Michaela Coel wins Emmy for ‘I May Destroy You’: ‘Write the tale that scares you’

The writer/actress/producer/director dedicated the award to all survivors of sexual assault

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Even though the 2021 Emmys were quite light on Black winners, Michaela Coel took home the trophy for Outstanding Writing for a Limited Series for her HBO series, I May Destroy You. Coel is the first Black woman in Emmy history to win in the category.

When the writer/actress/producer/director hit the stage to claim her prize, she delivered an inspiring speech and dedicated her award to all survivors of sexual assault.

“I just wrote a little something for writers,” she said while looking lovely in a two-piece, neon yellow, Christopher John Roger gown with a 6-foot bow.

73rd Primetime Emmy Awards - Arrivals
Michaela Coel attends the 73rd Primetime Emmy Awards on Sept. 19, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Rich Fury/Getty Images)

“Write the tale that scares you, that makes you feel uncertain, that isn’t comfortable. I dare you,” she said. “In a world that entices us to browse through 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.”

“I dedicate this story to every single survivor of sexual assault.”

I May Destroy You was nominated for nine Emmys, including Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited or Anthology Series and Outstanding Limited or Anthology Series, among others. Coel created and starred in the 12-episode series that examined the repercussions of sexual assault in a way we’ve never seen before.

The series took home two BAFTA awards, Best Mini-Series and Best Leading Actress, earlier this year. In that awards speech, Coel dedicated the win to the series’ intimacy director, Ita O’Brien

“Thank you for your existence in our industry,” Coel said to O’Brien, “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.”

Coel also used the time to speak to the importance of intimacy directors in general on set to help everyone involved in a production feel safe and comfortable.

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

Despite the show’s success, Coel has told viewers they shouldn’t hold their breath for a season two.

“Definitely, there won’t be a second season of I May Destroy You,” she shared in the post-BAFTA press conference. “I think I May Destroy You has been so huge it’s destroyed itself, but you know, we continue making work and we do other things.”

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