'Game of Thrones' Star Nathalie Emmanuel Speaks out About Representation on the Show

Nathalie Emmanuel is prepared to admit where Game of Thrones had its weaknesses. The actress played Missandei on the show, and as one of the only people of color on the series, she said it "could have done better" with diverse representation. However, Emmanuel, like the rest of the cast and crew, is still proud of what they accomplished.

Emmanuel won the love of fans over time as Missandei, the young translator slave who becomes one of Daenerys' most trusted advisers. After her tragic fate in Season 8, she discussed the show publicly like the rest of the cast, and she was prepared to admit where it fell short. During a Q&A at the British Film Institute BFI Luminous event earlier this year, she admitted that diversity was not their strong suit.

"I think [the criticism] was fair," she said, according to a report by WinterIsComing.net.

Diverse representation was severely limited on Game of Thrones, with the only long-running non-white characters being Missandei and Grey Worm, played by Jacob Anderson. However, Emmanuel argued that the representation they did have was particularly well done.

"They really gave the characters of colour they did have some great stories and scenes to play," she said. "In the books, my character isn't really prominent. They really gave me some beautiful things to do and portray with my amazing friend and colleague Jacob [Anderson, who played Grey Worm]. I felt really supported and looked after in that respect."

"But I think it's important to note that they could have done better there," she went on. "Hopefully that criticism will be heeded for future shows of that magnitude. That’s only a positive thing, so I'm excited to see what those conversations have started."

Like many of the characters in Game of Thrones, Missandei's age was increased from that of her book counterpart. The issue of diversity is complicated in the case of medieval fantasy adaptations, depending on the population spread of the fictional world.

"Westeros around 300 A.C. is nowhere near as diverse as 21st century America, of course," author George R. R. Martin once wrote on his blog.


Earlier this year, HBO had many Game of Thrones fans hopeful when it order a pilot from its first spinoff series, which had the working title Bloodmoon. Bloodmoon had a much more diverse cast, as well as a female showrunner, Jane Goldman, who is an accomplished action screenwriter.

However, Bloodmoon was ultimately scrapped, and HBO ordered another spinoff, House of the Dragon, straight to series. House of the Dragon centers around Daenerys' ancestors around 180 years before the main series, so we can assume many main characters will look like her. There are a few diverse roles from the book that fans are eager to see on screen, however, and it sounds like Emmanuel is too.