Report: Michaela Coel Declined Netflix Bid Over Copyright Issues

"I May Destroy You" has been one of the year's most critically acclaimed series

Michaela Coel
Michaela Coel in "I May Destroy You."

2020 has abounded with unexpected artistic triumphs, one of which has been Michaela Coel’s I May Destroy You. For viewers who’d seen her earlier series Chewing Gum, the new series offered confirmation of her talent as both a creator and star. For viewers unfamiliar with her previous work, I May Destroy You showcased a prodigiously talented artist at the top of their form. Writing at Rolling StoneMaria Fontoura wrote that “Coel is magnetic, and I May Destroy You doesn’t flinch from asking tough questions about consent, responsibility, and the twisted shape of love.”

I May Destroy You has been airing on HBO, but according to a new article at IndieWire, Coel’s show almost aired on a very different network. Zack Sharf at IndieWire reports that Coel turned down a bid from Netflix, which had aired Chewing Gum in the US. Why? Coel wanted to retain ownership of her work:

Coel, who wrote all 12 episodes of the series and co-directed nine, stars as a young writer struggling to come to terms and process a recent assault. Coel turned Netflix’s $1 million offer down because they wouldn’t allow her to retain any percentage of the copyright. The creator even ended her relationship with CAA after it “tried to push her to take the deal” with Netflix since CAA “would be making an undisclosed amount on the back end.”

Coel eventually pitched the project to the BBC, which offered her the creative control she wanted; HBO came on board after that as a co-producer. Coel revealed the information as part of a long feature at Vulture, which offers readers a sense of the personal and professional routes she took in getting I May Destroy You made. If you’re a longtime admirer of hers or a relative newcomer to her work, it offers an excellent overview of what she’s done and where she might be headed next.

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