Michaela Coel Dedicates Emmys Win To Sexual Assault Survivors In Powerful Acceptance Speech
Coel makes history as the first Black woman to receive this award.
September 20, 2021 at 4:43 pm
British actress Michaela Coel made history at Sunday night's Emmys, becoming the first Black woman to win the award for Outstanding Writing for a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie for I May Destroy You.
The 33-year-old delivered a powerful speech and dedicated her victory to victims of sexual assault.
“Write the tale that scares you, that makes you feel uncertain, that isn’t comfortable,” the writer said. “I dare you, in a world that entices us to browse through the lives of others to help us better determine how we feel about ourselves, and to in turn feel the need to be constantly visible, for visibility these days seems to somehow equate to success."
"Do not be afraid to disappear from it, from us for a while, and see what comes to you in the silence,” added the BAFTA award winner. "I dedicate this story to every single survivor of sexual assault."
I May Destroy You follows an author struggling to piece together the details of the night she was sexually assaulted.
In an interview with CBC Radio, Coel recalls how she dealt with the aftermath of her sexual assault.
"I recall waiting for the detective to get my first witness statement. At that moment, where I was half processing that something very bad had happened to me and that the course of my life was about to shift, I looked at my friend who was taking care of me, and he was playing Pokémon Go on his phone," she said.
"And this was just so absurd that I thought, 'What on earth is going on?'" she says with a laugh. "And I wrote it down in my notes app on my phone. You almost want to bottle this very strange feeling and this sort of absurdity that was happening," the Emmy winner adds.
The HBO show pulls inspiration from the England native's experiences, as well as those of her friends.
"Once my friends knew I was writing a show, they began to share their experiences with me. And I began to realize that sexual assault was something so broad and something that so many people could identify with — which in one way is heartbreaking," she said.
In an interview with Vulture, the 33-year-old actress revealed she turned Netflix's $1 million offer down for the show's distribution because the streaming service wouldn't allow her to retain a percentage of the show's copyright. After attempting to renegotiate her contract, asking for at least five percent ownership, Coel said the senior-level Netflix executive responded with, "It's not how we do things here. Nobody does that; it's not a big deal."
After successfully pitching her series to the BBC with HBO joining as a co-producer, Coel's demands were met.
The Chewing Gum star is set to appear in the sequel to Black Panther, which will hit theaters in 2022.