With her natural vibe and easy attitude, the new face of Dolce & Gabbana's scent The One might be the coolest—and most candid—girl in the game. Here, she shares her beauty secrets.
What does beauty mean to you?
This is going to sound like the soppiest load of nonsense, but when you're happy, that's beauty. The ability to have a giggle and not take yourself too seriously. Being able to look in the mirror and be cool with who's looking back at you. Trying to be as genuine as you possibly can, including with what you put on your face. I love makeup, but suffocating my face with it just isn't my bag.
There's a confidence that comes with that approach. Would you say it took time for you to get there?
Hugely. I really struggled with my confidence growing up. I thought I was too fat. I thought I was ugly. I called myself the Cabbage Patch Kid. If a boy talked to me, I'd be shocked. But then there's a special moment that happens as a young adult when you start to find out who you are, what you like, how you take your coffee, the people who make you feel good and who you should be around. You begin to see beyond what your face or body looks like.
You've spent much of your career playing Khaleesi Daenerys Targaryen on Game of Thrones. In what ways are Khaleesi and Emilia different?
Emilia doesn't wash her hair as much. I feel bad when I meet people and they realize I'm Khaleesi, and they get disappointed because we look nothing alike. I'm like, "Sorry, that ain't really me! It's a wig." No human is that beautiful. Young people get this warped view of what beauty is because of the time, money, and effort that go into productions to make people look great. Yes, we need to watch these stories and be inspired, but it's important not to compare yourself. Because it's entirely make-believe.
Do you think social media also plays a part?
Yes, and it's killing me. These stupid apps that make you look thinner and airbrushed—why make it harder for everyone? There's no caption that says, "FYI, I'm sucking in my tummy, and this is my 17th version of this picture." We've all done it, but I think we should shine more brightness on brains and character.
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Your mother worked in beauty PR when you were younger. What did she teach you?
Cleanse and moisturize; she schooled me in that since age 12. And when I got a bit older and wanted to wear makeup, she taught me how to do the no-makeup makeup look—putting a little eyeliner only in the lash line, along with a bit of mascara and lip tint.
What's your go-to look now?
I usually keep it super natural. But if all else fails and I need to pull myself together because my friends are like, "You can't bail on us tonight, you bailed last night," I do red lipstick. Every woman needs a good red. It makes you feel strong and fierce, and you can literally have nothing else on your face besides mascara and blush.
You're the new face of Dolce & Gabbana The One. What do you like about the scent?
It's not too girlie, it's got earthy notes, and there's a richness that doesn't make you choke. It's one of those scents that you're gonna leave on his pillow. And, well, that's important.