Michaela Coel

Bafta TV awards 2021: Michaela Coel shares her “internal devastation” in searing Baftas speech

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“I know what it is like to shoot without an intimacy director,” says I May Destroy You star Michaela Coel.

I May Destroy You may have been snubbed at the Golden Globes, but the BBC drama was the crowning glory of this year’s Bafta TV Awards.

Shortly after collecting the gong for Best Mini-Series, Michaela Coel – who created, wrote, co-directed and executive produced the series – was named Best Leading Actress. 

And, stepping up to claim her second award of the night, she made sure to use her time in the spotlight to urge the industry to do more to keep people safe on set.

Dedicating her win to Ita O’Brien, Coel thanked the intimacy coordinator for her work and “making the space safe… so we can make work about exploitation, loss of respect, abuse of power, without being exploited or abused in the process.”

She continued: “Thank you for your existence in our industry, for making the space safe, for creating physical, emotional and professional boundaries so that we can make work about exploitation, loss of respect, about abuse of power without being exploited or abused in the process.”

Michaela Coel
Bafta TV awards 2021 red carpet: Michaela Coel.

Powerfully, Coel added: “I know what it is like to shoot without an intimacy director. The messy, embarrassing feeling for the crew. The internal devastation for the actor.

“Your direction was essential to my show and I believe essential for every production company that wants to make work exploring themes of consent.”

The Bafta ceremony comes just weeks after Coel offered her support to the 20 women that came forward and alleged that actor and producer Noel Clarke had harassed or abused them.

“Speaking out about these incidents takes a lot of strength because some call them ‘grey areas’. They are however far from grey,” she tweeted.

“These behaviours are unprofessional, violent and can destroy a person’s perception of themselves, their place in the world and their career irreparably. I have shared to show solidarity, to express my belief in them and to stand with them in their indignation.”

You can read her statement below in full:

It is worth noting that Clarke vehemently denies the claims made against him.

If you have been affected by this story, or would like more information or support, please visit Rape Crisis UK – or, alternatively, call 0808 802 9999 (usual opening times are noon - 2.30pm and 7 - 9.30pm any day of the year and also between 3 - 5.30pm on weekdays).

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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is Stylist’s digital editor-at-large. Her specialist topics include comic books, films, TV and feminism. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends.

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