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RTS Awards: Michaela Coel just made three incredibly powerful speeches

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Hollie Richardson
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Michaela Coel

Michaela Coel just won three RTS Awards for I May Destroy You, and the acceptance speeches she made for each one proved just how brilliant and powerful she is. 

Last night (Tuesday 16 March), Michaela Coel picked up three Royal Television Society Awards for her 2020 series I May Destroy You – and quite rightly so. 

I May Destroy You was a nuanced and sharp exploration of consent, race, sexuality, social media, dating and millennial life in the digital age. It was inspired by Coel’s own personal experience of being sexually assaulted.

The series was praised by both fans and critics, and there was an outcry when Coel was snubbed in the recent Golden Globes nominations. That’s why the RTS hattrick was so well deserved. 

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In true Coel style, the star shared three consecutive acceptance speeches over videocall – and each one had an incredibly powerful and timely message.

Responding to the award for her writing, Coel thanked “the pioneer of the #MeToo movement”, Tarana Burke, then continued: “Sexual assault is at the forefront of public discourse. I suspect her bravery and resilience may have contributed to the bravery and resilience I mustered to write these scripts, that broadcasters and producers mustered up to support me through an unusual and difficult process.”

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She added: “And finally, the bravery and resilience the audience gathered up to take in my show and take in their own lives in the process, gathering the shattered pieces of their own painful memories, placing the pieces together and finally recognising their own trauma.

“Writing is a form of communication and I am so thankful to feel your response, to know I have been seen and heard. Thank you.”

I May Destroy You
Michaela Coel in I May Destroy You.

Accepting the next award for acting, Coel said: “What a privilege it is the be on the same list as Glenda Jackson and Daisy Edgar-Jones. We are in solidarity and I hope to work with you one day. But I want to dedicate this award to the darker of our gender, Black women, whose mothers are currently four times more likely to die in childbirth or pregnancy, who live under particularly cruel scrutiny by the media sometimes simply for not being white, whose vulnerability and tenderness is often overlooked simply for not being white.

Coel thanked “Black women who were visible” and who she “saw on screen or on stage”, including Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Wunmi Mosaku and Sharon Duncan-Brewster. She explained that, without them: “I would not enjoy this privilege, this right, to dance, fuck, cry, rage in front of the camera without giving a shit. Thank you.”

And for the final award for best mini-series, which she didn’t realise she’d won, Coel said: “This is our award, this is our whole cast, this is the caterers, this is the people who drove us to work, the set designers, costume designers, my editing team, this is everybody.

“What I always say, especially when I get very drunk at wrap parties, I say and tell everybody that this is our baby and, although I wrote this thing, the DNA of every single person involved in the makin of this project is in the child, and this is our show. 

“I’m so thankful to you for replacing quite painful memories in my life with beautiful ones, and for being a fantastic telly family for two years.”

You can see the full list of RTS Awards winners here. 

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Images: Getty, BBC

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Hollie Richardson

Hollie is a digital writer at Stylist.co.uk, mainly covering the daily news on women’s issues, politics, celebrities and entertainment. She also keeps an ear out for the best podcast episodes to share with readers. Oh, and don’t even get her started on Outlander…