Nathalie Emmanuel Gives RAW Interview, Debunks ‘Game of Thrones’ Theories
RAW: Tell us about growing up in London.
NATHALIE: I’m from a small seaside town just outside of London called Southend-on-Sea, where I grew up. That's where most of my family still is. I grew up by the sea.
RAW: Was there ever a specific moment when you realized you were mixed race?
NATHALIE: I definitely didn't know that I was brown skinned until a boy in the park said something a little racist. (laughs) But he was six so we can let that go. I asked my mom why he called me that name and my mom said, “Oh, well because our family is from the Caribbean.” I was like, “Oh, okay,” and that was it. Suddenly race identity became very important [one day when] we had a multicultural day at school. We were talking about how a lot of black and African cultures have blended into British culture, and there was a lot of people who were quite upset. I was in a really interesting position there because I have white and black heritage. I was sort of in the middle.
RAW: You’re very passionate about women's rights. Do you think we’ve progressed over the years?
NATHALIE: There’s definitely a movement at the moment for women and women demanding equality. We still need to achieve that absolutely. It’s ridiculous that women aren't paid the same for the same work still. That has to change as of yesterday. Within film there are many more films for women, like authentic, realistic roles for women, but I think there are still many, very exaggerated, heightened, or stylized roles for women. I personally would love to see more roles for women that I recognize from my everyday life in film and television. There are lots of people writing those women, so I’m excited to see them and hopefully play them too.
RAW: What would you say to young viewers watching right now? What could they do in their everyday life to help us get to that point?
NATHALIE: When you see injustice, speak up. Don’t feel that you have to be put down, especially if you are a girl or feel that you’re being treated differently. You have a voice. Use it. And the same for guys. If you see inequality playing out in front of you, you should stand up for your female counterparts as much as they have to stand up for themselves.
RAW: Your mom’s a careworker for kids and adults with special needs. What have you learned over the years?
NATHALIE: My mom’s work has taught me to accept everybody exactly where they’re at. And that doesn’t make them any less than I am. It’s shown me compassion and patience because sometimes dealing with someone who has certain behavioral disorders, their behavior can be challenging or somewhat distressing even to people that they care about. It’s just something that they’re working through at that time. And it really teaches you patience and forgiveness, and just to love unconditionally. The women that my mom looks after have lived with us since I was 14. They’re like my family, like my sisters. It's also [shameful] how cruel the world can be a bit because you see people laugh, point, and be mean about them. It makes me sad but it also just makes me realize how lucky we are that we aren’t like that. So... (laughs)
RAW: Can you tell us about Titan? What kind of preparation did you have to do for the movie?
NATHALIE: My main preparation for the movie was kind of overcoming some fears about being submerged in water because I had some scenes that were underwater, and I had a bit of a crazy incident as a kid where someone jumped in the pool on top of me when I was six or seven. So as much as I love the pool and I love going into the sea, you would rarely see me with my head under the water. Because after that experience, I was super panicked and it just wasn’t my thing. So now, I’m much more confident because I had to learn how to sit at the bottom of the swimming pool and learn how to use this scuba diving equipment, the regulator, and to be able to take air in.
RAW: Where is you favorite place in the whole world?
NATHALIE: My mum’s house.
RAW: And why is that?
NATHALIE: ‘Cause my mum’s there. I’m such a mummy’s girl. It’s getting worse as I’m getting older apparently. I love my mum. I go home and it’s just like everything is good.
RAW: Do you have time to talk to her all the time?
NATHALIE: Yeah my sister and I and my mum have a WhatsApp group that we speak on constantly. Obviously I’m often away, and I’m on different time zones. I often wake up to my sister on there or they wake up to my sister and me. I talk to my mum mostly everyday.
RAW: Was there ever an actor where you were like, “Oh my god, I need to do this.”
NATHALIE: The most obvious one was Halle Berry just because she was one of the first that I had seen that I felt represented by. There were very few women of color that I had seen in mainstream things. Her winning the Oscar, I was like, “Oh wow.” This woman is beautiful yes, but incredibly talented. My other inspiration is Meryl Streep. She’s just amazing - one of the greatest character actresses.
RAW: What’s your favorite movie or show series?
NATHALIE: Films that I loved as a kid I totally still watch. I love The Goonies, that was great fun, but I also loved-- (laughs) this is so cheesy-- so there’s these books by the same author. There’s A Little Princess and The Secret Garden and I loved those two films growing up. I still watch them. They’re on my laptop. They’re like my bedtime stories when I want to fall asleep.
RAW: Who are some of your all time favorite musicians and who did you absolutely love growing up?
NATHALIE: Well I am British, so Spice Girls, obviously. And they would all bag girl power, so we love them! I missed their reunion tour and was heartbroken so if you want to do another one that would be great! My family is Caribbean so reggae was just a big part of our household. Bob Marley obviously. He’s a huge star and legend. I still love Lauryn Hill and the Fugees.
RAW: Describe your fashion style. What’s your go-to when you have a day off and you’re just ready to chill?
NATHALIE: Comfortable. I’m a really jeans and T-shirt kind of person. I like baggy things. I don’t like form fitting things. That's why I like the-- you call them overalls, we [in Britain] call them dungarees.
RAW: Last movie you saw?
NATHALIE: I actually watched Frances Ha for the first time. I’ve heard so much about it and I wanted to watch it. I really liked it.
RAW: Who was your first celebrity crush?
NATHALIE: (Snorts) Oh gosh it’s so embarrassing. Don’t know if you guys know him [in America]. His name’s Peter Andre (laughs) and he’s like a pop star in the U.K. Oh my goodness. I loved him. That's so embarrassing. He had this great song called "Mysterious Girl", which was so good. Then he had really good abs and he was like body rolling under a waterfall. And he had this proper 90’s curtains and an open shirt, a light tan... I had lots of pictures of him around my bedroom.
RAW: You have one of the most beautiful heads of hair we’ve ever seen. Can you tell us one for your craziest stories about your hair?
NATHALIE: Well, I just lose stuff. Like, I’ll have my hair styled with clips and pins and everything, and I find them for a couple of days. The longest is probably about three days later, and I was like, “What is that,” and it was a pin. Because it gets in all the curls and it just sort of gets caught.
RAW: And lastly, and most importantly, how crazy is the Game of Thrones finale going to be?
NATHALIE: Oh my goodness, it’s going to be so good. We really could feel the magnitude of what we were shooting. You just feel the weight of all the seasons being carried with us too. And the implications of certain characters feeling the same space for the first time. Everyone is so good. I’m going to be sad when it’s done.ᴿᴬᵂ