On Sept. 19, the HBO series' creator and star Michaela Coel picked up the trophy for Outstanding Writing for a Limited Series. I May Destroy You centers on a TV writer named Arabella Essiedu (Michaela) who struggles with moving forward in her life after she is drugged and raped.
In 2018, Michaela delivered a lecture at the Edinburgh International Television Festival and shared that she is a real-life survivor of sexual assault. She described a time when she regained consciousness and realized she had been raped while finishing an assignment as a writer on her series Chewing Gum, which helped inspire her newest show's story line.
"I was working overnight in the company's offices," recalled the 33-year-old performer, who is nominated for both her acting and writing on I May Destroy You. "I had an episode due at 7 a.m. I took a break and had a drink with a good friend who was nearby. I emerged into consciousness typing season two, many hours later. I was lucky—I had a flashback. It turned out I had been sexually assaulted by strangers."
Michaela explained that she immediately informed Chewing Gum's producers, and some of them appeared at times to "not know what empathy is at all." She continued, "When there are police involved and footage of people carrying your writer into dangerous places, when cuts are found, when there's blood—what is your job?"
Last year, she told Radio 1 Newsbeat it took her two and a half years to write the 12-episode series. "It's been quite hard, but cathartic because I'm reflecting on a dark time rather than feeling it is happening to me right now," she said at the time.
Ultimately, her goal with the series was to provide a sense of community for other survivors. "Part of my heart hopes that people who have had experiences that are traumatic watch this and feel less alone," Michaela told Screen Daily.
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