‘It felt like a long time coming’: Karla-Simone Spence on Playing Frannie Langton – Interview
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‘It felt like a long time coming’: Karla-Simone Spence on Playing Frannie Langton – Interview

Olivia Emily chats to the leading actor in ITVX’s new show, The Confessions of Frannie Langton

One of ITVX’s first original dramas, The Confessions of Frannie Langton, recently landed – and we’re loving it. Set in Georgian London (Bridgerton vibes), the series follows Frannie who, born into a life of slavery, has moved from Jamaica to a grand Mayfair mansion to work as a housemaid for celebrated scientist George Benham (Stephen Campbell Moore) and his wife, Madame Marguerite Benham (Sophie Cookson). Olivia Emily sat down with leading lady Karla-Simone Spence to chat all things filming, dream roles, and getting into character.

Interview with Karla-Simone Spence

Karla-Simone Spence photoshoot

Karla-Simone plays the lead in ITVX’s new series, The Confessions of Frannie Langton. Photographer: Lee Malon. Glam: Joe Pickering Taylor. Styling: Emily Tighe.

We love The Confessions of Frannie Langton at C&TH, but can you give our readers an elevator pitch in case anyone is unfamiliar?

It follows the story of Frannie Langton, a young Jamaican woman who was brought over from a plantation to London and given as a gift to work as a maid in the Benham household. The show starts with Frannie being accused of their double murder and she can’t believe that she could be capable of murdering the woman she loves, her mistress Madame.

You play the lead, Frannie – can you tell us about her?

Frannie is an intelligent young woman who has had a traumatic upbringing, but despite this she remains brave and outspoken, she loves deeply and there is so much nuance to her.

How does it feel to be playing the lead?

It was an incredible immersive experience and an absolute honour to bring her to life. I’m so grateful that I was given this opportunity. It felt like a long time coming!

Any quirky ways you get into character?

I have so many different ways! One of them is that I create a playlist for my characters and, when I’m in my trailer, I like to listen to them to get into the zone. For Frannie, one of the songs was ‘History Has Its Eyes on You’ from Hamilton. It truly speaks to Frannie fighting to tell her story!

What is the cast dynamic? Who was your favourite person to work with?

Honestly, the whole cast was really lovely. Everyone else popped in and out throughout the week, but I was the only one staying in Leeds every day for three months, so we didn’t get to spend much time together off set. But I of course had an incredible time with Sophie, my Madame. Patrick was a joy, Steven Macintosh, though my antagonist was also a joy to work with… I could end up listing everyone, because I genuinely enjoyed my scenes with them all!

Karla-Simone Spence photoshoot

Photographer: Lee Malon. Glam: Joe Pickering Taylor. Styling: Emily Tighe.

Are you still in touch with any of your co-stars?

I am! I’m glad I’ve met such wonderful people!

What was it like filming?

Getting the role of Frannie Langton was a dream come true, so being on set and playing this formidable woman felt incredible. I was always up for a challenge, ready to dive into the complexities of her existence. Working with Andrea Harkin, the director, was so easy and collaborative. I trusted in her vision, and that allowed me to feel free to just go for it!

You previously starred in Blue Story – what a cast of amazing actors! What is it like looking back?

It feels like a lifetime ago! I’m glad the film was well received and I still get to do what I love as a job! 

What has been your favourite role to date and why?

The marvellous Miss Frannie Langton, without a shadow of a doubt. She transcends anything I’ve ever done. She is everything I have dreamed of playing whilst growing up – she’s so human and complex, a character you can really sink your teeth into. I’m eternally grateful that Sara created Frannie. I can’t explain why, but I truly feel like it was all meant to be – that Frannie was waiting for me and I was waiting for her.

Which character that you have played in the past do you relate to the most in your own life?

I feel like I relate to all of my characters – there’s always something that I can connect to no matter how big or small. And I think that is what spoke out to me when I read a script. I don’t want to play someone like me – that’s no fun! I want to completely step into someone else’s shoes and create a new human life that I can empathise with.

What demands do you have during rehearsals? 

I’m not a demanding person to be honest! I’m a low maintenance kind of woman, but I do love a nice cup of tea! Milk, two sugars.

Do you get to spend much time at home?

The industry has digitised now and auditions are mostly self tapes, so I am at home a lot when not filming, but I love being at home! Especially in the winter, I hate the cold.

Do you live in the town or the country? Which do you prefer?

I’m a Londoner born and raised. I wouldn’t mind staying in the country for some time off, but not permanently! I like the hustle and bustle of the city.

What’s your interior design style?

I’m a big fan of white: it makes the room feel brighter and clean. And lots of green plants, too.

What qualities do you think have made you successful?

There’s no real formula to success. Sometimes it’s being in the right place at the right time, but for me I’d say my dedication to my craft, remaining humble, going into this career for the right reasons and believing in myself have all helped to get me where i am today.

What’s your relationship with social media like?

I see it as a necessary evil. I’m only on Instagram and I like the idea of staying connected with friends, but it can take its toll on your mental health. I like to take breaks from time to time!

How do you find balance in your personal and work lives?

I’m still trying to work that one out! It’s really hard.

Karla-Simone Spence photoshoot

Photographer: Lee Malon. Glam: Joe Pickering Taylor. Styling: Emily Tighe.

What did you want to be when you were growing up?

I always loved being creative. I used to envision myself singing or performing on stage, but for a little while I wanted to be a lawyer. I never really knew acting was a career, but the moment I did, I ran straight towards it!

If you could give advice to your 15-year-old self, what would it be?

Keep going, you’ve got this, and some people come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime.

How can we all live a little bit better?

Be open minded!

Anything fun in the pipeline – professionally or personally?

The professional pipeline is looking splendid, mwahaha! But, personally, I’m looking forward to enjoying the festivities and entering the New Year happily!

Quick Fire Round

I’m tuning into… The Handmaids Tale

I’m currently reading… Nothing! I’m really struggling to focus on one thing at the moment!

The last thing I watched was… The Peripheral on Prime Video

I’m most looking forward to seeing… Avatar 2 – it’s been a very long wait!

My favourite film of all time… Apocalypto

The singer I always have on repeat… Summer Walker

My ultimate cultural recommendation… The Confessions Of Frannie Langton ;)

My cultural guilty pleasure… I don’t have anything I’m guilty of! I will shamelessly say I love fantasy shows; anything with magic, I am there!

What’s next for me is… Stuffing my face with Christmas dinner!

The Confessions Of Frannie Langton is available to watch on ITVX. Watch the trailer below.

Featured image courtesy of ITV.