Game of Thrones actor Nathalie Emmanuel has finally addressed the backlash to the brutal demise of her fan-favourite character Missandei, saying that it opened up important discussion about how actors of colour are treated in television, and demonstrated what happens when on-screen representation is so minimal.
Speaking to Entertainment Tonight, Emmanuel said that she understood why fans reacted with such disappointment when Missandei was executed early into the show’s polarising final season, particularly as she was one of just two characters of colour with prominent roles on the show.
“When you have the token characters – I don’t think they tokenise us in the usual sense – but when you have one or two characters, people who are used to being othered or of a minority background, [viewers] will look for the closest thing to them, and I think so many people are so rooting and invested in those two characters,” Emmanuel explained. “And then specifically women and women of colour [identified with] Missandei, so I expected the reaction to that, but I wasn’t quite prepared for the size of the reaction and, like, very prominent people were writing about it.”
She concluded, “I was kind of excited that that conversation was being had. But it’s something we can learn from going forward, about how we cast things, especially because it was a fantasy series. There’s fantasy, there’s so much more possibility. And … that way, if you try to cast as inclusively as possible, when the only one goes or is no longer in the show, there’s not so much of a heartbreak, because you feel represented throughout, as opposed to by just one person.”
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