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Swansea actress beats 8,000 to Skins role

29 January 11 10:10
Jessica Sula
By Polly March
BBC News

It is the cult teen TV drama which has launched the career of many an amateur actor.

As the latest series of E4's hit series Skins gets underway, one of its newest recruits is hoping the show will work similar wonders for her.

Jessica Sula, 16, from Gorseinon, Swansea, beat 8,000 applicants to land the role of gentle and dreamy Grace Violet.

She told BBC Wales she felt "privileged" to have been selected.

The Bafta award winning drama is re-cast every two years with a new set of teens hell-bent on self-discovery, and often self-destruction, by any means possible.

Past episodes have touched on controversial themes like eating disorders, mental illness and drug abuse, and it appears life for the "third generation" of eight teenagers will be just as tumultuous.

The publicity for the series indicates "they get high, get drunk, get laid and get up in time for college the next day".

But in this series young women will be taking a more prominent role.

Jessica is currently studying for her A-levels in Spanish, French and drama at Gorseinon College and says juggling her work with filming was quite a challenge.

She said she never expected to land a part on the show when she travelled to Bristol to audition after stumbling across an advert online.

She said: "The queue was so long, I queued for about five-and-a-half hours.

"Then we had to do improvisation in small groups in a big room and the executives went round and looked at all the groups and we were given a scenario.

Gruelling "But when the time came for our group to do our improv everybody just talked over me and I only said one word so I wasn't expecting to get anything.

"Then at the end they called out my number and we went back. I was so surprised."

Gruelling auditions

Seven more rounds of gruelling auditions followed until Jessica received the call she had been waiting for.

She loves acting, despite having worked only in youth theatre and school plays before, and has a soft spot for her character.

"Grace is very sweet, naughty and sensible to a certain extent. She's kind but she also has a wild streak and is quite naive, in her own little bubble.

"She is trying to hold her group of friends together but nobody's really holding her together.

"Skins is fantastic for introducing fresh, new talent and I feel privileged to have been chosen."

Although Jessica remains tight-lipped about what Grace might get up to later in the series, it is clear her character will be indulging in some of the same vices as her more debauched pals.

"She's full of elegance and poise but I'm anticipating some sort of twist will happen."

She recalls her most embarrassing filming moment as the time she had to pretend to shoplift in Bristol's Cabot Circus shopping centre.

"I got to shout really loudly at midday when everyone was shopping.

"I had to shout 'peg it' like we were stealing from a clothes shop and policemen chased after me because they thought I was really stealing.

"That was really fun. I nearly got arrested!"

The Skins cast have just returned from their publicity tour, which saw them joining music acts Katy B, The Wombats, Pulled Apart by Horses and Devlin to host a party in each of the central actors' home towns.

Jessica was at the helm for the 20 January event at Monkey Bar in Swansea, and the tour finishes with a party in Oxford on 29 January.

Skins series five is at 10pm on Thursdays on E4.

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