Nathalie Emmanuel (Missandei) on the future of representation in Hollywood


Game of Thrones star Nathalie Emmanuel talks about Missandei’s controversial death and what she hopes for the future of representation onscreen.

Missandei (Nathalie Emmanuel) was an integral part of Game of Thrones. She went from a being a slave serving the masters of Astapor to the most trusted advisor to Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke). And as she was the only prominent woman of color on the show, this transition meant a lot to many people, including Emmanuel. Of course, starting off as a slave was pretty much in keeping with the traditional roles given to people of color, but Emmanuel gave Missandei a purpose and presence that made her stand out.

Speaking with Vogue, Emmanuel briefly reflected on her Game of Thrones journey, particularly about Missandei’s death. She recalls first learning that Missandei was going to die and realizing that “as the only woman of color on the show” she “knew that people would feel her loss.”

Missandei was beheaded by Ser Gregor Clegane (Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson) in the final season of Game of Thrones on the orders of Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey), as Daenerys and Greyworm (Jacob Anderson) watched in horror and rage. It sparked something inside of the Mother of Dragons, and we all know how that ended.

Nathalie Emmanuel did not take lightly the responsibility of being the only women of color on the show. In an interview with Essence she spoke about the backlash of Missandei’s death and how “a death like that registers as a massive loss.” She and costar Jacob Anderson used to discuss their desire to protect both Missandei and Greyworm for this very reason. They knew what it meant for people around the world, even though no one person of color person can carry the weight of all.

Emmanuel didn’t anticipate “the size of the reaction that happened” following Missandei’s death. The conversations about representation that followed still continue to this day. For Emmanuel, it means looking ahead and trying to do better. “[W]hen we make these shows in the future, when we are casting these shows, like, do we just have to have the one person—is there space for more of us?” she said. “And I think the answer is yes. And I know the answer is yes.”

dark. Next. Nathalie Emmaneul “proud” of “impressive” final Game of Thrones season

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