UK’s Leading Drama School Apologizes to Michaela Coel for ‘Unacceptable’ Racism

by Shine My Crown Staff
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The Guildhall School of Music and Drama, one of the U.K’s top drama schools, has apologized to former student Michaela Coel for the racism she received while attending the prestigious academy.

Paapa Essiedu, who co-wrote and starred alongside in “I May Destroy You,” also received an apology.

Speaking to The Guardian, Essiedu disclosed that he and Coel were in an improvisation class together. The teacher was portraying a prison officer searching for drugs and called him a racial slur.

Guildhall is ranked as one of the top ten performing arts institutions in the world.

“Suddenly she shouted: ‘Hey you, N-word, what have you got behind you?.’ That was a real ‘time stops’ moment. It was like, surely this can’t be happening,” adding that he and Coel “were so shocked we just stayed in the improvisation, so we were like: ‘No, we haven’t got anything behind us.’ We were shellshocked by what had happened and shocked that it had come out of the mouth of a teacher.”

The incident was first raised by Coel in 2018.

“I was called a [N-word] twice in drama school. The first was by a teacher during a ‘walk in the space’ improvisation that had nothing to do with race. ‘Oi, [N-word], what you got for me?’ We students continued walking in the space, the two Black boys and I glancing at each other whenever we passed. ‘Who’s she talking to?’ we’d whisper. ‘Boy, not me.’ ‘Nah that was for you.’ Passing around responsibility like a hot potato, muffling our laugh-snorts. I wonder what the other students thought of our complicity,” she said during her MacTaggart lecture at the Edinburgh TV Festival.

You can read Guildhall’s apology below:

“Guildhall School apologises unreservedly for the racism experienced by Paapa Essiedu, Michaela Coel and other alumni whilst they were studying at the school. The experiences he shares were appalling and unacceptable,” a spokesperson told the publication.

“We have since undertaken a sustained programme of action to address and dismantle longstanding systemic racism within the acting programme, including commissioning an external report into historic racism and a comprehensive and ongoing process of staff training and reflection.”

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