Nathalie Emmanuel Says This $65 Yoga Top Helps Her Stay Focused on Her Poses

Caitlin Brody

Nathalie Emmanuel has tackled fantasy in Game of Thrones, action in the Fast and the Furious franchise, and romantic comedies with Mindy Kaling’s television adaptation of Four Weddings and a Funeral. Next up, the British actor can finally add comedy to her résumé with Quibi’s Die Hart, a series set at a school for actors who yearn to be the next action star—think Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Charlize Theron, or Tom Cruise. Emmanuel plays Jordan King, a rival of Kevin Hart (he plays himself), while John Travolta stars as the school's show-no-mercy leader.

“What drew me to the project was the script,” Emmanuel says from her London flat, where she just got home from a socially distant catchup over tea with a friend. “I knew Kevin Hart was doing it and he’s obviously funny, but then I read the script and laughed all the way through. I just thought it was so light, fun, and silly. It didn’t take itself too seriously. It was such a joy to read and made me really excited about the prospect of doing it.”

“The character of Jordan is a fierce, tough-minded woman who doesn’t suffer fools, which is kind of amazing and something I can relate to,” she adds, with a laugh.

Unlike many series that had to halt production due to the pandemic, Die Hart was completed just under the wire. “We filmed in Atlanta from the first week of February until the first week of March, right before the lockdown happened,” she says. “It feels like another era.” While many of us have been finding escape in the lowest-of-the-low-brow reality TV binges (guilty) or bake-offs (yup, guilty again), the idea of a laugh-out-loud comedy feels like chicken soup these days—good for the soul.

Something else that’s good for the soul, and just slightly headier? “I think it’s important to pursue other things that you love [besides career],” says Emmanuel, who is a certified (and practicing) yoga instructor, HBO money be damned. “I was taught in my training that you’re supposed to remove yourself—the language you use is not about ‘I’ or ‘me’; it’s about the class. I enjoy the fact that I get to offer up this thing that has nothing to do with me, really.” Outside of savasanas—and a nudge for you (yes, you!) to embrace your own passions outside of work—here are some of Emmanuel’s other faves.

Die Hart premieres on July 20 on Quibi.

The dish that brings me back

I grew up eating ackee and saltfish, which is the Jamaican national dish. While my family isn’t Jamaican—they’re Saint Lucian and from the island of Dominica. Growing up in London, the West Indian food that you get tends to be Jamaican food. I’ve been vegan for about eight years, so now I make what I call ackee and no-saltfish, and make it vegan with rice and peas, or dumplings. Sometimes I’ll fry plantains and eat it with a side of steamed vegetables that have been seasoned with curry. It’s been fun for me to change recipes to not include meat or fish.

The book I’m reading right now

I’ve been reading Natives by Akala, a British rapper, who is also a writer and an academic. He works in the prison system with young people and is a really inspiring guy. It talks about race, culture, and the repercussions of the British empire. It’s been so good. In this moment in time with the civil unrest that’s been happening with Black Lives Matter, I’ve been doing a lot of reading to educate myself and equip myself with information for when people want to spout nonsense at me.

“Natives” by Akala

$16.00, Amazon

BUY NOW

My go-to playlist

Queen Bey has so many empowering songs, especially for women. I’ll put on a lot of her songs and am like, “Yes! I am a goddess! I am ready for my day!” [Laughs.] So Beyoncé is definitely up there.

I also really love late-’90s, early-2000s Jennifer Lopez. I went to the Super Bowl this year, and I’m not even going to pretend—I was there for J.Lo. For me, the football was the warm-up act. It was an amazing show, but the game was amazing too. My mom and I just happened to sit next to these two very lovely gentlemen who were explaining everything to us because we had no idea what was going on. From what I could tell, it was a very exciting game. But J.Lo, though!

My fave reality show

I don’t watch much reality TV, but RuPaul’s Drag Race is a lot of fun.

The perfume I love

I wear different perfumes based on my mood or even my outfit. Over the years I’ve really liked the classic Chanel No. 5. I also really like The One by Dolce. I realize my girlfriend is the face of that perfume, but that’s just a happy coincidence. [Editor’s note: That would be Emmanuel’s Game of Thrones costar Emilia Clarke.] I’ve used it for years. A friend of mine bought it for my birthday.

Chanel N°5 Eau de Parfum

$105.00, Chanel

BUY NOW

Dolce & Gabbana The One

$76.00, Dolce & Gabbana

BUY NOW

The athleisure set that makes me feel powerful

My mom bought me this really beautiful tribal-print crop top and matching pants by Nunémoné that’s really soft and lovely. On the front of the top, there is a beautiful tribal African woman and her face falls right in the middle of my chest. When I do balancing yoga poses and look in the mirror, I use her as my drishti—my focus. I love wearing it because there’s something about having this gorgeous Black woman on my chest, especially as a Black mixed woman. I just stare at her, and she helps me hold my dancer's pose.

