Michaeala Coel Turned Down $1 Million Dollar Netflix Deal After Being Denied Her Copyright Request
British actress and creator Michaela Coel’s success in the U.S. can be credited to her HBO series “I May Destroy You.” The ground-breaking British comedy-drama series centers around her character Arabella, who must rebuild her life after her drink was spiked and she struggles to remember what happened to her, all while delving into the topics of sexual assault and consent.
The series is based on Michaela Coel’s personal experience of being sexually assaulted during the making of her comedy series “Chewing Gum,” for which she won a BAFTA for Best Female Performance in a Comedy Program.
In a recent interview, she revealed that Netflix made her an offer worth $1 million in the spring of 2017 for “I May Destroy You.” Michaela wrote all 12 episodes of the series and co-directed nine. In the series, she also stars as a young writer who struggles to come to terms with and process her recent assault.
Michaela Coel says she turned down Netflix’s offer because they wouldn’t allow her to retain any percentage of the copyrights. She even ended her relationship with the CAA saying that the agency,
“tried to push her to take the dealwith Netflix since CAA would be making an undisclosed amount on the back end.”
Michaela Cole tried negotiating with “a senior-level development executive at Netflix” to get at least 5 percent of the copyright. But she says,
“There was just silence on the phone. And she said, ‘It’s not how we do things here. Nobody does that, it’s not a big deal.’ I said, ‘If it’s not a big deal, then I’d really like to have 5 percent of my rights.’”
When Michaela Cole tried to retain 5% of her copyrights, an exec at Netflix told her that they would have to “run it up the chain.” The exec added,
“Michaela? I just want you to know I’m really proud of you. You’re doing the right thing.”
Michael says that those words let her know that she wasn’t crazy.
“I remember thinking, I’ve been going down rabbit holes in my head, like people thinking I’m paranoid, I’m acting sketchy, I’m killing off all my agents. And then she said those words to me, and I finally realized — I’m not crazy. This is crazy.”
Check out the trailer for the show below:
The British actress/writer recently spoke out against the media’s treatment toward blacks and women.
She recently sat down with British GQ to talk about how her HBO hit, in many ways, parallels her personal life. In August 2018, she shared that she was sexually assaulted by strangers and was still pressured to deliver the scripts for her television show, Chewing Gum, on time. She stated back then,
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,”
She added that the producers were,
“teetering back and forth between the line of knowing what normal human empathy is and not knowing what empathy is at all.”
She also opened up about her personal experiences with sexual assault, racism, and being a black woman portrayed on television and in media. Michaela Coel expressed,
Who would have known that we would be where we are right now politically, in terms of police brutality, racism, the coronavirus and the inherent sort of strange biases that this virus has? Although everything is heartbreaking, I feel quite grateful to be able to present a show to the world that humanizes us right now. I think that since the media has really even existed, it has dehumanized black people. In many ways, it’s dehumanized and disempowered women. To be within the media, to challenge that, and to present us as fluid, multi-dimensional human people, just like everybody else, feels like a really amazing privilege.
She explained how she processes racial events in the times of the #BlackLivesMatter movement.
I feel like there is something that feels like you’re hitting against a brick wall in terms of the government, the way the police system is run and the systematic racism that permeates through.
Michaela Coel does have hope, though. She mentioned,
I, for some reason, have this sense of hope. I feel very proud of the way we’re coming together, even if it’s just to stand there in solidarity.
What are your thoughts on Michaela Cole, turning down $1 million dollars from Netflix? Let us know in the comments!