Karla-Simone Spence on jewels, acting and The Confessions of Frannie Langton

Actor Karla-Simone Spence stands on the edge of stardom with her new lead role in The Confessions of Frannie Langton. Here, she discusses her love of jewellery, spanning Cartier, Tiffany & Co. and Bulgari, and the actors that inspire her

Photography by Mafalda Silva, Story by Joshua Hendren

It is an early afternoon in mid-autumn and Karla-Simone Spence has just wrapped up her shoot for Something About Rocks. A bashful grin on her lips, the star’s supernaturally glowing skin beams in the studio sunlight as she recalls the jewels she’s worn throughout the day.

The 26-year-old actor is one of Britain’s young rising talents. After her award-winning turn in the Paramount film Blue Story, Spence landed the lead role in the buzzy adaptation of The Confessions of Frannie Langton, a four-part period drama which follows a maid and former slave accused of murdering her bosses, set to air on ITVX later this year.

On set today, Spence is all infectious cheer and professionalism as she discusses her most treasured jewellery pieces, the actors that inspire her and how she prepared to take the lead in her biggest role to date.

Karla-Simone Spence jewellery Tiffany
Karla-Simone Spence wears Tiffany & Co earrings and brooch with a Sophie Bille Brahe bracelet in the brooch and Erdem dress

Something About Rocks: It’s great to meet you, Karla. Tell me, do you remember the moment you decided to be an actor? 

Karla-Simone Spence: It was a very cheesy moment. I was about 11 years old at this Church of England school. We got to do a play at the end of the year and we chose Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat. I loved to sing, but I thought “Oh, I’m never going to get Joseph, I’m a girl.” And then, they cast me as Joseph. I had my little durag and sang my little songs that were way too high for me. I’ve even got the footage and when I watch it, I think “That was the moment.” Everyone started clapping, and when I was that age I was really introverted. I am the way I am now because of acting. I was standing on stage thinking “Wow, I actually like this.” But, I never knew acting was a career until I was much older. So, I didn’t pursue acting until I was about 16 or 17.

Karla-Simone Spence jewellery Fabergé and Gemfields
Karla-Simone Spence wears Fabergé x James Ganh featuring Gemfields earrings and Fabergé x Gemfields ring, Dior ring, The Vampire’s Wife dress and Miscreants gloves

Were there any particular actors that inspired you?

So many. The Queen Mother is Viola Davis. I love her so much. I think seeing her act was the first time I saw a Black woman being completely truthful to herself. Her range is so wide, she’s such an incredible actor. My grandmother was a massive fan of Denzel Washington, so I used to always watch his films. I knew I liked what I saw, I just didn’t know it was a job. It didn’t click until much later.

I heard that you wanted to be a lawyer at one point.

Oh my god, yes. I was the brainiac of the family. I used to read so many books as a kid and there was this particular book, I can’t remember the name, but the main character was a lawyer. And it sounded so glamorous. I thought, you know, “I’m argumentative, I could argue a case.” And then I remember meeting my neighbour who was studying law and she said had been studying for 7 years and I was like “Maybe not.”

You’re set to star in ITV’s The Confessions of Frannie Langton – what initially drew you to this production?

The fact that she was a Jamaican woman. I’m from Jamaican heritage as well, so playing a lead role as someone who is where you’re from was insane to me. It being a period drama as well, I’d never done a period piece. It’s the ultimate make-believe. You’re playing someone completely removed from yourself, which I really enjoyed. I’m really drawn to stories where the characters are overcoming something quite difficult. The scope and the character arc Frannie has is just a dream to play.

Karla-Simone Spence
Karla-Simone Spence wears Fabergé x Gemfields ring, Dior ring, Cartier ring, The Vampire’s Wife dress and Miscreants gloves

Was the accent difficult to master?

Yeah, because it’s set in the 1800s. It’s not a Jamaican accent from now or even a posh Jamaican accent. It’s something we haven’t really heard so I worked with a voiceover coach briefly and we tried to pull sounds from that time. I’ve got a Jamaican family so I used them to help me too. I just blended it all together to create her voice.

Moving on to jewellery – what does jewellery mean to you?

I’m a sentimental girl. I pretty much always wear this gold necklace that I got from my great-grandmother before she passed away. And then there are two gold rings attached to that from my grandma after she passed away. So it’s both of them connected.

So, you combined the pieces?

Yeah, I wear it every day. I feel naked without it, to be honest. It makes me feel closer to them. I love gold, I feel like gold is the most complementary to me. But, today, I was trying on all these diamonds and silver and I might have to dip into that as well. They were beautiful. I loved the Cartier pieces and the Bulgari necklace. Every single piece, I was like “Damn. I gotta get my money up. I could get used to this.” I love dainty jewellery for everyday wear but I love a statement piece. Statement necklaces, especially when you’re on a red carpet, are just everything.

Karla-Simone Spence jewellery Gucci, Bulgari and Dior
Karla-Simone Spence wears Gucci earrings, Bulgari necklace, Dior ring and cuff, Cartier bracelet and watch, Christopher Kane dress and Margaux Studios bow

What’s been your most memorable jewellery moment?

I don’t think anything has been more memorable than today. Every single piece I put on was incredible.

What are some of your earliest jewellery memories?

We used to have this jewellery box. It had little golden studs inside with diamonds and silver ones as well. All very dainty things and we’d only ever take it out for special occasions. When it’s like a party or something, we’d get it out and put the pieces on and feel like boujee babes.

Karla-Simone Spence Boucheron and Louis Vuitton jewellery
Karla-Simone Spence wears Boucheron earrings, Sophie Bille Brahe necklace, Bulgari necklace, Louis Vuitton ring, Shrimps dress and Emily London headband

What’s on your jewellery wishlist?

I would love a Cartier Love bracelet. I just think they’re really simple and chic. I love Tiffany too, they make very cute rings and necklaces. Give me all of it.

And finally, what lies ahead in the pipeline?

I’d love to do a film or a limited series. Everything I’ve done recently has been quite serious, but I’d love to do something light-hearted. I also really want to do some crazy stunts. I’ve recently picked up Muay Thai, so I’m ready when the time comes.

Styling by Thea Lewis-Yates, Make up by Michele Dacillo, Hair by Hiroshi Matsushita, Photography Assistant Jomile Kazlauskait and Stylist Assistant Sandra Blazinskaite