By Shirley Li
June 29, 2017 at 01:26 PM EDT

Throughout Game of Thrones, Daenerys, the Mother of Dragons, Breaker of Chains, and Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, has learned a thing or two about being a woman in a man’s world — and so has Emilia Clarke, after seven seasons of playing the character.

In a new interview with Rolling Stone, the British actress explains that she’s grown more aware of inequality around her at home and on set, thanks to her time as Daenerys and life in a post-Brexit world.

“I feel so naive for saying it, but it’s like dealing with racism,” she says. “You’re aware of it, and you’re aware of it, but one day, you go, ‘Oh, my God, it’s everywhere!’ Like you suddenly wake up to it and you go, ‘Wait a f—ing second, are you… are you treating me different because I’ve got a pair of tits? Is that actually happening?’ It took me a really long time to see that I do get treated differently. But I look around, and that’s my daily life.”

The realization has worked both ways for Clarke and her small-screen counterpart. While speaking with EW sister site Time for its cover story on the HBO drama, the star said her experiences with inequality helped her channel Daenerys’ fiery character on screen.

“On a personal note, I spent my life with a very, very strong mum, working mum, feminist mum, wore the trousers, brought home the bacon,” she says. “But I never heard the word ‘feminist.’ Never was I told ‘It’s going to be tough out there because you’re a girl.’ So it was never that I ever saw that there was an inequality between men and women. And it’s only as I’ve got older, being in the industry, that I say, ‘Huh! Why are you talking to me funny? Why are you treating me differently?’ And that’s fueled Daenerys for me.”

Game of Thrones returns July 16 on HBO.

Episode Recaps


Game of Thrones

HBO's epic fantasy drama based on George R.R. Martin's novel series 'A Song of Ice and Fire.'

  • TV Show
  • 8
  • 73
  • TV-MA
  • David Benioff
  • D.B. Weiss
  • HBO
stream service