Michaela Coel won an Emmy at Sunday night’s ceremony for her writing work on I May Destroy You. In the process of winning, she not only made history but delivered an acceptance speech that should also go down in the books.
Coel, 33, won the Emmy for Outstanding Writing for a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie for the HBO drama series focused on sexual assault and its aftermath. She is the first Black woman to win the Emmy for writing a limited series.
The British beauty was also the lead actress in the series.
Coel’s road to her first Emmy has been fraught with twists and turns. Netflix, which once carried Coel’s British comedy series Chewing Gum, offered her a $1 million purse for I May Destroy You when she first began pitching the series. She rejected that offer because they would not allow her to retain any percentage of the copyright.
She also fired her stateside agency after learning that they pushed her to take the bad deal, in part, because they were going to earn something from it themselves.
It turns out that she did the right thing. She ended up with a deal with a BBC producer who allowed her full rights and complete creative control.
In her acceptance speech, Coel, who has survived sexual assault, spoke both to writers and sexual assault survivors.
“I dedicate this story to every single survivor of sexual assault.” Michaela Coel took home a Best Writing Emmy for “I May Destroy You” – watch her acceptance speech here: https://t.co/483GlbBODe pic.twitter.com/4O2z3OuJQB
— IndieWire (@IndieWire) September 20, 2021
“Write the tale that scares you, that makes you feel uncertain, that is uncomfortable. 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,” Coel said.
She then dedicated her win to others who have been sexually assaulted.
Coel is the child of Ghanaian parents. She previously won a BAFTA for Chewing Gum.