Michaela Coel recently announced her new show with BBC Two called Jan 22nd, which will explore love, relationships, dating and consent. The topic of consent is personal to Coel, as the Chewing Gum creator recently revealed a heartbreaking story of her own involving a sexual assault while writing season two of the popular comedy series.
“I was working overnight in the company’s offices; I had an episode due at 7 a.m.,” Coel told the audience during this year's Edinburgh International Television Festival lecture, Vulture reports. “I took a break and had a drink with a good friend who was nearby. I emerged into consciousness typing season two, many hours later. I was lucky. I had a flashback. It turned out I’d been sexually assaulted by strangers. The first people I called after the police, before my own family, were the producers.”
Coel confirmed the assault did not involve an employee or anyone at the production offices of at Retort, which is the home for FreemantleMedia UK's scripted comedy.
Coel also opened up about the production offices treatment of her following her assault.
“Overnight, I saw them morph into an anxious team of employers and employees alike; teetering back and forth between the line of knowing what normal human empathy is and not knowing what empathy is at all,” she said. “When there are police involved, and footage, of people carrying your sleeping writer into dangerous places, when cuts are found, when there’s blood … what is your job?”
Coel also spoke about the casual sexual harassment and racism she has experienced while working in television, The Guardian reports.
The artist told the story of how she met a big name producer at a party who greeted her by saying, "Do you know how much I want to f**k you right now?" She said her date to the party later told her the very same man called him a "n****r."
Coel said that she will no longer be silent about sexual assault, particularly within her industry, and called on her colleagues to join her cause. "I’m going to try to be my best, to be transparent and to play whatever part I can, to help fix this house. What part will you play?”
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