‘Vampire Academy’: Jonetta Kaiser Talks Her Character Sonya Karp and How the Revamped Series Fits a Modern Era

The era of vampires is returning with the Peacock series Vampire Academy. The series is led by Julie Plec and Marguerite MacIntyre and adds a modern twist to the infamous YA books and 2014 movie. Actor Jonetta Kaiser joins Vampire Academy as Sonya Karp, an outcast and somewhat mysterious with the ability to use Spirit. In an interview with Showbiz Cheatsheet, Kaiser breaks down her character and why the series will succeed.

Jonetta Kaiser as Sonya Karp in 'Vampire Academy' series.
Jonetta Kaiser as Sonya Karp in ‘Vampire Academy’ series | Jose Haro via Peacock

Fans will get to see Sonya Karp’s full story and love interest in ‘Vampire Academy’

Unlike the book series, the 2014 movie did not fully flesh out Sonya’s story. She was a peculiar teacher at St. Vladimir Academy who was rumored to have willingly turned Strigoi. Like Lissa, she also had the unique ability to use Spirit. But Kaiser explains her character will get a more extensive story similar to the books and one fans can relate to.

“So what I can tell you, there’s a lot I can’t tell you. But what I can tell you is that Sonya Karp is a librarian at St Vladimir’s Academy. She is the sister of Mia Karp and the daughter of Victor Dashkov. And he adopted both of us. I have a love interest, Mikael, which you’ll see that play out,” explained Jonetta Kaiser about her Vampire Academy character.

But the actor explains Karp is like a fly on the wall who does not conform to the vampire world she lives in. “She doesn’t really care about the hierarchy of it all, like the king or queen and all of those things going on. She’s really on the outside, and she pays attention to a lot of things. So she notices a lot of things going around that everyone else that is maybe, relative to today, like in their phones, 24/7,” explains the actor.

Kaiser cannot give too much away about what events will take place in Vampire Academy. But between the vampire drama and her finding love, the actor reveals fans will get to see Sonya come out of her shell.

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With strong female leads, LGBTQ romance, and diversity, Jonetta Kaiser says its the perfect time for ‘Vampire Academy’

Adaptations of popular YA books can be a hit or miss. Fans saw how Julie Plec’s decision to change the blonde book Elena to Nina Dobrev caused an uproar but ultimately became the best decision ever made. From photos and trailers, Vampire Academy is changing the book characters to be more inclusive and focused on talent rather than an exact copy. A key example is Kaiser herself. Karp is a white, blue-eyed, and brown-haired character in the books.

“We come so far past the point where we’re watching a project, and everyone in that project is just one color, like let’s diversify it. Whether it’s a black show, even BET incorporates white people into their shows. It should be the same the other way, you know, there’s no show that should be ‘Oh, it’s a white show. Oh, it’s a black show,'” explained Kaiser about Vampire Academy’s cast. “But outside of that, especially in a fantasy world like ours, there are no rules.”

The actor explains Plec and MacIntyre did not have time to get into the nitty-gritty of how they would change the characters before starting casting and production. “They cast who was the best person who had the essence the most for every single character. And that’s what’s so great because the whole thing for an actor is you feel the character, you become the character,” explained Kaiser.

Its been almost 15 years since the publication of the book series. Kaiser explains it is the right time to re-animate the beloved story. “If we can get our audience to relate to our characters because we’re actually bringing things to the screen that they can look at be like, ‘oh my gosh, I get that. I understand that’ then yeah I think it is right time,” said the actor.

RELATED: ‘Vampire Academy’ Premiere Date on Peacock in September 2022

Is Jonetta Kaiser ‘Team Damon’ or ‘Team Stefan’?

Vampire Academy is bringing back fond memories for fans who grew up in the vampire era of TV. Kaiser is no stranger to the craze as she grew up reading the Vampire Academy and watching Vampire Diaries and Twilight. It was only after booking the role of Sonya Karp did Kaiser realize the series was based on the popular YA books and helmed by Julie Plec.

“Instantly, I went and watched the movie. I loved it. I loved it. Like, 13-year-old me was just crying and laughing with joy,” said the actor. Doing the table read with Plec, and MacIntyre felt “surreal.” Getting into what fans really want to know – is Kaiser Team Damon or Team Stefan?

“Oh, my God, you know what? Young me was Team Damon. But older me is Team Stefan,” said Kaiser. Continuing the line of questioning, Kaiser also revealed she was Team Jacob. “Oh, a sucker for a little heartthrob. I think Team Jacob.”

The actor explains everyone wants the mystery and intrigue of a troubled man. But she admits the series does have some troubled relationships and romance that will be riveting to watch. “While I love a good romantic drama and a rom-com, let’s add some tension with that, some friction in there. That’s what makes the story interesting. Also, people dying in a story. It’s tragic, but that’s the Shakespeare of it all. It’s the love and the death.”

Vampire Academy will stream on Peacock on Sept. 15.

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