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How Michaela Coel Turned the ‘Misfit’ Label Inside Out

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“Ex-boyfriends have accused me of giving these, universities have accused me of never attending them, but my relationship with this word has a rebirth,” Michaela Coel writes about the word “lecture” in Misfits: A Personal Manifesto, her first publication.

The book originated as the Edinburgh International Television Festival’s MacTaggart Lecture she gave in 2018. It’s a candid chronicle and a galvanizing cry, flanked by an introduction and epilogue.

Coel is the creator—actress, writer, director—of two series: Chewing Gum (2015-2017, in which the principal character is most keen to lose her virginity) and I May Destroy You (2020, in which the principal character reconstructs a night out during which her drink was spiked and she was sexually assaulted, struggling to piece herself together in the aftermath). The latter series is raw, confrontational, and funny in equal measure; it has garnered her BAFTAs and is currently nominated for nine Primetime Emmy Awards, while Time magazine designated the 33-year-old Coel one of the “100 Most Influential People” last year. Both series are based upon her own experiences.

She begins the MacTaggart Lecture with a John Keats poem, “Ode on Melancholy,” in which the English Romantic beseeches readers, “glut thy sorrow.” Coel abides by this dictum. “Like any other experience I’ve found traumatic, it’s been therapeutic to write about it, and actively twist a narrative of pain into one of hope, and even humor,” she says, capitalizing on what she describes as “my habit… to recount horror with a smile.” Ultimately, she says, “I think........

© The Daily Beast

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