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23 August 2018

Michaela Coel Reveals Sexual Assault and Calls for Industry Change in TV Festival Lecture

Writer and performer Michaela Coel has delivered an honest and wide-ranging MacTaggart Lecture to an audience of TV industry professionals at the Edinburgh TV Festival.

Coel, who is the 2016 New Talent Award winner at the WFTV Awards, is the youngest and first person of black or ethnic minority to deliver the prestigious lecture at the festival, and used the platform to call on the industry to embrace ‘misfits’.

She also revealed that she had been sexually assaulted whilst working overnight on an episode of her hit comedy show, Chewing Gum. After it happened, she was reticent to rock the boat by asking the production company for a writing extension, “I wasn’t sure how damaging it would be to the company, so couldn’t ask,” she said.

The extension was eventually granted, but only after Coel was told ‘They won’t offer you the break’, by an honest colleague, ‘That’s not the way it is. You have to take it.’”

Acknowledging the non-stop, stressful nature of working in TV, she advised audience members to “Make silence for yourself, for five minutes, to check if you’re okay, and interrogate your own morals and beliefs in relation to how you operate.”

And she closed with a challenge to producers: “I’m going to try to be my best. To be transparent, and to play whatever part I can, to help fix this house. What part will you play?”

Read more about the Lecture, and download a full transcript, via BECTU here.