Michaela Coel says turning down Netflix deal felt ’empowering’

Michaela Coel has said that turning down a deal with Netflix felt “empowering”.

The writer and actress said she was offered a lucrative one million dollar contract with Netflix to make her hit series I May Destroy You.

During an interview with the BBC’s Creative Diversity Xperience virtual event, she said she initially accepted the streaming giant’s offer.

National Prince’s Trust Awards 2020
National Prince’s Trust Awards 2020

“It was really easy to accept it because that’s the first thing I did,” she said.

“I said, ‘Oh my God, absolutely, one million dollars?'”

She said that something later made her “question the nature of the deal”.

“It wasn’t just a cheque, I needed to know what was behind it and how exactly things were operating,” Coel said.

“Daring to ask questions, that wasn’t easy but then the moment you begin to ask and you realise that the answers aren’t clear, for me then it was very easy [to say no] and I felt incredibly empowered to keep asking questions and watch people stutter.”

Royal Television Society Programme Awards 2019 – London
Royal Television Society Programme Awards 2019 – London

Coel said she began to “enjoy” watching people at Netflix fail to answer her questions before she eventually surprised them by turning the deal down.

I May Destroy You, which she created, co-directed and also stars in and is about the aftermath of sexual assault, eventually aired on the BBC.

Coel said that achieving success with the programme has felt “strange”.

“Something doesn’t quite feel entirely real about it,” she said.

“But it is only when I think I saw some of the reviews that my PR team sent me… it makes you realise how many people are watching the show.”