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Michaela Coel is overwhelmed by the success of her critically acclaimed HBO series, I May Destroy You — confessing that she’s even broken down in tears during interviews.
“Yeah, I think I half processed it a little bit via a couple of these articles, and something in seeing a journalist’s perspective allows me to process it a little bit,” she says when asked about the show’s reception. “I’ve actually cried [in interviews], because it’s quite overwhelming, especially when you’re working so hard that you don’t often reflect and process. We finished postproduction only really two weeks ago, so I’ve just finished working, so I haven’t really yet had time to really process anything.”
I May Destroy You tells the story of published author Arabella (played by Coel Coel), a carefree, self-confident Londoner whose world turns upside down when her drink is spiked during a chaotic night out with friends. Arabella works hard to put the pieces of that night (and of her life) back together while frantically trying to work out who in her life who she can still trust.
The series is loosely based on her own experience of sexual assault. Coel says her friends and family have remained fairly quiet about her using her own experience for the new show.
“You know, nobody really said anything. And I think that’s because they weren’t sure about whether it was a good idea. But you can’t really say to somebody, “This isn’t a good idea.” There were probably preconceptions of what the show would be because I’m going to write a show about being sexually assaulted, and you can imagine what that would be. But only I know what it will be. So I think there was a lot of careful silence,” she says.