Following the incalculable success of I May Destroy You, the show’s creator, director, and star somehow managed to one-up her own genius at the 2021 Emmys. Upon winning for Outstanding Writing for a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie, Michael Coel took the podium and delivered a stirring speech about vulnerability and visibility.
“Write the tale that scares you, that makes you feel uncertain, that makes you feel uncomfortable. I dare you,” she said, addressing other writers. “In a world that entices us to browse through the lives of others to better determine how we feel about ourselves. And in turn to feel the need to be constantly visible, for visibility 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 then dedicated the award to all survivors of sexual assault (I May Destroy You is based on her own rape).
When Coel took the stage, she wasn’t just taking the stage as an Emmy winner, she was taking the stage as the first Black woman to ever win the award for writing in a limited series. It certainly marked a a wonderful moment for representation, but being that it’s 2021, it’s a bit disappointing that we’re still witnessing a first of this nature.
While some viewers rejoiced in Coel’s rightly deserved victory, others couldn’t help but be reminded that it was one of the few wins for people of color throughout the evening that largely awarded white writers and actors from the same set of shows. It was also frustrating to hear other speeches drag — looking at you Frank Scott — while Coel delivered eloquent and succinct remarks that only further proved why she deserved to win. At least she showed everyone else how it’s done.
If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, you can call the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 800-656-HOPE (4673) or visit online.rainn.org.