Nathalie Emmanuel talks representation (or lack thereof) in big budget TV

Image: Game of Thrones/HBO
Image: Game of Thrones/HBO /

It’s been three years since the end of Game of Thrones and passion for the series hasn’t died down; just look at how many people are enjoying the prequel series House of the Dragon on HBO.

Honestly, I’m a little surprised how popular House of the Dragon has been right out of the gate given that the last thing a lot of people remember about Game of Thrones is its hugely controversial ending. Nathalie Emmanuel was a part of that; her character Missandei, the only prominent woman of color of the show, was executed in shackles a few episodes before the end, leading to a conversation about racial insensitivity that, looking back, Emmanuel calls “fair.”

“I think her killing really speaks to how there can be more than one person of colour on these big budget shows,” Emmanuel told NME. “I think when we do these shows in the future, we need to have this idea of inclusion at the forefront and a diversity of thought and ideas all the way up the chain.”

Emmanuel points to the prequel show as an example of how things are changing. House of the Dragon cast Black actor Steve Toussaint as Corlys Velaryon, an important character. Corlys has a lot of relatives who will be played by actors of color as well. Sonoya Mizuno, an actor of Japanese and British descent, plays Mysaria. The producers on House of the Dragon clearly thought about representation before getting to work.

Nathalie Emmanuel: Game of Thrones was “never the show that pleased everybody or had happy endings”

So far as the other controversial parts of the ending go, Emmanuel wonders if people were barking up the wrong tree if they expected the show to wrap up entirely to their liking. “It was never the show that pleased everybody or had happy endings,” she said. “When was it ever doing what everyone wanted it to?”

"Watching it as Nathalie the fan, I have my favourite characters and my own ideas about what happened to them or who I would love more time with."

As for Emmanuel herself, she’s thriving. She’s currently starring in the horror film The Invitation, and will appear in The Godfather director Francis Ford Coppola’s new film Megalopolis.

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