Trigger Warning: this article deals with sexual assault and may be triggering to some readers.
When Michaela Coel wrote and released the harrowing miniseries I May Destroy You, the narrative was enough to leave any and every watcher speechless.
As her incredible work is recognised at the prestigious Primetime Emmy Awards, she’s done the exact same thing again.
The talented writer won the Emmy Award for a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie, and as she accepted the grand honour she delivered a short, sharp and brilliantly powerful speech—enough to silence the whole room.
Addressing the audience with some words of advice after accepting the award, she began: “Write the tale that scares you, that makes you feel uncertain, that isn’t comfortable. I dare you.”
She continued: “In a world that entices us to browse 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.”
She ended the speech with a single powerful dedication: “I dedicate this story to every single survivor of sexual assault.”
In case you haven’t yet seen it, Coel wrote, produced and starred in the award-winning miniseries, I May Destroy You.
The narrative follows the main character Arabella (played by Coel herself), a writer living in the London. On a night out with friends, she is sexually assaulted in a nightclub toilet. In the aftermath, her life is flipped upside down as she processes what happened, and the harrowing challenges that come next.
After its release, the series received widespread acclaim, with some likening it to an accurate depiction of the very stories the Me Too Movement brings awareness and fights for justice for.
Coel’s Emmy Award, and her stirring speech, are just one small part of her own incredible narrative. The series itself was based on a real life story, one that happened to Coel. Though the show’s depiction via the main character Arabella focusses more on how she processed what happened—shining a light on the devastating and long-term effects survivors of sexual assault often experience.
With words like Coels that stay with us, we can only hope it reaches the ears of those who most need to hear it: “See what comes to you in the silence.”