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20th Sep 2021

Michaela Coel’s sexual assault speech at the Emmys is a must watch

Sarah McKenna Barry

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

Last night saw British writer and actor Michaela Coel pick up her first ever Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for her drama I May Destroy You.

The BBC One/HBO series sees Coel play Arabella, a young writer as she navigates life after being raped. The TV show is based on her own experiences.

In her speech, Coel said that I May Destroy You is dedicated to “every single survivor or sexual assault”.

She said: “Write the tale that scares you. That makes you feel uncertain. That isn’t comfortable. I dare you.”

Coel continued: “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.”

She concluded her speech by saying: “I dedicate this story to every single survivor of sexual assault.”

In the past, Coel has addressed I May Destroy You’s subject matter.

In an interview with PEOPLE in 2020, she said: “I really don’t know if the show is trying to answer a question about rape or get people to ask a question about rape. I’m definitely showing it, and I guess I’m asking us to think about it.”

She continued: “I’m wanting the audience to think and actually think beyond the act of rape. As you go forward in the series, you’ll realize there is a lot more going on.

“I’m just constantly asking the audience to have introspection to think and try being curious beyond our own understanding.”

If you have been affected by any of the details of this article, you can contact Women’s Aid’s 24 hour helpline on 1800 341 900 and the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre on  1800 77 8888.