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British screenwriter and actress Michaela Coel recently revealed that she was once offered $1 million from Netflix for her new television series, I May Destroy you — but she turned the offer down over an ownership dispute.
During an interview with Vulture, Coel says she tried negotiating with “a senior-level development executive at Netflix” in order to retain “at least 5 percent of the copyright.”
But Netflix would not compromise.
“There was just silence on the phone. And she said, ‘It’s not how we do things here. Nobody does that, it’s not a big deal.’ I said, ‘If it’s not a big deal, then I’d really like to have 5 percent of my rights.’ ”
Coel continued on with the negotiations, even asking for just 0.5 percent of the copyright. The unnamed Netflix executive said she would have to run it by the higher-ups, telling Coel, “Michaela? I just want you to know I’m really proud of you. You’re doing the right thing.”
“I remember thinking, I’ve been going down rabbit holes in my head, like people thinking I’m paranoid, I’m acting sketchy, I’m killing off all my agents,” Coel said. “And then she said those words to me, and I finally realized — I’m not crazy. This is crazy.”
I May Destroy You tells the story of published author Arabella (played by Coel Coel), a carefree, self-assured Londoner whose world turns upside down when her drink is spiked during a night out with friends. Arabella works hard to put the pieces of that night (and of her life) back together while desperately trying to figure out in her life who she can still trust.
The series, loosely based on her own experience of sexual assault, has been revered by viewers and critics alike.