Nathalie Emmanuel talks Game of Thrones backlash


It’s been a long time since Nathalie Emmanuel did anything other than Game of Thrones. After all, she first appeared on the series as Missandei back in season 3, and she quickly became a much bigger character than many anticipated. She grew to be Daenerys Targaryen’s most trusted confidant and closest friend — both things that led the dragon queen to madness when she lost Missandei during season 8.

And given that she didn’t make it through the show’s controversial final season, Emmanuel has often found herself being questioned about the backlash the series received. In particular, people seem to want her perspective of her character’s demise and the criticism surrounding it. Many fans have suggested that Missandei’s death is made worse by the fact that she was the only prominent woman of color on the series.

“Obviously, Missandei’s demise sparked a big conversation,” Emmanuel said in an interview with The Guardian. “[Before then], the show was criticized for its lack of diversity. Jacob and I often had to answer for that, as the two prominent characters of color in the show, which was really difficult.”

"The reaction to Missandei’s death was so big because she was the only one. I think a lot of the people who felt othered or disenfranchised had connected with her, or felt represented by her, especially women of color. When she died — and in the way that she did — it was so painful for people because they were like, ‘Wait, no! That’s how they’re going to do the only woman of color?’"

And while Emmanuel understands all the controversy surrounding the eighth season of Game of Thrones — particularly when it comes to diversity — she’s not on board with all of it. “I understood, but it did go a little far,” she told The Telegraph. “I don’t think you can ask for receipts on art. I think art is subjective, and you’re allowed to not like it, but you can’t ask an artist to change it.”

Now that the HBO series has ended, however, Emmanuel has had an opportunity to broaden her experience by working on Four Weddings and a Funeral on Hulu. She’s especially excited about the work because rom-coms “have never been particularly welcoming of diversity. So the fact that we had Kash and Maya — a British Pakistani Muslim man and an African American woman — at the centre of the story is very rare. The fact that it was even on the table was a breath of fresh air.”

Of course, working on Four Weddings and a Funeral is also a breath of fresh air because it’s so different from working on Game of Thrones. “It’s a lot of fun — it’s light, it’s not that serious,” Emmanuel said. “There are a lot of shows these days that are so dark and violent and we love their drama, but this is about millennials and their love lives. And no one gets their head cut off.”

No beheadings can certainly be a benefit depending on which audiences and actors you’re speaking with. But it also sounds like Emmanuel is working on projects that will enable her to make a difference and expand her acting talents — and we’re definitely interested in Four Weddings and a Funeral for those things alone.

Carice van Houten would be in House of the Dragon. dark. Next

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