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Karla-Simone Spence

9th December 2022

Photographer: Lee Malone

Editor-in-chief: Owen James Vincent

Stylist: Emily Tighe

Hair & Makeup: Joe Pickering-Taylor

Interview: Joe Coburn

Logo Design: Emily Curtis

A big thanks to Georgia and Ellie from Public Eye.

To the readers of ReVamp magazine, we introduce Karla-Simone Spence, the leading actress in ITV’s impactful Georgian drama and adaptation of Sara Collins’ debut novel, ‘The Confessions of Frannie Langton’. We find out a little more about Karla-Simone’s experience from script to performance and the process of her preparation.

First of all, thank you for agreeing to talk with us. It’s an absolute honour! As part of your research for the role of Frannie Langton, were you required to read Sara Collins’ novel, and if so, how did the original version compare with the adaptation?

The pleasure is all mine! I’m just happy to be spreading the word about Frannie! I hadn’t read the book during my audition process, but I bought the book as soon as I knew I had my third and final audition and read it after I booked the role! I was never told to do so, but it’s just what you do when you’re playing a character from an adaptation. I was immediately sucked into Frannie's story and I’m grateful to have had the extra material to bring her to life. With novels you’re able to be more indepth with backstory, there is a whole section about Frannie’s life in ‘Paradise’ the plantation in Jamaica where she grew up before she even came to London, which was very helpful to me. The script for the show was changing all the time and some changes have to be made when you need to fit a story into, in this case 4 episodes. So there are definitely differences, but the emotional journey remains the same.

What was your experience like working with the cast, especially your co-star, Sophie Cookson, who played as Madame Marguerite Benham?

I had a really lovely time working with my cast. My heart melts when I see Frannie and Madame on screen together. Sophie was so easy to work with, generous, kind and I really enjoyed collaborating within the scene and finding those special moments together.

This adaptation is very different from what you’ve ever done before, was there anything from this role that it has taught you, such as realising your versatility as an actress?

This is my first lead role and whilst I really felt ready for it, you never truly know until you do it. And playing Frannie has thankfully reinforced in me that I can do this, that this is where I’m meant to be. This role really taught me that I have a lot of stamina when it comes to emotional scenes. I’ve always been in touch with my emotions, but no matter how many times I kept going on set the well never dried up. I had my stage debut this spring which was very emotionally and physically demanding and what kept me going was knowing that I’d done it before and that I’d be okay by the end of it.  

Let’s get to know you for a moment - what is it that interests you that is unrelated to acting?

I love singing,I’ve always loved to sing and I’m trying to do that more! Growing up I loved martial arts. I used to do tae kwondo for a while, but I didn’t continue. Now I’m trying to get back into it with Muay Thai!

Is there a dream role that you hope to be cast as someday?

Honestly I want to play more fully fleshed out characters like Frannie, who have a journey that affects the audience in some way or another. Aslong as the character speaks to me I’m up for it! I want to do so much and i hope to have an enriched career. I’d love to do my own stunts too, that would be really cool!

And finally, before we go… whilst immersing yourself in the set of Georgian London, did it ever make you think of a decade or period in time that you would like to live in?

I really enjoyed wearing the costumes, the corsets and the transformative sets because they really helped me to delve into Frannie's world. But as a black woman this is the best time for me to be alive. As crap as the world is right now, I wouldn't want to be in any other time period and i’m grateful for all the black woman before me who have paved the way for me to be here and to be able to be talking to you about this incredible lead role!

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