House of the Dragon star Emma D’Arcy explains why ‘clothes are armour’ for non-binary people’

Emma D'Arcy

House of the Dragon actor and Golden Globe nominee Emma D’Arcy has explained why clothes are “essential” for trans and non-binary people in terms of how they identify themselves. 

D’Arcy, who is non-binary and uses they/them pronouns, opened up about their experience of using “clothes as armour” in a first-person interview with Highsnobriety Magazine.

“Clothing, for most people, is central to who they are and how they express themselves. But for gender-fluid or trans people, clothes play an even more fundamental role,” they began.

“I’m a trans-masc presenting person, and broadly, my instinct is to wear rigid shapes softly. I used to be more into texture, but now I’m gradually getting more into bright colours.

“Clothes are armour for me,” the 30-year-old continued. “They’re essential to who I am, and I feel different in different outfits.”

Outfits are a very tangible way to control how people see you. It’s related to why I dyed my hair bright red a little while ago. I didn’t really recognise myself at first – I felt new, and it was bliss.”

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D’Arcy, who plays female character Rhaenyra Targaryen in the HBO hit and Game of Thrones prequel House of the Dragon, also opened up about how they are impacted by having to dress in a more feminine-presenting way in the role.

“Rhaenyra and the many skirts I have to wear to play that character, makes me want to dress more masculine,” they explained.

It’s not the first time the actor has shared their thoughts on what it’s like to play feminine roles as a non-binary actor.

Speaking to The Independent in 2022, Emma D’Arcy explained that their gender identity doesn’t limit the roles they take on.

“I really like playing women and I’m really good at it … my worst-case scenario is that suddenly people tell me what I can and can’t play,” they shared.

“I have all the tools necessary to play women. I lived as one for a long time; people still think I am one. It’s like, ‘let me do my job; I’m really good at it’.”

While D’Arcy is more than happy to take on female-presenting characters, they themselves have had to battle to succeed in an industry that has been typically ignorant of non-binary actors.

Speaking to E! News ahead of the Golden Globes back in January, the actor shared that they initially felt the “unsustainable” pressure to present as a woman.

“When I was starting out, I really felt that I had to present as a woman in order to find success in this industry,” they said.

“It wasn’t sustainable, and I stopped pretending. And weirdly at that point, I got nominated for Best Actress for the Golden Globes, which is beautifully ironic.”

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