It’s been a week since we said goodbye to Missandei on Game of Thrones and we’re still not quite over it. Actress Nathalie Emmanuel is also still processing the anger and heartbreak that has since grown online and it’s creating a larger conversation about the show’s lack of diversity.
Emmanuel spoke to Entertainment Weekly about the scene saying she wasn’t surprised her character was killed off the show.
“So many people die in 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.”
Missandei, who’s intelligent and multi-lingual, was one of Daenerys’ biggest assets and advisors. She and Grey Worm fell in love against all odds and having to see him and Dany watch her getting killed was incredibly heartbreaking.
Emmanuel told the publication she believes the outrage from fans was because the two most important people in her life had to watch her die, but also the fact she was the only long-standing woman of colour on the show and that she died in chains.
“It’s safe to say that Game of Thrones has been under criticism for their lack of representation and the truth of it is that Missandei and Grey Worm have represented so many people because there’s only two of them.”
She added, “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 spaces 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 added.
“I think the fact that she died in chains when she was a slave her whole life, that for me was a pungent cut for that character, that felt so painful but like I said, it’s the reality of the world. It’s kind of makes sense in a social sense, a world sense in that we’re out of chains but sometimes the world makes us feel like we’re not, and that is for me, even playing it when I had the shackles on, it made me quite emotional, it’s hard. Just on an emotional level, I just really felt the impact of that.”
Emmanuel’s next role is a far cry from Game of Thrones with the actress starring in Mindy Kaling’s Four Weddings and a Funeral series. She explained how different it feels on that set to being on GoT, especially since there’s a lot more representation and more people of colour working on the show.
“You generally feel more supported when there are other people who look like you around, so that was a lovely, enjoyable experience. Not to say I wasn’t supported on Game of Thrones, I love that cast and crew and everyone from the bottom of my heart, but those conversations that only you and other people of color understand, it happens and you don’t feel as shy or nervous.