interview | nathalie emmanuel

Dress, Trousers & Corset / THE ROW

We know her as the watchful Missandei from Game of Thrones and at twenty eight Nathalie Emmanuel is storming our screens once again as 
the ingenious tech hacker Ramsey in the latest installment of the Fast
 and Furious: The Fate of the Furious.

 It’s impossible not to be charmed by Emmanuel: irrepressibly graceful 
behind the camera and delightfully down-to-earth in our interview. 
With her head-turning beauty and with a low-key style, it’s no wonder she was
 chosen to front Dune’s SS campaign.

“Born and bred” in South End on Sea, her mother signed her up to 
singing, dancing and acting classes which gave a very shy Emmanuel
 some confidence and led to her big break (aged ten) playing a young
 Nala in the West End musical of The Lion King.

Jumpsuit / Nicolas Jebran
Choker & Shoulder Fur / Bryan Hearns
Bomber / Manish Arora
Dress / Libertine Libertine

As a teenager she
 secured the role of series regular Sasha Valentine in Hollyoaks, later 
achieving her momentous break in Game of Thrones, followed by her award
 winning role in the Fast and Furious franchise. 

Being cast in Game of Thrones was “quite intimidating because I was a 
fan of the show” she laughs, mid-eating a grape – an admission which 
only makes her more endearing. Her first day on set was also her first
 time in Morocco “it blew my mind.” Then there was her first day on 
Fast and Furious (also a fan), where she had to lead the scene with the 
whole cast, her character waking up having just survived a dramatic
 car crash, driven off a cliff and bounced down a hill: “I was 
absolutely terrified,” she admits.

A charismatic storyteller, Emmanuel feels 
completely comfortable within herself, a heady wave of warmth. 

There was also another reason that Fast and Furious appealed to her: 
“For me the franchise always represented diversity and
 multiculturalism. It’s really important to be represented in the media
 and to see people who you can relate to, who look like you, and so I
 was so excited to be a part of that message. I love that, for
 fifteen plus years, the franchise has been doing that.”

Topcoat, Dress & Skirt / Temperley London
Jumpsuit / Nicolas Jebran
Choker & Shoulder Fur / Bryan Hearns

On diversity in the wider industry, Emmanuel sees progress “compared 
to when I first started acting it’s definitely opened up much more.
 You’re seeing much more casting breakdowns coming through where they
 are not specifying what they are casting, it’s open which is really
 good.” What’s important though is that this maintains, long after the 
media spotlight is taken off the issue. The gender pay gap is still a
 very live issue: “that has to change, as in right now, as in yesterday.
 It’s ridiculous at this point that woman are still not paid the same 
as men for the same work. It makes me cross, really angry.” Yes, she still comes across lots of 2D stereotypical female roles 
(where to be ‘strong and successful’ translates as ‘bossy’ or 
‘masculine’) but she congratulates Games of Thrones for writing 
“really complex characters and complex women.” Parts that are flawed 
and vulnerable. Thankfully she sees more writing moving in that
 direction: female parts crafted with the depth and nuance they

Dress / Dsquared2
Dress / Dsquared2
Blazer / Nicolas Jebran

Writing scripts is yet another string to Emmanuel’s bow, both a
 passion and goal of this year to finish one: “even if it’s terrible,
 even if it’s just a draft, just to complete it.” She is half writing 
all the time, mostly feature length drama, drawn to telling “more
 grounded, everyday stories.” A curiosity in the ordinary must be a
break from the high-octane fantasy worlds she is used to.

From sets in Croatia and Morocco to Atlanta and New Mexico, work has 
taken Emmanuel all over the world, yet she remains based in Willesden
 Green, London, in a flat she has lived in for two years with her sister. Coming 
from a tight knit family, she describes both her mum (a full-time
 carer to adults with special needs) and her sister (training to be a
 teacher) as her inspirations, visibly lighting up whenever she
 mentions them.

Jacket / 3.1 Phillip Lim
Boots / Nicolas Jebran
Dress, Trousers & Corset / THE ROW

They speak most days and both joined her for The
 Fate of the Furious premiere in New York earlier in April. “It makes me 
think that there is nothing that really that scares me enough to not
 do it because they are both just so fearless when it comes to 
achieving what they want.” 

We speak about formats, how TV affords you the luxury of time to 
really evolve your character but how with film you are more constrained, 
bringing with it a whole different set of challenges. Adoring of the 
theatre, she tells us she would love to go stage. As the interview comes to a close, she concludes: “I am not 
absolutist about anything; there is nothing I wouldn’t do.”

 It’s that easy curiosity and passion in the world around her that made – 
and will continue to make – Emmanuel so transformative on screen.

 and Furious: The Fate of the Furious is out now.

Words / Daisy Stenham
Follow her here.

This Schön online exclusive was produced by

Photography / Roch Armando
Fashion / Douglas VanLaningham @ PHOTOGENICS ARMY
Casting / Anissa Payne
Talent / Nathalie Emmanuel
Hair / Neeko
Make Up & Production / Mynxii White

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