Game of Thrones Star Addresses Backlash to Her Character's Brutal Death

It's been over a year since the finale of Game of Thrones, but the HBO series continues to have an effect on our popular culture. The series was perhaps best known for its buzzworthy and controversial approach to character deaths, with much of the show's ensemble being met with gristly fates. One of the show's final major deaths came towards the end of Season 8, when Missandei (Nathalie Emmanuel) was beheaded by Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey). The death definitely struck a chord with fans of the series, especially since Missandei was one of the few long-term characters of color on the show. In a recent interview with British Vogue, Emmanuel spoke about the long-term effect of Missandei's death, and how it led her to reevaluate the ways that Thrones handled its onscreen diversity.

"It definitely caused me to reflect a lot more — about race and diversity more generally," Emmanuel explained. "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 color."

"It’s a conversation I used to have a lot with Jacob [Anderson], who played Grey Worm, the only other major non-white character in the series," Emmanuel continued. "We were always really conscious of how much our being part of Game of Thrones mattered to people. It made us really protective of Missandei and Grey Worm."

This isn't the first time that Emmanuel has spoken out about the repercussions of her onscreen death, as she said shortly after the episode aired that it was both unsurprising and a sign that things need to change.

"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 last May. "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."

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"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," Emmanuel said. "So, this is a conversation going forward about when you're casting shows like this, that you are inclusive in your casting. I knew that 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 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."

What do you think of Emmanuel's comments surrounding her Game of Thrones character's death? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!

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