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Michaela Coel Reflects on "Incredible" Journey to Emmys With Former Classmate and Co-Star Paapa Essiedu

Michaela Coel went for it at the 2021 Emmy Awards, rocking a lime green ensemble by Christopher John Rogers, while she praised co-star Paapa Essiedu's performance in I May Destroy You.

By Lindsay Weinberg Sep 20, 2021 12:38 AMTags
Watch: Michaela Coel Will Be "So Happy" If Paapa Essiedu Wins at 2021 Emmys

Michaela Coel just destroyed her first Emmy Awards red carpet.

The actress and writer did not come to play in a neon green lewk from Christopher John Rogers on Sunday, Sept. 19. Christopher called her "My personal ICON" as he dressed her in a Sulphur bralette and column skirt with a draped silk bow.

"He smashed it," Michaela told Karamo on E! Live from the Red Carpet, explaining that she "fell in love" with the sketch. "It's incredible," Michaela gushed of the final look, completed with a bow and train and matching highlighter pumps. 

The I May Destroy You star said she's "overwhelmed with gratitude" to be at the ceremony. "If I think about it too much, I get emotional. I means a lot to be heard and listened to so attentively. I'm very grateful," she shared.

It's especially "incredible" and meaningful for her to be nominated for the first time alongside co-star Paapa Essiedu, whom she's known for about 12 years. 

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2021 Emmys: Best Dressed Stars

"We went to drama school together. I'm so proud of him," Michaela said. "I'm so happy that we got to work together and more so than myself, if he wins, I will be so happy."

Rich Fury/Getty Images

He's up for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie. Michaela is also a first-time Emmy nominee this year, earning four nominations for I May Destroy You. She's up in the categories of Outstanding Writing for a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie, Outstanding Limited or Anthology Series, Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie and Outstanding Directing for a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie.

She created the award-worthy HBO series last year, based in part on her own experience as a survivor of sexual assault. Michaela spent two and a half years writing the series and told Radio 1 Newsbeat that it was "quite hard, but cathartic because I'm reflecting on a dark time rather than feeling it is happening to me right now."

Fans will also recognized the 33-year-old actress from Chewing GumBlack Earth Rising and Black Mirror.

When asked why it's important to her to infuse her culture in her work, Michaela told E!, "If we don't tell our stories, our narratives and our lives are erased because no one else is going to tell them for us."

Rich Fury/Getty Images

Tonight, Michaela is competing against pal Cynthia Erivo (Genius: Aretha) in the acting category, along with Kate Winslet (Mare Of Easttown), Anya Taylor-Joy (The Queen's Gambit) and Elizabeth Olsen (WandaVision). Cynthia told Karamo that she and Michaela spent the day before the Emmy Awards running a half marathon, because they're "fitness fanatics."

As Cynthia shared, "She and I have known each other for a very long time. And to see her shining like this, in the way I always knew she could, is unbelievable. And to share the night with her like this is also unbelievable. We've come a long way."

The Emmy Awards, hosted by Cedric the Entertainer, airs on CBS.

Visit E!'s 2021 Emmy Awards page for a recap of TV's biggest night.