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Michaela Coel’s HBO series I May Destroy you touched on her own experience of sexual assault.
In the series, Coel’s character Arabella experiences flashbacks from the night she was drugged and raped in a bathroom stall of a club. Arabella tries desperately to recollect the pieces from the night, which eventually leads to her tracking down her rapist.
“I know the show feels like in some way a risk, but maybe every show is like that,” Coel tells WSJ.
She also opened up how she was able to inject humor into such a traumatic experience: “There’s a strange line, isn’t there? And I don’t know where that line is. And I’m not looking for it. I think it’s just the mode that I write in. I’m sure there could have been a version of this series where it was so distasteful to…survivors of sexual assault.”
She continued, “But I wonder whether just having the personal experience of it means that you have a level of empathy but also a level of — I’m not here to just sit in an echo chamber listening to violin strings about my pain, because I need to move…I can’t just sit here.”
Despite being revered worldwide for her talents, Coel has been targeted by internet trolls who have nothing better to do with their time than to attack the way she looks. Coel keeps her interactions with social media trolls to a minimum.
“I don’t look anymore, because it doesn’t seem like a smart thing to do. Life is tricky enough navigating being a woman, being a Black woman, being a dark-skinned woman in England on television. It’s so hard.”