We’re officially down to the single-digit day countdown for the release of Shadow and Bone! If you’ve been following along, we have been publishing interviews these past few weeks leading up to the premiere, and today we’ve got a new one with Sujaya Dasgupta who plays Zoya Nazyalensky in Shadow and Bone. Zoya is a powerful Grisha in the Second Army of Ravka who goes on the journey of a lifetime throughout the books of the Grishaverse. As a Squaller, a member of the Etherealki Order of Grisha, Zoya can manipulate air pressure and the wind. She is one of the most powerful Grisha in the Second Army.

Sourcing from the Novels

As one of the few characters who is mentioned or seen in nearly all of the books in the Grishaverse (she is only mentioned in Six of Crows), Sujaya Dasgupta had a lot of material to work from when it came to Zoya. Of course, those who have read the most recently released Rule of Wolves will know that this character has one of the most prolific journeys of any of the characters in the series. I really hope we get to see more seasons of the show, if only so that we can see Zoya during her Rule of Wolves storyline!

Dasgupta spoke about the benefits of being able to pull from the novels while shooting the series. “I think we’re really lucky to have Leigh’s book there at hand. She left us such a fantastic blueprint on which to base these characters, and we’re very lucky to have all of that information as a resource. I certainly kept going back to the books to enhance the knowledge of [Zoya’s] backstory and what’s happened to her, King of Scars as well. [I was] very lucky that that had come out, to know more about my character. So, I felt we’re very privileged to have that and Leigh as well. [She was] just always at hand for support and gave any answers to any questions that we had and really valuable insight all the time. She’s a fantastic lady.”

Sujaya Dasgupta
Credit: Netflix

Traveling Across Ravka

Although it was difficult to discuss some of the major scenes with Zoya, Dasgupta did reveal that Zoya’s journey in the season includes an emotional journey as well. “They do journey to a lot of a lot of different places in Ravka, which was really useful for Zoya because she’s going through such an emotional, tumultuous time,” Dasgupta divulged.

“It’s very much reflected in where they go physically as well. I think it was really interesting and really fun to play with all these different places and scenery and sets,” she added. While we won’t elaborate on to keep from spoiling the show, Zoya is definitely one of the key characters at the center of the action. One who takes a surprising turn as the story progresses.

Hard Outer Shell

It’s no secret that Zoya Nazyalensky has a bit of a tough outer shell. Being powerful and proud, she is the envy of many and it’s safe to say she’s got a lot of social capital at the Little Palace. Book readers know that she goes on quite the journey when it comes to her beliefs and her motivations as the series progresses, and Dasgupta spoke to that. Warning, her response contains mild spoilers for King of Scars in regards to Zoya’s character and background.

Sujaya Dasgupta
Credit: Netflix

“She has a lot of hard edges and a lot of a very hard outer shell. I think she can come across as mean and vindictive, and very, very hard, very, very abrasive. But I think underneath all that you have to pick apart this woman. Who is she? And why is she like this? Oftentimes when you have such a hard exterior, it’s because you’ve had to deal with a lot of things in the past. [She’s] gone through a big old journey, and, for her, she’s already been through a lot,” Dasgupta explained.

“She endured a lot of hardship when she was a child. Her mum tried to marry her off as a child to an older man. She’s only had her aunt as family all these years. So, that’s where I think her vulnerability lies. Because, I think, for all her hardness, she’s incredibly loyal. She’s very loyal to her family, to her aunt. She’s very loyal to the cause, to defending the Grisha and defending her homeland, Ravka. [She’s] very proud of where she comes from, despite having a dual heritage, she knows where she’s from. She knows what her abilities are and I think the kind of arrogance that she displays at times is less to do with her self-righteousness, as it is to do with her confidence. She’s just supremely confident. I think there’s a lot to learn from her, especially for me.” She added, “I’d love to have her there all the time, and I learned a lot from her during this process.”

I can’t wait for the world to see Sujaya Dasgupta’s Zoya along with the rest of the world of Shadow and Bone. I’ll say as a very recent Zoya convert, Dasgupta’s performance lent a lot to me empathizing with a character who often gets shown an unfavorable light in the early novels of the series. Keep an eye on The Beat for more content and keep an eye on Netflix as we get close and close to that release date!

Season 1 of Shadow and Bone will premiere on Netflix on April 23rd, 2021.