Michaela Coel Says She Was Sexually Assaulted & Was Still Pressured By Producers To Deliver Scripts On Time
Chewing Gum star Michaela Coel wants the film and television industry to do better when it comes to protecting young female writers. Coel revisited a time she met with friends for drinks one evening and the next day woke up in a production company’s office only to remember being sexually assaulted the night before and calling the producers, who urged her that she must still meet her deadline.
“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,” said Coel.
She then says the producers “teetering back and forth between the line of knowing what normal human empathy is and not knowing what empathy is at all”, saying that the staff warned her that her deadlines would not be pushed back and her scripts were still due. She said,
“I asked to push the deadline back and for the channel to be informed as to why. The deadline was pushed back, but the head of comedy never found out why.”
According to Sarah Ward of the Bectu union, this is totally unacceptable treatment. She said,
Unfortunately we’re still hearing of far too many experiences of sexual harassment across the industry. Our recent survey of Bectu members working in media and entertainment found that nearly two-thirds of women had experienced some form of sexual harassment, and this rose to 82% for those who are 30 and under.
Coel also spoke about a separate incident involving a TV producer in London. She had just won an award for her writing and met the producer for the first time at an after party.
“I said, ‘Oh yes, nice to meet you.’ ‘Do you know how much I want to f*ck you right now?’ was his immediate choice of response. I turned from him and went home so quickly I left my plus one. He called, upset. Someone called him a n*gger. It was the same man. Could my silence have encouraged this producer to push boundaries with women and black people further? This thought is uncomfortable, but I cannot block it out. I have to face it.”