent M in Men in Black: International.

“There’s always been women inside the Men in Black universe. They just have never been at the forefront of any of these stories,” she told Variety at the movie’s New York City premiere Tuesday. “[M]y hope is that we can get to a space inside of Hollywood where it’s not noteworthy that a woman should topline a studio film.”

The actress leads with her Thor: Ragnarok and Avengers: Endgame co-star Chris Hemsworth in the new film — the fourth movie in the franchise that launched in 1997 starring Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones.

Although the final minutes of that film showed Linda Fiorentino’s character became the partner to Smith’s Agent J, she didn’t appear in the sequels.

The significance of Tessa’s role isn’t lost on her. “So many women and men too have asked me what does it mean that a whole generation of of young girls can see themselves in this film and that’s significant,” she says. “I got out of my car and the first person I saw was a little girl in a black suit and said how much the movie meant to her.”

Thompson expanded on the importance diversity plays in MiB: I — and the world.

“It’s important to go into a cinema and to relate to a protagonist that doesn’t look like you,” Thompson says. “I think that’s what movies are designed to do, is to make us more empathetic and compassionate towards the other and we have never needed that more….That’s always what I want to do on film.”

Men In Black: International opens in theaters Friday.

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