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Dedicating Her Emmy Win to Survivors of Sexual Abuse, Michaela Coel Awarded For Writing I May Destroy You

I May Destroy You (2020) Michaela Coel

After winning outstanding writing for a limited or anthology series or movie, Michaela Coel dedicated her award from crafting I May Destroy You to the survivors of sexual assault.

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In her speech, Coel stated, “Write the tales that scare you, that make you feel uncertain that isn’t comfortable. 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 main character Arabella (played by Coel), is a writer seeking to rebuild her life after being sexually assaulted. This drama did not just reach people because of Coel’s talent but also because she poured part of herself into the project. While working on her E4/Netflix hit Chewing Gum, Coel said that she experienced a similar story as what plays out in I May Destroy You.

The survivor who coined the phrase #MeToo, Tarana Burke, expressed support of Coel and her work.

And honestly, so did everyone else.

Not only did Coel star and write I May Destroy You, but she executive also produced and co-directed the BBC1/HBO drama.

This win was one of the few feel-good moments of the night. Despite the better representation of people of color in terms of nominations and presenters, it was very much lacking when it came to the actual awards. Debbie Allen became the first Black woman to win the Governer’s Award, RuPaul’s win in outstanding competition program made him the most-awarded Black artist in Emmys history, and Hamilton won for an outstanding pre-recorded variety special. Everything else was a sea of cis-white people, including all individual acting awards. We really only saw people of color winning consistently when they were in a group of writers or on SNL (both of which are overwhelmingly white.)

When one of the members of the Emmy’s team spoke about the diversity of storytelling, you could see the sweat dripping as he made sure to list all of the groups (race/ethnicity, LGBTQ+, etc.) that would present awards, host, be in skits and/or be nominated all while knowing they sure as hell would not win much.

Despite all the odds in subject matter and in who academies tend to award, Coel won out and made history doing it.


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Alyssa Shotwell
(she/her) Award-winning artist and writer with professional experience and education in graphic design, art history, and museum studies. She began her career in journalism in October 2017 when she joined her student newspaper as the Online Editor. This resident of the yeeHaw land spends most of her time drawing, reading and playing the same handful of video games—even as the playtime on Steam reaches the quadruple digits. Currently playing: Baldur's Gate 3 & Oxygen Not Included.

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