Michaela Coel is a contemporary British icon, making a name for herself with the comedy series Chewing Gum and the compelling drama, I May Destroy You. Due to also appear in the sequel to Marvel’s Black Panther in 2022, Coel has recently revealed that she rejected a $1million deal with Netflix because it “exploited” her.
Stating that the streaming giant offered her a large sum of money for I May Destroy You, Coel elaborated on her experience on BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour, with host Emma Barnett. “You did turn down a million dollars from Netflix for I May Destroy You because you weren’t allowed to own the copyright and you kept asking questions…do you think you were judged because you were a woman?” Barnett asked Michaela Coel. “I don’t remember feeling like people found me difficult, I remember feeling like people found me disturbed,” Coel responded.
“It was like, ‘She’s a crazy woman…,’ to the point that I started to think I was crazy or unnecessarily paranoid,” she continued, highlighting the sexism that still underlines the film and television industry.
She added, “It’s hard to say to people trust your gut or instinct…but that’s what I did in that situation, I’m glad I did because in the end, I wasn’t a crazy woman who was acting wild and disturbed and unhinged, I was right to observe the industry and observe there was a lack of transparency because there was an exploitation occurring”.
Continuing in her speech on the radio programme, Coel explains, “If I didn’t press on…I wouldn’t have got to that truth and I wouldn’t have ended up saying no to being exploited and having the space to say yes to employers who were not exploiting me, who were willing to collaborate with me and listen to me and treat me as an equal”.
Whilst I May Destroy You won’t be back for a second season anytime soon, you can be sure Michaela Coel’s compelling voice in the industry is here to stay.