Michaela Coel dedicates I May Destroy You Emmy win to sexual assault survivors

·2-min read
Photo credit: CBS Photo Archive - Getty Images
Photo credit: CBS Photo Archive - Getty Images

At last night's (20 September) Emmy Awards, Micheala Coel won the Emmy for Outstanding Writing for a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie, for her series I May Destroy You. And, in a powerful acceptance speech, she dedicated the award to "every single survivor of sexual assault."

"Write the tale that scares you, that makes you feel uncertain, that makes you feel uncomfortable," she said as she accepted the award, "I dare you — in a world that entices us to browse through the lives of others to help us better determine how we feel about ourselves, and to in turn feel the need to be constantly visible, for visibility these days seems to somehow equate to success — do not be afraid to disappear from it, from us for a while, and see what comes to you in the silence."

The series beat other hit shows in the category, including HBO's Mare of Easttown, Netflix’s The Queen’s Gambit and Disney+ and Marvel’s Wandavision.

Photo credit: Getty Images
Photo credit: Getty Images

Coel created and starred in I May Destroy You, which is partly based on her own experience of sexual assault. The BBC/HBO series follows the story of a young female writer and explores consent in the aftermath of her rape.

In an interview with Elle, Coel revealed she had been sexually assaulted while creating her Channel 4 series, Chewing Gum. Speaking about her experience, she said: "I think [about] what happened to me. It’s really horrible and f*cked 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."

She continued, "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."

I May Destroy You received critical acclaim for its hard-hitting portrayal of sexual assault, and earned Coel multiple BAFTA awards, the Peabody Award and the Television Critics Association Award for Individual Achievement in Drama. But, fans of the show were disappointed when it was overlooked at this year's Golden Globes and Screen Actors Guild Awards.

As well as I May Destroy You and Chewing Gum, Michaela has starred in Black Mirror and Black Earth Rising. She has also been cast in the Black Panther sequel, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, which is due for release next year.

To get help with any of the issues discussed in this article, visit: Rape Crisis England & Wales, Rape Crisis Scotland, or The Rowan (for Northern Ireland). RASASC provides emotional and practical support for survivors, families and friends. For additional support with mental health, visit Mind.

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