During the fourth episode of Game of Thrones' last season Missandei of Naath (Nathalie Emmanuel), who dreamed of returning to her beachy homefront with her Unsullied beau and his army standing guard for them, was executed by Cersei -- in front of Grey Worm and her Daenerys. She was a calming force and a true friend to the Mother of Dragons, proving that her loyalty yet again by snapping back at people who dared to cast aspersions upon her queen.
Her loss was bitter for several reasons, including that Emmanuel is the only woman of color to have a major role on Game of Thrones. Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, Emmanuel addressed that fact while explaining she understood the uproar that rose up in the wake of her character's death.
"To be honest with you, when I read the script for it, I was like, not surprised that she died because I had been expecting it for a really long time," Emmanuel said. "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 and Jacob [Anderson, who plays her onscreen beau, Grey Worm] and I are fully engaged in that conversation constantly and throughout our whole time together."
She added, "But generally, I understand people's outrage, I understand people's heartbreak because this is the conversation around representation. 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. 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."
Previously, Emmanuel, who has portrayed the character since the start of Season 3, issued goodbyes to the character as well as her co-stars, via social media.
On Instagram, Emmanuel wrote that it was one of her "greatest joys" to portray such a "brilliant woman who overcame so much suffering and found herself, her voice... and her one and only love. She represented so much for me, personally, that I have no choice but to carry the things she has taught me into my life going forward."
Emmanuel then addressed co-star Emilia Clarke when she wrote, "I've loved playing your BFF for the past 7 years. Thank you for being such a wonderful person in my life and a source of light and laughter."
To her on-screen love interest Jacob Anderson, she added, "I literally cannot tell you what sharing the screen with you has meant to me. I found performances I didn't know I had inside me, simply because you gave me so much to work against. Playing Missandei and Grey Worm's journey has been so special. I couldn't have asked for a more generous and supportive co-star."
Game of Thrones airs on Sundays at 9/8c on HBO.
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