For all those consumed under the weight of nightly Netflix decisions, there is only one show that need be on your radar and that’s La Casa de Papel (aka Money Heist). Supremely slick in its delivery and casting, La Casa de Papel, now shooting its third season, serves up a millennial twist on the age-old bank heist. Focused around eight thieves who break into the Royal Mint of Spain in order to pull off the most perfect robbery in Spanish history, La Casa de Papel delivers all the essential cliffhangers of an epic drama, while the script is equally as sharp with truly ingenious one-liners. But what elevates the show in particular, is its casting of one key female protagonist that sits at the heart of the story. Úrsula Corberó, an elfin Spanish actress playing the role of kick-ass femme fatale, Tokyo, is sending the most ripples through the industry.
“When I received the script for the casting, I was extremely surprised because nothing like it has even been done in Spain before. So, I told myself, ‘This is rock’n’roll, I want to be part of this project’,” Úrsula says, sipping coffee on set of our cover shoot at The Bvlgari Hotel Dubai. “The first thing that got me thinking was the name of the character, ‘Tokyo’. I thought it was powerful. And then, later on when reading the script, I realised I had been given the opportunity to play a powerful woman who is full of conflicts. I love revealing a visceral girl that is vulnerable as well.”
Fiorever High Jewellery poncho in white gold with diamonds and pavé-set diamonds, Bvlgari. Dress, Dhs2,500, Laurence & Chico. Prices approximate.
With her uneven bob, razor-sharp fringe, and even sharper repartee, Tokyo is that intoxicating mix of strength, intensity and sensual allure. She oozes attitude. However, while it’s Tokyo’s fierceness that lures the audience in on-screen, it’s off-screen that her impact is really being felt. Having predominantly acted in Spanish TV series for her early years, La Casa de Papel promises to project Úrsula loftily into the limelight. Her star is in the ascendance.
Growing up in Alella, a small town close to Barcelona, Úrsula remembers “summers at my grandparents’. They had a huge house with a pool in the middle of the woods and there was a hedgehog that used to stay in the garden so that we could feed him,” she smiles. Surrounded by “unconditional love”, Úrsula says her parents made her “a person whose ideas are very clear and someone who sees that anything is possible. They never assumed or thought for a minute that my ideas were crazy. I told them I wanted to be an actress at five years old and they said: ‘Well, now we have to see what to do for you to do that.’” She credits her mother as her “source of inspiration” because “she took days off work so that she could take me to castings. She would have done anything on earth and beyond for me to be able to do what I wanted to do and to enjoy it,” Úrsula recalls.
Fiorever High Jewellery necklace in pink gold with rubellites, pink tourmalines, amethysts, diamonds and and pavé-set diamonds; Fiorever High Jewellery ring in pink gold with rubellite, tourmaline, amethyst, diamond and pavé-set diamonds, all Bvlgari. Coat, Dhs18,900; blouse, Dhs7,600; trousers, Dhs 5,500; scarf, Dhs800, all Valentino.
Beginning her career through the oft-conventional route of starring in children’s fashion campaigns, in Barcelona, Úrsula says her mother didn’t know how to navigate the complex and brutally competitive world of castings. “The queues at the castings were endless, and for the first two years I went to them without ever being hired,” she remembers. But finally, someone saw potential in Úrsula’s eyes and she was hired for a commercial, which in turn led to opportunities, finally landing Úrsula a part in her first national TV series, Fisica o Quimica.
And so, to today, where the 29-year-old actress brings her infectious energy to Dubai. Heading into filming season three of La Casa de Papel, Úrsula is on somebody else’s clock on this trip. Testament to the success of both the TV show and Úrsula’s burgeoning star power, she is here to be announced as the new face of Roman jeweller Bvlgari’s Fiorever campaign. Úrsula’s in good company in her new ambassadorial position, following in the footsteps of Lily Aldridge, Bella Hadid and Rachel Weisz who have all fronted campaigns for the jewellery house. Acclaimed photographer Mario Sorrenti photographed the Fiorever campaign, and allowed Úrsula to truly be herself, she says of the shoot, in order to fully explore the different facets of her personality and a connection to the jewellery. Fashion and the art of accessorising is important to Úrsula, a tool of expression, she says. “I like to think about fashion as a game, not an obligation,” she explains. “What I like most is to share my personality through each garment and accessory.”
Fiorever High Jewellery necklace in white gold with diamonds and pavé-set diamonds; Fiorever High Jewellery earrings in white gold with aquamarines, sapphires, diamonds and pavé- set diamonds, all Bvlgari. Dress, Dhs36,333, Oscar de la Renta.
Those who are as much a slave to La Casa de Papel as me will understand the impact of Úrsula’s hair when she arrives for our shoot. Gone is the razor-sharp bob and choppy fringe that feels so intrinsic to Tokyo’s dynamic persona, replaced with an elfin cut that highlights the beauty in Úrsula’s face. Does she feel tied to certain looks when they’re so interlinked with the characters she plays? For Úrsula, the change is simply part of the course. “I believe changing your look has close ties to my job. To play a different role makes me so happy, and through fashion I get the opportunity to convey different things.” Citing Teresa Helbig, Olivier Rousteing and Karl Lagerfeld – “for their passion and personalities” – as designers she relies upon, Úrsula says her approach to fashion is driven by mood. Her default is comfort-first, whilst mixing casual outfits with sophisticated accessories. “I’m a huge bag lover and sunglasses, too,” she muses. “Throughout the years I’ve developed a friendship with sneakers, and for formal events I feel the same way – if I’m wearing a formal dress, I like to style it with frumpy, dowdy accessories.” An intriguing juxtaposition that seems to perfectly encapsulate Úrsula. Beauty contrasting against rawness, elegance complimenting simplicity.
I pose Úrsula an age-old question – does she feel pressure to look a certain way in her industry? – as I’m interested in Úrsula’s take on it, as someone who is both relatively new to the field and someone with just the right hint of laissez-faire attitude not to care. “I guess, yes,” she considers, “especially for women, but I try not to think about it. I believe that the most important thing when you’re in front of the camera or attending an event is to be true to yourself, and to stay loyal to what you like. We will never be able to please everyone – that doesn’t make sense. It’s something I’ve learned well.”
To read the full interview, pick up a copy of Harper's BAZAAR Arabia's January 2019 issue.
Fiorever High Jewellery necklace in white gold with diamonds and pavé-set diamonds; Fiorever High Jewellery long necklace in white gold with diamond and pavé-set diamonds; Fiorever cuff earring in white gold with diamonds and pavè-set diamonds; Fiorever High Jewellery ring in white gold with emerald and diamonds, all Bvlgari. Jacket, Dhs7,600, Nour Hammour. T-shirt, Dhs270, Elie Tahari at Bloomingdale’s - Dubai. Trousers, Dhs1,100, In the Mood for Love at Bloomingdale’s - Dubai.
Jewellery: Bvlgari Fiorever High Jewellery
Photographer: Greg Swales
Styling: Anna Castan
Hair: Diego Miranda
Make-up: Toni Malt at Things by People
Manicurist: Miriam Cavalli at Toni Malt Academy
Photographer's Assistant: Mark Offemaria
Stylist’s Assistant: Charlotte Henderson
Art Direction: Jolie Wernette-Horn
Production: Laura Prior
Runner: Ronaldo Mendoza
From the January 2019 issue of Harper's BAZAAR Arabia.