Michaela Coel Pays Tribute To Sexual Intimacy Co-Ordinator In Powerful BAFTA Speech

·2-min read
Photo credit: Scott Garfitt/Shutterstock for BAFTA
Photo credit: Scott Garfitt/Shutterstock for BAFTA

Five years after winning her first BAFTA, Michaela Coel has won two more and delivered yet another inspiring speech at the annual British Academy Television Awards ceremony.

2021's socially distanced ceremony was held at the Television Centre in London and hosted by Richard Ayoade. Coel attended, wearing a custom Maximillian black column dress with red sleeves and an open back, which she paired with a Simone Rocha egg bag and Alighieri jewellery.

Coel was recognised for her creation of and performance in the 2020 groundbreaking consent drama I May Destroy You, based on Coel's personal harrowing experience of sexual assault.

The drama was critically-acclaimed and lauded by viewers for its exploration of traditionally 'taboo' or 'uncomfortable' themes, it's representation of gender, race and sexuality, its realistic portrayals of sex and acknowledgement of the different layers of consent.

It was this last point on which Coel chose to dwell in her victory speech, after being awarded the Leading Actress BAFTA and seeing off competition from Daisy Edgar-Jones, Billie Piper, Letitia Wright, Jodie Comer and Hayley Squires.

After paying tribute to her fellow nominees, Coel dedicated the award to Ita O'Brien, the revolutionary intimacy co-ordinator who worked on I May Destroy You (she also worked on choreographing, supervising and collaborating with actors during sex scenes on Normal People and Sex Education too).

'Thank you for your existence in our industry, for making the space safe, for creating physical, emotional and professional boundaries so that we can make work about exploitation, loss of respect and abuse of power without being exploited or abuse in the process,' said Coel.

'I know what it's like to shoot without an intimacy co-ordinator, the messy, embarrassing feeling for the crew, the internal devastation for the actor. Your direction was essential to my show and I believe essential for every production company who wants to make work exploring themes of consent.'

Photo credit: David M. Benett - Getty Images
Photo credit: David M. Benett - Getty Images

Coel also took away the awards for Best Miniseries, Director - Fiction, Editing - Fiction and Writer- Fiction at the 2021 ceremony. Coel last won a BAFTA in 2016 when she walked away with the Breakthrough Talent and Best Female Comedy Performance for Chewing Gum.

This year, that award was won by Sex Education's Aimee Lou Wood. Elsewhere at the 2021 awards, the Leading Actor prize was won by Normal People's Paul Mescal who paid tribute to his co-star Daisy Edgar-Jones in his moving acceptance speech. Malachi Kirby won the Supporting Actor award for his role in Steve McQueen's Small Axe series while Rakie Ayola won the Supporting Actress award for Anthony.

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