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Michaela Coel delivers powerful Emmys speech for I May Destroy You: ‘Write the tale that scares you’

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Michaela Coel spoke directly to screenplay writers while accepting the 2021 Emmy for Best Writing for the critically-acclaimed BBC/HBO limited series I May Destroy You.

In a 48-second speech, Coel encouraged writers to wade through murky waters in search of their truth, and sit comfortably with discomfort.

She also dedicated her win to victims of sexual assault across the world.

“Write the tale that scares you, that makes you feel uncertain, that isn’t comfortable,” the 33-year-old actor and writer said.

She added: “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.”

I May Destroy You follows a young British writer (played by Coel) grappling with questions of identity and consent, in the aftermath of her rape. Besides writing, co-directing and starring in I May Destroy You, Coel was also executive producer for the show, which is loosely based on her own experiences.

Coel had previously revealed she was assaulted while creating her Channel 4 series Chewing Gum. In an interview last year, she told ELLE UK that she still struggles to process what happened to her.

In that interview, Coel also discussed forgiveness, empathy and a legal system that empowers victims.

​​“I think [about] what happened to me. It’s really horrible and f***ed up, and to automatically feel angry, sad, revengeful, those are good things,” she had said. “And I think the final is empathy. But then there’s also things like the law and we need both of those things.”

Earlier this year, Coel announced that she had been cast in the 2018 Black Panther sequel, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. The Ryan Coogler film is set to release next year.

If you have been raped or sexually assaulted, you can contact your nearest Rape Crisis organisation for specialist, independent and confidential support. For more information, visit their website here.

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