Game of Thrones star Nathalie Emmanuel opened up about her role as Misssandei, who spent most of her time on the show with Elimia Clarke's Daenerys Targaryen. During one scene filmed early on in her tenure, Emmanuel said Clarke had to come to her defense after an extra made an offensive remark. Her time on the show made the 31-year-old Emmanuel think about race and diversity more, inspiring her to make sure representation is important when she signs on for another role.
Emmanuel joined Game of Thrones in Season 3 as Missandei, a former slave who works for Daenerys and becomes a trusted advisor. During her first season on the show, she had a revealing costume, which led to an extra making a comment about it. "Emilia straightaway had my back. It got handled," Emmanuel told Vogue in a new interview.
"Emilia and I got on like a house on fire from the beginning," Emmanuel said of her relationship with Clarke. "When I joined the cast, she had already been shooting Game of Thrones for a few years, and she was definitely ready to have some female energy around her. She and I always looked out for each other. If you’re the only girls on a male-dominated set, it bonds you in a certain way."
Missandei was killed off during the show's controversial final season. Her death angered fans, especially those who embraced her as the show's only main character of color. The reaction to her death, especially in light of the Black Lives Matter protests, caused Emmanuel to think about representation in the projects she signs up for. Immediately after Game of Thrones ended, Emmanuel appeared in Mindy Kaling's Hulu miniseries adaptation of Four Weddings and a Funeral, which featured a diverse cast.
"It definitely caused me to reflect a lot more – about race and diversity more generally," Emmanuel said of Thrones. "At the end of the day, if there’s ever a show on the level of Game of Thrones again, representation has to be part of the conversation from the beginning. That way, there’s no single person who has to represent every other person of colour."
Emmanuel said she often talked about this with her co-star Jacob Anderson, who starred as Grey Worm. "We were always really conscious of how much our being part of Game of Thrones mattered to people," she told Vogue. "It made us really protective of Missandei and Grey Worm."
Emmanuel now stars in Die Hart, a new comedy starring Kevin Hart for Quibi. She also voices Deet in Netflix's The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance. She is set to star in Universal's next Fast and Furious movie, F9, now scheduled to open on April 2, 2021. It was supposed to open in 2020 but was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.