Chewing Gum creator Michaela Coel recently opened up about being sexually assaulted during the production of her award-winning comedy, yet she still felt the pressure to complete the series. Th 30-year-old British actress revealed the experience on Wednesday while giving the prestigious James MacTaggart Memorial Lecture at the Edinburgh International TV Festival. The screenwriter, who is set to write and star in a new series centered on sexual consent called Jan 22nd, described how she had been working overnight on a script for season two of her show before heading out to meet a friend for a drink. “I had an episode due at 7 a.m. I took a break and had a drink with a good friend who was nearby,” she said, according to Deadline. Coel remembered waking up hours later at the office, and something didn’t feel right: “I emerged into consciousness typing season two, many hours later.”
“I was lucky,” she recalled. “I had a flashback. It turned out I’d been sexually assaulted by strangers. The first people I called after the police, before my own family, were the producers.” Coel then talked about watching the production company struggle with how to handle the situation, describing them as “teetering back and forth between the line of knowing what normal human empathy is and not knowing what empathy is at all.” Eventually, the production company agreed to pay for her therapy sessions. Coel also asked for a deadline extension — as she’s the show’s sole writer unlike many other series who utilize a room of writers — and for the channel’s head to know the reason for the extension, but he was never told.

Chewing Gum creator Michaela Coel is to give the prestigious MacTaggart lecture at this year’s Edinburgh International Television Festival – becoming only the fifth woman in its 42-year history. * * * Coel, who is represented by Troika, has used recent speeches to encourage broadcasters and producers to do more for diversity. At the @wftv_uk in 2016 she said: “It’s for women who just by being darker than a paper bag or raised in low income homes are from birth statistically less likely to even hear about the opportunities and chances, that others in the world, and in our industry, feel a natural entitlement to.” * * * She said that she was “overjoyed” to accept the invitation. “It seems in some way a celebration of the rapidly changing world we live in. But with the constant reshaping of our technological and political world, comes a growing need to shine a light and be vigilant rather than complacent about the future of our industry. I feel honoured to contribute to this debate on such a prestigious stage.” * * * Phil Edgar Jones, Director of Sky Arts & Head of Entertainment, Sky, who is Advisory Chair of this year’s event, said, “Michaela embodies everything we want the festival to be about this year – the future, the creative voice and, above all, optimism. As one of the UK’s leading young writer-performers, she speaks directly to the next generation of talent coming through the ranks and has something to teach the TV ‘establishment’ too. We are thrilled she’ll be delivering the MacTaggart and I am very much looking forward to hearing her unique take on the industry and beyond.” * * * * Festival Director Lisa Campbell added: “Michaela is a hugely inspiring figure who has achieved so much in such a short time. With her distinctive voice, attitude and ambition this promises to be a ground-breaking and enlivening speech that will offer a completely different perspective. Our Talent Schemes delegates voted her as the person who has most inspired them to work in television, and Iike them, I can’t wait to hear the passionate and agenda-setting speech she’s set to deliver.” Also the youngest and the first non-white to give this lecture. Oh my!💪🏿

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“Like any other experience I’ve found traumatic, it’s been therapeutic to write about it, and actively twist a narrative of pain into one of hope, and even humor,” she told the audience. “And be able to share it with you, as part of a fictional drama on television, because I think transparency helps.” It was announced back in August 2017 that Coel had no plans to write a season three of Chewing Gum. The star’s rep told The Fader, “Michaela is not currently writing a third series of Chewing Gum as she is focusing on some other projects, but is not closing the door to the possibility in the future.”

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