“Game of Thrones” star Nathalie Emmanuel has spoken out about being at odds with directors who assume she will do nude scenes after appearing unclothed in the hit show.
Emmanuel, who portrayed the character of Missandei, appeared on the “Make It Reign” podcast May 25 episode and revealed that there is an assumption that she is willing “to do anything” in other projects. However, the actress said she is not afraid to dispute the content of scripts she does not feel comfortable with.
“When I did Game of Thrones, I agreed to certain nude scenes or nudity within the show and the perception of that from other projects, when the role required nudity was that I was open to do anything because I did it on that one show,” Emmanuel said.
“But what people didn’t realize was that, I agreed to certain terms and specific things for that one particular project. And it didn’t necessarily apply to all projects.”
The “Fast and Furious” star added that people have even confronted her about her prior on-screen nudity, with the expectation that she will do it for their role.
She said, “And I definitely had people challenge me and be like, ‘But this part requires that.’”
“And I said, ‘Well that’s fine. If you require that in the part, I don’t feel comfortable doing that level of nudity. I will do this amount, or I can do what I feel is necessary for that part,’” Emmanuel added.
“And frankly, if someone was insisting, ‘We need this nudity,’ I would say, ‘Thank you very much, I appreciate your interest, but that’s just not what I feel is necessary for this part.’”
Emmanuel also discussed how Missandei initiated dialogue about diversity and representation on television, particularly after her character died in the show’s eighth season.
She added, “But there is something about the fact that I was the only long-running woman of color in the show. “
“When she died, everyone was like, ‘She’s the only woman of color in the show and we’ve got to invest and grow to love and learn about and she’s the only one!’” she continued.
“I think that my death kind of sparked this conversation around why can there only be one? And when there is only one, how do we treat that person? How do we treat that woman of color? How do we give her the respect that she deserves?”
“I was really proud of the fact that her exit sparked this really important conversation, because it’s not just this show, it is many shows [that may not have diversity in mind when casting, writing or producing],” Emmanuel said.
She also acknowledged her privilege as lighter-complected “mixed black person,” but stressed that even her roles are given weight simply due to the lack of diversity around her.
“As a mixed black person, while I have all this privilege, because I’m a mixed person and have a lighter complexion, I know that I may or may not have had certain opportunities because of that privilege,” she explained.
“That’s something that I have had to educate myself about. I also have always existed in spaces that when I take up space in any production, it means something because we’re so used to just seeing our leads be white and our supporting leads be white,” she said.
“There’s that call for diversity [now] and we’ve seen it, but the primary characters are usually white. And then they’re like, “oh that random character we can cast somebody brown for that,” Emmanuel continued.
“It’s like the brown part in everything. It’s this idea that there can only be one, which is so ridiculous to me.”