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Emma D’Arcy: Being a non-binary person and playing Rhaenyra in ‘House of the Dragon’

In ‘House of the Dragon,’ Emma D’Arcy is the heir to the Targaryen throne. In real life, she talks about her gender identity and her talent for playing female characters.

As of the sixth episode of HBO’s House of the Dragon, we saw the transition of two key characters in the series: Alicent Hightower and Rhaenyra Targaryen. The former went from being played by Emily Carey to Olivia Cooke, while the latter switched from Milly Alcock to Emma D’Arcy. The latter is one of the first non-binary people to star in a production of this magnitude, and from the beginning, she has spoken openly about her gender identity and the questioning she receives about it.

In an interview with The Independent, D’Arcy spoke about accepting the role of a woman: “I really like playing women and I’m very good at it,” she said. “For me, the worst-case scenario would be for people to suddenly tell me what I can and can’t play.” And the fact is that gender identity does not determine or limit a person’s talent, much less the roles they can play in a fictional series.

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“I have all the tools I need to play women,” they explain. “I lived as one for so long, people still think I am. It’s like, ‘let me do my job, I have a talent for that.”

On the other hand, she told The Hollywood Reporter that being a non-binary person has also helped her understand the character of Rhaenyra. In House of the Dragon, the King’s firstborn confronts a world that deems women unfit to rule and places patriarchal expectations on them (it’s so much like real life), and it’s something she identifies with:

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“Rhaenyra has a constant battle with what it means to be a woman and is a fundamental outsider,” she explains about her character. “She’s terrified of being pigeonholed into motherhood and is aware of how her position might be different if she were a man. I’m a non-binary person. I’ve always been both attracted to and repelled by male and female identities, and I think that’s shown in an authentic way here. She can’t attend court as easily as other people.”

The first season of House of the Dragon is approaching its big finale, where we will find out what will be the fate of House Targaryen, who will occupy the Iron Throne, and, much more importantly, what will happen with the relationship between Alicent and Rhaenyra.

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Story originally published in Spanish in Cultura Colectiva

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