Game of Thrones’ Nathalie Emmanuel understands firsthand the importance of diversity on-screen.
After saying goodbye to her character Missandei on GoT, Emmanuel is starring in Hulu’s 10-episode limited series Four Weddings and a Funeral, a project conceived by Mindy Kaling and Matt Warburton, based on the 1994 Hugh Grant rom-com.
In this week’s issue of PEOPLE, Emmanuel discusses her new role and the impact that inclusion in Hollywood can make on today’s world.
“Diversity and inclusion are so important,” says Emmanuel, who stars alongside Nikesh Patel in the series. “They really have a huge impact on a young person, as well on everybody, but especially in those formative years, when you don’t see yourself on screen or within media. There are real consequences of that. And it’s something that I can relate to personally as a woman of color.”
“It would’ve been really important to me that I am a part of a thing, as much as I can be that, reflect the world that we live in,” she adds. “As soon as I saw that Mindy was making this project, I already knew that it would be something that cared about inclusion and diversity. It was really exciting for me to then also be involved in that. Especially right now when the world is just so divisive and there’s so much hate. I’m so proud of the fact that we’ve made this thing.”
Emmanuel, who plays political advisor Maya, says she, in many ways, can relate to her character — who is on a journey of self-discovery.
“I love the fact that she is a very ambitious, very talented, capable woman in a very male-dominated world, in the politics world,” the actress says. “She’s very determined to achieve her goals. I can relate to, within the industry, it’s only really now we’re seeing such a huge push for women to be making things and producing things and writing things. But the majority of my career has been, I’m having to audition for mostly, exist in a very male-dominated space.”
“She’s very much coming to this milestone where you’re making choices and decisions that will potentially affect the course of your life going forward,” she adds. “She’s just like any young person who is just figuring it out.”
While Emmanuel says she herself is still trying to figure it all out, she’s proud of the person she’s become.
“Everyone always has something negative to say,” says the actress. “That doesn’t stop me wanting to be who I am or say what I think, or do the things I do. I’m not doing it for anybody else. I’m just being myself and that’s all I can try and do.”