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Nathalie Emmanuel on Missandei’s Death and Representation

Nathalie Emmanuel Photo by Helen Sloan - © 2017 - HBO

 

Game of Thrones Actress Talks About Representation After the Outrage From Missandei’s Death

 

Last week, Game of Thrones forced viewers to watch the gut-wrenching death of Missandei (Nathalie Emmanuel). The general public reaction was pretty hostile, as fans pointed out the implications of killing off one of the only women of color (or a person of color at all) in the show. The death of a WOC should not be used to further the arc of a white savior character. Also, Missandei died in chains, a reminder of the slavery Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) took her from. It was pretty heavy-handed racism.

Nathalie Emmanuel has played Missandei since her introduction in the third season. She became Daenerys’s close friend and confidant. Missandei even found love for herself in Grey Worm (Jacob Anderson), the leader of the Unsullied. She died in front of these two characters. 

Jacob Anderson and Nathalie Emmanuel in Game of Thrones (2011)
Jacob Anderson and Nathalie Emmanuel in Game of Thrones (2011) © HBO

Nathalie did an interview with Entertainment Weekly on what made Missandei’s death so heartbreaking and what it says about race in a show like Game of Thrones. Here are some of her thoughts.

Nathalie Emmanuel’s Take

“To be honest with you, when I read the script for it, I was like, not surprised that she died because I had been expecting it for a really long time,” she said. “So many people die on that show and I guess I didn’t think I was any safer than anybody else in that respect. But I am fully aware and engaged in the conversation of representation because I am the only woman of color in this show that has been on there regularly for many seasons.” 

She advised other shows to be more inclusive in their casting in the future. 

“So this is a conversation going forward about when you’re casting shows like this, that you are inclusive in your casting. I knew what it meant that she was there, I know what it means that I am existing in the space that I am because when I was growing up, I didn’t see people like me. But it wasn’t until she was gone that I really felt what it really, truly meant, until I saw the outcry and outpouring of love and outrage and upset about it, I really understood what it meant.”

She went on to say she was heartbroken for Missandei to die the way she did. But she also wished she had more scenes with Dany before the end. She also acknowledged that the harshness of the world of Game of Thrones played a part in Missandei’s death.

Going Forward

Nathalie’s next big project is something totally different. She’s going to be in Mindy Kaling’s Hulu series Four Weddings and a Funeral. The cast is more diverse than thrones, and Nathalie says she’s excited about the project and to do something a little less stressful. I can’t wait to see this!

 

 


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