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British actress and screenwriter Michaela Coel’s critically acclaimed HBO series, “I May Destroy You,” was based on her own experience of sexual assault.
The series is about a rising author named Arabella, who is forced to retrace her steps the night she was sexually assaulted in a club to identify her attacker.
“I think [about] what happened to me,” she says to Elle. “It’s really horrible and f—ked up, and to automatically feel angry, sad, revengeful, those are good things. And then your final destination is empathy. But then there’s also things like the law and we need both of those things.”
Coel adds, “I think the cycle of grief has to be ridden all the way around. It’s easy to remain in a place of anger, sadness or shock.”
Following the success of her “Chewing Gum” series, Coel has become one of the most respected creators in the entertainment industry. However, she says fame does not mean that all of her problems automatically disappear.
Coel says she was reminded of this during a recent trip abroad.
“I am a Black woman and that will always be true. And, for me, there is nothing like going to a different country where nobody knows me and experiencing the way security guards follow me around the pharmacy or grocery shop,” she says.
A familiar tale.
“The dirty looks I receive, the fact that cars don’t want to stop on a zebra crossing. All these things reinstall that I am a Black woman,” she said. “I’m really lucky that there are places where I’m not known and so it allows me to still experience it.”
Next week, Coel releases her debut book, “Misfits: A Personal Manifesto.”
The synopsis reads in part:
“With inspiring insight and wit, Coel lays bare her journey so far and invites us to reflect on our own. By embracing our differences, she says, we can transform our lives. An artist to her core, Coel holds up the path of the creative as an emblem of our need to regard one another with care and respect—and transparency.”
“Misfits: A Personal Manifesto” is out Sept. 7, 2021.