Meet Strike Back Season 6’s new addition Yasemin Kay Allen

Yasemin Kay Allen portrays Katrina Zarkova in Strike Back season 6. Photo Credit: Hal Shinnie/Courtesy of Cinemax.
Yasemin Kay Allen portrays Katrina Zarkova in Strike Back season 6. Photo Credit: Hal Shinnie/Courtesy of Cinemax. /

Strike Back Season 6 introduced Yasemin Kay Allen as devious Russian agent Katrina Zarkova. Meet Strike Back’s new weapon in this interview.

Yasemin Kay Allen has shaken up Strike Back, and she’s not done yet. The Cinemax series brought Allen in as Katrina Zarkova, the Russian operative who allied herself with Section 20—or not.

At the end of the last episode, fans saw Zarkova make a phone call back to Russia, where she reaffirmed her loyalty to her superior officer. It looks like she’s just using Section 20 until she can accomplish her own mission, so when will she stab them in the back? Or will her opinion change again as the season goes on?

One thing TV fans know for sure is that Allen has been an excellent addition to the series. She has played Zarkova in such a way that she’s not your typical double agent, and audiences actually are interested in her story. But what does she think of her character?

Get to know Yasemin Kay Allen and hear her perspective on Katrina Zarkova in our interview, then don’t miss an all-new episode of Strike Back on Cinemax tonight at 10 p.m.!

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Hidden Remote: Zarkova is a hard character to figure out. What was your first impression of her?

Yasemin Kay Allen: You can’t really tell her intentions at first. I wasn’t really sure how to read the character, and that mystery around it was what I really liked about her, actually. That it was open to interpretation.

And her sense of identity and belonging—even though she’s very much a nationalist and loves her country, you could tell there’s room to work with it. Is she as black and white as she seems? And that made me want to explore, made me interested in working on the character.

HR: Did you have to adjust to the physical demands of Strike Back?

YKA: Yes. Between the casting and when I got shipped off to Malaysia, there were only a few weeks. I had two or three weeks to prepare and I had to learn a lot on the job. [I’m] surrounded by complete professionals who have been at this for years; they got the best people in to work on this job.

It is so action-packed and it is a TV series, so you’re working on TV series timelines. You have to shoot ten episodes—that’s five movies worth of footage—in six months and this includes really, really complicated action scenes that require a lot of choreography to be learned and a lot of safety concerns that need to be taken into account.

It was a huge learning experience, but a lot of fun and basically why I wanted to do this job. Why I wanted to be an actor is to learn to be a completely new person, someone who I never would have been. I’m not that kind of woman. I’m not military, I’m not particularly athletic. I’ve trained myself for roles I’ve worked on, but I got to experience what it was like to be someone else entirely. it was a wonderful experience.

HR: Zarkova has to come in and win over Section 20. How did you mesh with the rest of the cast?

YKA: They’ve been working on it a year more, obviously. They were much more prepared than I was. It’s always difficult coming into a new group of people and over this job, we really do bond in a different way, because it’s not life or death but there’s part of your brain that [thinks] it might be. We have to make ourselves believe we’re in situations that are out of the norm and it brings something out.

It was great and we got to be friends over the six months. You really need that trust when you’re working with a group like that, to be able to play the scenes we play and let yourself go into the idea of whether that person could betray you.

HR: Did the producers tell you whose side Zarkova is actually on? Or did you have to find it out as Strike Back Season 6 was filming?

YKA: I knew a couple of things from my audition scene, but they also hid a lot from me. They didn’t tell me all the details. They always want to see what the actor will bring to the project without being directed too much. You’re directed on set, but if you’re given the whole story beforehand, it’s not how TV series work. So I was left in the dark about a few things, but I knew a few elements of it. I knew the spine of the story.

HR: Did you have a moment where it clicked and you felt like you’d settled into the role?

YKA: It’s not second nature to me to be this woman, so it did take a while. But there was a moment that when I was reading the scripts, I could feel her voice in me much more naturally and I knew her intentions much more instinctually than I did in the beginning, so along the way, I think you’ll be able to see that too. It’s a physical job too and over the six months, your physique changes a lot but you inhabit it. It changes the way you walk, changes the way you talk and hold yourself. We basically grew into each other.

HR: Is there anything you want to say to Strike Back fans as they continue to watch you and your character? Anything you want them to know?

YKA: I’ve always liked anti-heroes and I guess the idea is to not judge a book by its cover and kind of wait for the character to let itself out. I think people are often like that about me, too. They never know where to put me in their minds at first and I’ve grown accustomed to it. I had a great time [on the show];  I hope they have a great time watching it too. There’s not black and white in the series. No one’s really the good guy or the bad guy, and I hope they enjoy what we created.

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Strike Back airs Fridays at 10 p.m. on Cinemax. For more on Strike Back and other Cinemax shows, follow the Cinemax category at Hidden Remote.