Michaela Coel, the star of the hilarious British comedy Chewing Gum, revealed that she was sexually assaulted when writing the show, Deadline reports.
Coel opened up about the experience, which she called “life-changing” during a the MacTaggart lecture at the Edinburgh International Television Festival on Wednesday.
“I was working overnight in the company’s offices; I had an episode due at 7 a.m. I took a break and had a drink with a good friend who was nearby,” she said. “I emerged into consciousness typing season two, many hours later. I was lucky. 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.”
Coel did not name the person who assaulted her and said that she was not raped within the production company’s office.
“How do we operate in this family of television when there is in an emergency? Overnight, I saw them morph into an anxious team of employers and employees alike; teetering back and forth between the line of knowing what normal human empathy is and not knowing what empathy is at all. When there are police involved, and footage, of people carrying your sleeping writer into dangerous places, when cuts are found, when there’s blood…what is your job?
She added that the company paid for therapy services at a private clinic for her until production of the show was completed.
The news comes after BBC TWO unveiled Coel’s latest project Jan 22nd, which looks at sexual consent in today’s society.
The writer and actress also opened up about another time she was sexually harassed while working in the TV industry.
“I won an award, for writing. At the after-party, a London producer introduced himself to me. I said, ’oh yes, nice to meet you’. ‘Do you know how much I want to f**k you right now?’” she recalled he said.
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Teddy is a multimedia journalist who serves as the culture and political writer for EBONY. His work has appeared in NBC's Owned and Operated stations, as well as DNAInfo, which covered local neighborhood news in New York City. He received his Masters in Journalism from the Craig Newmark School of Journalism at CUNY in 2017.