GOT Star Nathalie Emmanuel Explains How Doing Nudity Has Affected Her Career

By Keelia Clarkson··  4 min read
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GOT Star Nathalie Emmanuel Explains How Doing Nudity Has Affected Her Career

Nathalie Emmanuel joins a host of other women who claim their acting careers changed after doing nude scenes.

The three things Game of Thrones is best known for? Plenty of dragons, funky character names, and no shortage whatsoever of nude scenes. During its run from 2011-2019, Game of Thrones was nearly impossible to ignore, its cult following growing tremendously with every passing year. The fantasy series also launched several actors’ careers — Emilia Clarke, Jason Momoa, and Sophie Turner, just to name a few. 

Since the show’s finale in 2019, we’ve heard from Emilia Clarke, who portrayed Daenerys Targaryen, about the pressure she felt to perform nude in the series’ early days, and on other sets since the show ended, despite expressing her desire to not do nudity on new projects — even being told, “You don’t want to disappoint your Game of Thrones fans.” Clarke has stated that if she were to shoot the pilot of Game of Thrones today, it would be a “very, very, very different situation.” 

Now, fellow GOT alum Nathalie Emmanuel, who portrayed Missandei in the show’s later seasons, has spoken out about how having done nudity on the series has affected her career after the fact.

nathalie emmanuel emilia clarke game of thrones

Nathalie Emmanuel Expressed a Similar Problem to Emilia Clarke

While on the Make It Reign podcast’s May 25 episode, Nathalie Emmanuel opened up about being expected to always do nudity, stating, “When I did Game of Thrones, I agreed to work certain nude scenes or nudity within the show… The perception from other projects, when the role required nudity, was that I was just, like, open to do anything because I did it on that one show… What people didn’t realize was that, you know, I agreed to certain terms and specific things for that one particular project. And it didn’t necessarily apply to all projects.”

Female bodies are seen as objects that we shouldn’t be denied access to once granted.

Along with fighting the expectation of being open to doing nudity in any circumstance for any project, Emmanuel says she had to learn to draw boundaries to protect herself against directors attempting to pressure her to give in, saying, “I definitely had people kind of challenge me, being 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. I can do this.’ What I feel is necessary for the part. Frankly, if someone was like, ‘Well, we need this nudity.’ I would be like, ‘Well, thank you very much, I appreciate your interest, but that’s just not what I feel is necessary for the part’.”

What Happened to the Importance of Consent?

Ever since the #MeToo movement, the importance of consent within physical and sexual interactions has been put in the spotlight. We now see that explicitly asking for consent is essential. But we also expect the men we engage with to continue asking for consent — saying yes once doesn’t necessarily mean yes always. Manipulating someone to do something because they agreed to it once is abusive. Except, of course, if you’re an actress who’s done a nude scene, apparently.

Kiera Knightly has spoken out about getting drunk in order to shoot nude scenes, and now refuses to do sex scenes shot by male directors. Kate Winslet wishes she “hadn’t shown so much flesh” in her nude Titanic scene. Mary Louise Parker, despite frequently performing nude on Weeds, has expressed being “bitter” over one nude bathtub scene in particular, having fought with the director and eventually been “goaded” into performing the scene. Helen Mirren, famous for consistently performing nude, has stated her regrets for baring it all, saying she didn’t want to “seem uptight” by declining to be nude.

The entertainment industry treats women's bodies as props to be used whenever it’s profitable.

Far too often, young actresses aren’t afforded the ability to change their minds. The entertainment industry treats their bodies as props to be used whenever it’s profitable, pressuring them to perform in gratuitous sex scenes or as eye candy in the background. Female bodies are seen as objects that we shouldn’t be denied access to once granted — but it’s clear that even actresses who agree to strip once, or a few times, aren’t open to doing it anytime a director deems it necessary, and they deserve the right to say no.

Closing Thoughts

Nathalie Emmanuel is hardly alone in her struggle to have her boundaries respected by the entertainment industry, but her courage in speaking up is commendable, and her story is essential as the film industry shifts into more female-friendly territory.

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