Nunémoné Odudua Round Neck Top

$65.00, Nunémoné

BUY NOW

Nunémoné Oya Leggings

$95.00, Nunémoné

BUY NOW

The last thing I bought

A maxiskirt from Boohoo UK. It’s starting to get to those summer months where I don’t want denim on. I just want flowy things.

My favorite way to treat my skin

I’m a huge fan of a nice face mask. The clarifying mask from Dr. Barbara Sturm is really lovely.

Dr. Barbara Sturm Clarifying Mask

$145.00, Dr. Barbara Sturm

BUY NOW

My hair-care regimen

Jim + Henry is a really amazing brand in the U.K., and they do lovely, gentle products for curly and coily hair. I really like their leave-in conditioner, which has only eight ingredients, and they also have a rosemary-based oil that I love putting on my scalp and on the ends of my hair for moisture. My hair is in locs at the moment, so I use it on my scalp to make sure my hair has nutrients. I also really like Tracee Ellis Ross’s company Pattern—it’s gentle, and the shampoo, conditioner, and leave-in conditioner are really nice. She just put out a gel that I want to try soon.

Pattern Leave-In Conditioner

$25.00, Pattern

BUY NOW

Jim + Henry Leave-In Conditioner

$19.00, Jim + Henry

BUY NOW

I try to be as natural as possible, so while I have all of these great hair products, sometimes I just get the big tub of shea butter out from the fridge, add some essential oils, and give my scalp a big rub with that.

The best alternative to sweats

If I’m at home, I’ve probably got on my dressing gown. It’s a navy blue fluffy thing that’s really warm and cozy. I have no idea who it’s by, and I know I definitely didn’t buy it, but it’s mine now. [Laughs.] I don’t sleep in it, but even when it’s quite warm, I’ll have it on and people will be like, “Aren’t you hot?” And I’m like, “No, I’m cozy.”

My favorite sneakers

I was working with Reebok recently, and they brought out a line called Cotton and Corn, made of natural ingredients that featured a mostly, if not fully, biodegradable trainer. I really like those and have them in a few colors: lilac, cream, and blue.

Reebok Cotton and Corn Shoes

$90.00, Reebok

BUY NOW

How I sweat

I’ve been doing interval training in the garden. But as much as it’s good for you and keeps you active, my heart is in yoga. It is what stimulates me in every way. I do what I consider to be more “gym workouts” because my job requires me to be in a certain physical fitness, especially if I’m doing action roles, but I never feel as good as when I’m doing yoga every day. It’s not just physical for me. You build strength and suddenly are like, “Oh my God, I can hold this pose, this is amazing!” But the internal work that happens—spiritual, mental, emotional—all becomes really engaged in yoga.

In this lockdown, I’ve been focusing more on interval training to keep my blood pumping. Only a few days ago I realized that I had kind of fallen off my yoga practice. I really felt the disadvantages of that in my mental and emotional well-being, especially during this time with Black Lives Matter. Whenever I fall off my dedicated practice and I come back to it, I think, Why did I ever stop?

My favorite app

Yoga Glo is a really great resource for all yoga abilities. You can filter how long you want to practice, if there are any areas you want to work on, your level, if you want to use a chair or a blanket, and it will bring up all these different class videos for you to follow along. It’s actually a really great tool for teaching. I trained as a yoga teacher a couple of years ago, and I find the app is a really great resource to get ideas on sequencing and how people structure their classes, because I’m still quite new to that.

How I stay centered

I decided to get into teaching yoga because I had so many friends and colleagues who said they wanted to try it and asked if I could introduce them to it. I was really cautious about the fact that a teacher needs to understand the body and how to adjust for injury, and I didn’t want the responsibility without the knowledge of teaching. I did my 200-hour yoga teacher training at a U.K. chain of studios called Yoga Haven, at their Clapham location. I was teaching there for a few months, and then my acting work kicked in again and I was away all the time. They were so sweet and understanding, but I felt that I was letting everyone down because I kept having to get my class covered. I’m committed to teaching well, and I want to be a reliable member of staff—not someone who floats in and out—and I couldn’t really be that. While in lockdown, I’ve been teaching my family every Sunday. I’m trying to figure out how to marry my love of yoga, ability to teach, and the platform I have as an actor to do fundraising and help some causes.

My acting career is based around me—my abilities, my job opportunities, and what I’m doing next—but it’s really important to seek stuff outside of yourself: the things that you love, that feed your soul, and make you feel excited. At the end of the day, acting is a very risky business, and you’re not working all the time. So what are you doing when you’re not working? Am I just sitting here twiddling my thumbs? I want to try to nurture the other things that I love and enjoy. So when acting isn’t happening, I’ve got something that I really feel fulfilled by, and teaching is one of those things.

Caitlin Brody is the entertainment director at Condé Nast.

Originally Appeared on Glamour

More From